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I’ve gathered twenty-five recipes from people around the country who are using wild edible weeds in ways that will surprise and delight you. While I love eating wild foods by themselves, they are just as delicious when combined with cultivated ingredients. And cooking with wild foods is a great way to get creative and try something new.
As a forager, I’m always hunting for new edible weeds to use in cooking. A great way to help our environment is to learn how to use plants and invasive weeds that have been pestering our landscape and gardens and turn them into delicious food. The best part is that when invasive plants are involved, there’s no way to over-harvest. You can harvest to your heart’s content with no ethical considerations.
What are Invasive Edible Weeds?
Invasive species are plants that have been introduced to a new area, usually by humans, where they have thrived and multiplied. Garlic mustard and Japanese knotweed are two of the most widely known invasive species of edible weeds. Invasive plants are becoming increasingly problematic. These plants not only take over habitats but also make the habitats less diverse by eliminating native plant species.
An idea to control their spread is to use these plants for their edible properties. By doing so we can establish relationships with these plants in a mutually beneficial way. Invasive wild edible plants can be used as ingredients in salads, sandwiches, soups, stews, stir-fries, and more.
Once you start to look, you’ll see invasive wild edible weeds everywhere. They’re often hiding in plain sight.
25 Invasive Edible Weeds Recipes
Autumn olive berries are a magical fruit that can be found in the fall months. These berries have been used to make teas and jellies, but they also serve as an herb for maintaining overall health.
Learn more about how to identify, harvest, and enjoy the many benefits of Autumn Olive Berries. AUTUMN OLIVE BERRIES: AN AMAZING SUPERFOOD
1) Lemon and Autumn Olive Tart
Edible Wild Food shares an incredibly tasty and healthy lemon meringue-like pie. This is sure to become an autumn favorite.
2) Autumn Olive Tart
Northern Woodlands replaces raspberries with autumn olive in this tasty tart recipe.
3) Autumn Olive Ice Cream Pie
One Acre Farm suggests serving a dessert that combines layers of autumn olive sauce topped with hazelnut crust and mascarpone ice cream.
Burdock root can be used in Asian dishes such as stir fries, braises, and soups. It can also be peeled, sliced, and eaten raw on a salad. It tastes like a radish with an artichoke flavor when eaten raw.
4) Roasted Burdock Root
Colleen from Grow Forage Cook Ferment shows how easy it is to roast burdock root. With a couple of splashes of soy sauce and a sprinkle of sesame seeds, burdock’s nutty flavor is made even more yummy.
5) Seriously Asian: Kinpira Burdock Root Recipe
In Japanese cookery, burdock is a versatile vegetable that may be used in stews, stir-fries, and pickles. Serious Eats share a recipe for Kinpira (stir-fried burdock) which is a simple and homey dish, where the richness in the earthy root makes it a welcome complement. The only seasonings needed to enhance the naturally sweet and complex flavor are sake, soy sauce, and sugar.
The dandelion is one of the most common edible weeds that can also be eaten. The entire plant can be consumed in one way or another, aside from the stem, which contains a very bitter, milky substance. … Dandelion flowers are a tasty addition to pancakes or fritters. Click on one of the links below for more information on this amazing edible weed.
6) Pasta with Dandelion Greens, Garlic, and Pine Nuts
Fine Cooking offers a recipe that combines the flavors of sweet pine nuts, roasted garlic, and tart dandelion greens in a hearty pasta dish.
7) Wild Spring Green Pizza
The folks at The Perennial Plate know how to make a pizza! Their wild spring greens pizza with dandelion looks delicious.
8) Dandelion Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Use those greens as a basil substitute in this unique pesto twist from Kitchn. They use pumpkin seeds instead of pine nuts for their toastiness and really balance out the slight bite of the dandelions — as does the lemon juice and parmesan cheese. It’s a well-balanced pesto perfect for a simple pasta, sandwich spread, or veggie dip.
Lamb’s quarters is a leafy plant that grows in the U.S. It tastes similar to spinach and can be used as an ingredient in a quiche or other dishes.
9) Lamb’s Quarter & Wild Mushroom Quiche
Lamb’s quarters is a leafy plant that grows in the U.S. It tastes similar to spinach and can be used as an ingredient in a quiche or other dishes. Enjoy this recipe from the Outdoor Apothecary for Lamb’s Quarters & Wild Mushroom Quiche.
10) Roasted Lambs Quarters
Edible Wild Food offers a great recipe for roasted lambs quarters stems. The stems are every bit as good as the leaves and seeds. Roast them and enjoy these tasty treats!
An unassuming wild green with a delicious peppery flavor, garlic mustard weed is an excellent plant to start foraging. Wild garlic mustard grows abundantly across the country, is highly nutritious, and packs a rich, sharp flavor that is perfect in fresh salads or added to savory dishes. Foraging garlic mustard weed is easy, too, once you know what to look for in the plant. Learn more about how to find and harvest these incredibly invasive edible weeds. Foraging Garlic Mustard Weed: A Delicious Invasive
11) Foraged Garlic Mustard Pesto
Foraged garlic mustard pesto is easy to make, tasty (with a super-fresh garlic character), and inexpensive due to the fact you harvested the garlic mustard yourself. Plus it’s invasive, so you don’ need to worry about over-harvesting.
12) Garlic Mustard Shoots with Ramp Butter
The Forager Chef’s recipe for Simple blanched garlic mustard shoots served drizzled with melted ramp leaf butter is a delicious spring side dish.
Himalayan blackberries are hard to control, but their fruit is delicious and can be used in any recipe that calls for raspberries.
13) Blackberry & Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
Rosemary’s Blog shares a recipe she adapted a Rhubarb-Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake recipe from The Best Places Northwest Desserts Cookbook by Cynthia C. Nims. It was a recipe contributed by the Higgins Restaurant and Bar in Portland, Oregon. Here is my adaptation:
14) Small Batch Wild Blackberry Jam
Wild blackberry jam is an easy way to preserve this delicious summer fruit. This recipe for small-batch wild blackberry jam is my favorite because it only has three ingredients and requires no pectin. All you need are blackberries or raspberries, granulated white sugar, and lemon juice.
15) Himalayan Blackberry Sorbet with a Kiss of Coconut
This sorbet is inspired by Food 52’s Wild Blackberry Sorbet but uses coconut nectar and blackberry honey to make a low glycemic version.
Knotweed is tart, crunchy, and juicy; can be eaten raw or cooked; and can lean sweet or savory, depending on how it’s prepared. Knotweed is in many ways the perfect thing to forage: It tastes good, it’s easy to find, and—unlike many wild edible weeds—people can eat it without the threat of overharvesting.
16) Pickled Japanese Knotweed
The Spruce Eats shares an easy recipe for refrigerator pickles that doesn’t require a hot water bath.
17) Japanese Knotweed Hummus
Gardinista shares a delightful recipe using tender Japanese knotweed shoots. The Japanese knotweed adds the citric note usually provided by lemon juice.
Purslane is a lemony, crunchy, mild green. You can use it raw in salads, or cook it as a side dish.
18) Wild Purslane Salad With Olive Oil and Lemon Dressing
Food.com shares a marvelously refreshing salad with a unique taste.
19) Purslane, Cucumber & Tomato Salad with Mint
Purslane (a.k.a. portulaca) is a nutrient-packed green with a bright, lemony flavor and delicate crunch. Many gardeners in the U.S. consider it a weed, but EatingWell considers it to be a valuable salad ingredient and has developed a tasty recipe for this common garden weed.
20) Booshala (Spicy Yogurt And Herb Soup)
Hilda’s Kitchen shares a recipe for a traditional Assyrian soup known as Booshala that is made with yogurt and herbs such as Purslane.
Sorrel has a tart and citrusy taste, and is especially good with seafood. Note that sorrel sauce can be stored in the freezer and used in multiple dishes (such as fish or other recipes that call for it). Sorrel soup is a delicious dish, too.
21) Salmon in Sorrel Sauce
Food 52 shares a recipe for salmon with sorrel suace that can be executed from start to finish in under 30 minutes by even a relatively new cook. The result is an elegant, dish that can be pulled out for a dinner party, or just a weeknight when looking to make something a little special. A note: if you can’t find sorrel, you can substitute baby spinach.
22) Sorrel Soup, French Style
Hank Shaw from hunter-angler-gardener-cook shares a recipe for sorrel soup that is a tart, bright, smooth wake-up call from a long winter.
Nettles should be blanched to remove the sting, so any raw salads are out of the question. Instead, look to recipes that might include cooked spinach leaves—quiches, curries, soups, and fish pies. Use nettles as a substitute in any recipe that calls for spinach. Nettles have such big green flavors, they aren’t reliant on other ingredients.
23) Stinging Nettle Soup
AllRecipes shared this recipe for Stinging Nettle Soup. This is a dense, dark green soup that’s perfect when nettles are in season in the spring. Be careful to wear gloves when handling the stinging nettle plants or you’ll be left with stinging skin.
24) Stinging Nettle and Artichoke Dip
Whether you’re looking for a dip for your next party or to add some culinary flair to your next meal, this recipe for Stinging Nettle and Artichoke Dip from Meateater looks as delicious as it sounds. Starting with the basics of nettles, artichoke hearts, and spices, the author adds several kinds of cheese to make a truly amazing dip.
25) Lemon Stinging Nettle Cake
Want to eat healthy food and still have it taste good? Try this Stinging Nettle Cake! Boiling the nettles takes away their sting, so you can enjoy the green layer cake made by the folks at veggie desserts. Nobody will guess there are nettles in it.