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.
Learn more about how to identify, harvest, and enjoy the many benefits of Autumn Olive Berries. AUTUMN OLIVE BERRIES: AN AMAZING SUPERFOOD
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.
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.
Fine Cooking offers a recipe that combines the flavors of sweet pine nuts, roasted garlic, and tart dandelion greens in a hearty pasta dish.
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.
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
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.
Himalayan blackberries are hard to control, but their fruit is delicious and can be used in any recipe that calls for raspberries.
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:
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.
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.
Purslane is a lemony, crunchy, mild green. You can use it raw in salads, or cook it as a side dish.
Food.com shares a marvelously refreshing salad with a unique taste.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.