A Foraged Autumn Feast
Hunting around the edges of the garden, pulling handfuls of Chickweed, Cat’s Ear, and Plantain and Amaranth leaves out of the dark autumn soil. Excitement in the air, as we talk about the flavours and nutritional and medicinal benefits of each plant.
Foraging places us in a lineage that goes back to the dawn of humanity. Every time we step out the back door we have an opportunity to find our place in the great web of life – growing, eating, sending nutrients up and down the food chain.
Taking this bounty into the kitchen, we transform it into a nourishing meal to share. Full of luscious, rich flavours, from the deep earthiness of Plaintain to the vibrant sparkle of Chickweed, and the salty bite of Warrigal Greens with the smell of ocean spray still fresh on their leaves.
Make this recipe your own. Transform it with the ingredients you have at hand. The beauty of foraging is that we find different plants flourishing every time. Find the flavours that work for you. Experiment, mix things up with different sauces and greens, both wild and cultivated. Have fun, and enjoy nature’s bounty.
- Rice – 2 cups
- Pumpkin – 4 cups, in large chunks
- Spices for pumpkin – Sumac, cumin, rosemary etc – choose your favourite blend
- Almonds – 1/2 cup
- Olive oil – 1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp
- Tamari – 1 tbsp
- Black Cumin Seeds – 1 tbsp
- Sesame Seeds – 1 tbsp
- Leek – 1 medium/large, sliced into 5mm rounds
- Garlic – 4 cloves, finely chopped
- Dehydrated Mushrooms – Oyster or Shitake
- White wine vinegar – 2 tbsp
- Optional – Pumpkin or other squash flowers
- Optional – Marigolds or other fresh edible flowers
- Mixed wild greens and garden herbs – About 2 cups, but it’s really up to you. We used Plaintain, Cat’s Ear, Gotu Kola, and Nasturtium.
Wild Green Sauce
- Warrigal Greens – 2-3 cups
- Chickweed – 1 cup
- Amaranth Leaves – 1 cup
- Cashews 1/2 cup
- Olive oil – 1/3 cup
- Garlic – 2 cloves
- Salt – to taste
Cook 2 cups of brown rice. If using a rice cooker, leave on ‘warm’ setting.
Coat pumpkin chunks in olive oil and your favourite spices, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in an oven at 200 degrees for 45-60 minutes, until soft and starting to brown.
Rehydrate the mushrooms in small bowl of water until soft, about 10 minutes.
In a large fry pan or wok, cook garlic and leek in a few Tbsps of olive oil, on low, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add black cumin and sesame seeds, a splash of tamari, stir and leave for another minute or two until fragrant. Add mushrooms and fry for a minute. Pour in two tablespoons of white wine vinegar to deglaze the pan, then add your greens and sauté until wilted. Give it a final check for flavour and adjust by adding tamari, vinegar, or salt. Mix into the warm rice.
While the garlic and leek are cooking, pour 1/3 cup of oil into a small pan and fry the almonds until deeply browned all the way through. Be careful not to let them burn – it’s worth checking by removing one and cutting it open when you think they’re getting close. If you’re using squash flowers, first remove the almonds and set aside, then gently fry the flowers in this toasty almond infused oil until they soften, then pour almonds, flowers, and the hot oil over the rice mix.
If you prefer a lighter meal, hold back some of the oil. Sprinkle extra black cumin and sesame seeds over the top for garnish.
If using fresh edible flowers such as marigolds, pull the petals out and throw them over the top of the rice mix.
To make the wild green sauce, first blanch the Warrigal greens in boiling water for 60 seconds, then remove into a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking and maintain that bright green colour.
In a small food processor or blender, whiz up the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and all the greens, until it’s smooth with a lovely vibrant green colour. Then add in the cashews and salt to taste, whizzing again until the sauce reaches your desired consistency – velvety smooth, super chunky, or anywhere in between. Adjust for taste and pour into a serving bowl.
The Warrigal greens have a salty, savoury flavour and amaranth leaves give everything an earthy note, while the chickweed has a fresh, light, bright green flavour. Feel free to substitute any greens you like, just aim for a balance of different flavours.
This meal is lovely when all those delicious flavours come together, so it’s best served in bowls with pumpkin on top of the rice mix, and the luscious green sauce drizzled over everything.
This meal is full of rich, complex flavours, and will change depending on the seasons and when certain greens are available. It is a lovely expression of the seasons, and gives you a chance to reflect on what’s happening in the world outside the kitchen window. If you have the opportunity, please take time to relish collecting your own greens. These are the gifts of nature, and bringing them into your kitchen is a chance to live in alignment with the wild world around you. As their flavours are variable depending on type, age, and season, please trust your intuition with seasoning, adding or changing to give the meal what it needs. Bitter greens will benefit greatly from extra salt, and earthy greens might need more vinegar or lemon juice to spring to life. Use your palette, experiment, and enjoy these delicious plants, and the lessons they have to teach us.
If you tried this recipe, we would absolutely love to hear about it in the comments below!