Wonderful World of Weeds

(Sorry, the temptation to alliterate was irresistible. Clearly, I did not resist.)

In early October, I and a friend joined a mixed bunch of folks on an Edible Weeds Walk at Coburg Lake, hosted by the lovely Doris Pozzi.

Doris demonstrates dandelions(*) wild lettuce.
  * I am bad: I was taking photos and not listening, and have now been corrected.  Thanks, Doris!  

The day of the Weed Walk started off deliciously sunny, so I set off from home without any wet weather gear. The height of hubris and foolishness when undertaking outdoors activities, especially in Melbourne. It rained. Thankfully, it didn’t rain much, and other folks had huge umbrellas under which we less-prepared folks could sheepishly huddle.  But enough of the weather – it deterred none of us!  The walk was a wonderful way to spend 2 hours, despite the weather.

Aside from the excellent knowledge Doris imparted, and the joy and amusement of her interaction with her partner, Steve, what I loved most about the Weed Walk was how it changes the concept of going for a walk in the park, or a stroll along your street, or just that short hop from tram stop to home. Suddenly, everywhere is a grocery store, and everything is a potential meal.  I wish I’d been on this walk before our bike tour; I may have had the courage to supplement our diet with fresh greens (which it desperately needed in many places.)

I am a confident plant identifier (though I do rather identify plants much the same way I identify birds: amateurishly, but enthusiastically.  I wonder if plant anoraks would also consider me a dude?)

Another joy of the walk was learning the names of some common flowers I see about the place. I’d categorised them as “daisy” but actually, they’re something else.  And I was a little bit re-inspired to take photographs, but my photo-mojo has not properly returned yet.

Cape Weed: not edible; despite me initially mishearing its name as Cake Weed and thinking, “Awesome! Cake in a weed!” I blame the bike tour for me thinking and saying “awesome” more than is seemly for an almost mid-30s professional person.

Chickweed: edible.  The photo that made me like taking photos again. But I haven’t held onto that feeling.

I gathered a bag full of garlic weed (also known as onion weed or three cornered leek), which is now no longer in evidence.  It comes out in early Spring (of which Melbourne has been having rather a lot of, despite it now being late Spring in calendar terms).

Tangentially: Melbourne has been really struggling with this whole Spring thing.  I don’t think she knows how to do it right.  Hint, Melbourne, you get progressively warmer. You do not yo-yo between >25+ days and <15 days. Especially when those <15 days coincide with days starting with an “S”. Just sayin’.

And I went home and cooked up a pasta dish with onion weed pesto.

Garlic Weed, Onion Weed, Three-cornered Leek: Edible.

Here is my not really a recipe:

What you need:-

  • Bunch of garlic weed, roughly chopped (you could substitute with a couple of cloves of garlic or a leek)
  • Parmesan, about half a cup
  • Lemon juice and zest of one lemon
  • Olive oil, quarter of a cup
  • Pasta of your choice (I like penne, but almost anything would work)
  • Cannellini beans, about half a cup (already prepared: either tinned or rehydrated and cooked)
  • Ground pepper

What to do:

  • Whizz garlic weed, parmesan, lemon zest and juice and olive oil in a blender or similar.  I tend to add in as little oil as I can help, adding more if needed. Taste and adjust if needed: if too sour, add more parmesan. Don’t worry too much about how strong and garlicky it currently tastes.
  • Cook pasta to al dente and drain.
  • On medium heat, saute the whisked ingredients for a few minutes, add cannellini beans and then add the pasta.
  • Add some ground pepper. Lots, if you’re me.
  • Serve and enjoy!

It is not an attractive dish, but it was delicious!

I am still putting the knowledge learned to good culinary use by supplementing our salads and stir-fries with miscellaneous weedy greens (violet leaves, dandelion leaves, nasturtiums) and have made grand plans with the friend who accompanied me on the walk for a weed feast, featuring mallow soup, dandelion tempura and nasturtium san choi bao. That hasn’t eventuated yet, but it will.

Thank you, Doris. I had a wonderful day!

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6 Comments

  1. It’s a shame that not all tasty things are pretty things, but your pasta dish sounds lip-smacking good. I like the idea of a Weed Walk so you are sure only to pick edible weeds for culinary adventures. And I do hope you get your photo mojo back — I love your flower photography.

    Reply

    1. Yes, I am contemplating a daily challenge to see if I can reinvigorate my photo taking! Partially, it is because I do not love the current camera (not the G11 which has some problems and needs repairing).

      The weed walk helped me feel more confident!

      Reply

  2. What a fabulous idea. I think your pasta dish looks delicious, and it’s reminding me that lunch time is still at LEAST 45 minutes away… so stomach, you’ll just have to wait it out.

    Reply

  3. That’s a very good eco-way of doing things! My weeds just get thrown in my green bin. I should be checking some out for eadiblity!

    Reply

    1. And also, as soon as you want to eat weeds, they cease to grow so well. Proven fact. (the violets growing through cracks in our pavement no longer look so prolific now I eye them off as salad.)

      Reply

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