5@5 - Foraging for flavor
June 5th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

For Logan Cox, there is food all around you.

The executive chef of Ripple in Washington, DC, says take a look at the ground and most of it is available for your consumption - so don't be afraid to dig in.

"All of these items should be thoroughly washed in cold water two or three times before using. Avoid lawns or places that use chemicals," says Cox.

"The more brush, the better. If foraging in wild places, bring a book, guide, or a smart phone that has the Google Goggles App to confirm what you find. "

Five Lesser Known Edible Items To Find in Backyards or Nearby Wooded Areas: Logan Cox

1. Chickweed
"These can be found all across North America, including Alaska. They grow everywhere year round but are very prominent in late winter into spring. They are famous for taking over an entire lawn, much like mine. They sprout tiny white flowers with a yellow stamen.

The leaves are teardrop-shaped and the stems are tender and long, I've pulled up chickweed stems well over four feet long. More of a sprawling weed, it does not grow upwards. It's very mild in flavor, reminiscent of cucumber, with a mild acidic finish.

It's great for garnishing lighter fare and grilled or roasted fish. If you have a surplus, sauté chickweed with olive oil and use in place of watercress or mint."

2. Wood sorrel
"Easily one of my favorite foraged weeds due to its very bright, slightly sweet, and lemony flavor. It looks like three-leaf clovers but it grows in clusters, has small yellow flowers and is a bit smaller than clovers.

The leaves are heart-shaped. It is exceedingly delicious on raw fish, or anything that might need that bright and sweet lemony tang."

3. Dandelion
"Dandelion is the most prominent of the foraged greens, and these weeds are found worldwide. The flower is very familiar but few know that it is delicious. The leaves that accompany the flower are very spicy and bitter, similar to a watercress, arugula or nasturtium.

During the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt insinuated that so long as there were catfish in the rivers and dandelions in the fields, no American should go hungry.

I have eaten these cooked, in a salad, and used it as a garnish on charcuterie."

4. Purslane
"I know summer has arrived when I see purslane sprouting from the sidewalks. It has a slightly sour, salty taste and an aloe finish. It is a very tender and delicious weed that almost bursts when you bite into it. It's great by itself, with oysters or any shellfish, and tomato."

5. Greater Plantain
"This weed also grows in clusters similar to dandelion and sometimes are right next to them. The leaves are ribbed and almost tongue-shaped. They have a bitter flavor and can stand up to most red meats.

The younger leaves are not as strong and more tender than the adult leaves. The stems are used for tea and traditional medicinal purposes like tisane."

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Foraging • Local Food • Salad • Spring Vegetables • Summer Vegetables • Think


soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. JellyBean

    I found a dandelion moonshine recipe in my Grandmothers cook book. Score!

    June 7, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  2. xavi

    I like the idea of foraging for foods. But somehow I cannot get out of my mind the idea of some highway maintenance guy spraying roundup on all the weeds. I guess that it goes unsaid that you have to find a vacant lot where you know people haven't been spraying for weeds.

    June 6, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • MarkGlicker

      Very good point.

      June 8, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  3. TX4UREXKARLENE

    Heard that dandelion has more vitamins than broccoli :-)

    June 5, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
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