Wild Greens ~ Dynamic Duo

Have you ever had a culinary experience that is so memorable that it opens up a new ‘vista’ of ideas?
I’ve been into “wild foraging” for almost 20 years. I’ve enjoyed many years of trudging through meadows, forests and hillsides with a worn guide-book in hand and bags dangling from my shoulder with  promises of yummy meals to come! And yummy meals, they have been! More to come on this topic! To check out my post about what is growing in  my yard at home, click here.
In July 2014, in Toronto, as an organizing committee member of the annual International Herb Association (info here) conference, I had an extraordinary opportunity.
The short story?
We wanted to create an evening to remember, showcasing wild foods from the area, with the help of  5 * chefs at the Eaton Chelsea Toronto.
(http://www.chelsea.eatonhotels.com)
I gathered some recipe ideas together **, and met with Executive sous Chef Gaurav Kapoor (GK) to plan our feast!
I can’t begin to tell you about our 7 hour meeting. Initially I am certain, GK must have thought that I was truly certifiable. “You want me to create an entire meal from WEEDS?”, he asked with a look of panic.
Of course, I smiled, sweetly, and told him that we could do this. I know I sounded very sure of myself.. and at the time, I needed to be, as ONE of us needed to believe it was possible!
As an herbalist who has made countless meals for 4-8 people, incorporating wild food, I have some experience. But…. We were talking about the creation of a 3-4 course sit-down dinner for 80+ people!
The audience? Herbalists and plant people from all over North America! Eventually, as ideas flew around the table,
a plan began to fall into place.

Image

Gaurav Kapoor aka GK ~ Exec sous Chef Eaton Chelsea, Toronto

The biggest issue? With such large quantities of wild greens needed, where would we ever find all of this “freshly picked” food at the exact moment it was needed?
To the rescue, local wild edibles expert,
Karen Stephenson!  Karen, already booked to present a talk about wild edibles, kindly agreed to work with us to pick bags and bags of assorted fresh greens, to be available just before our conference. 

Wild Greens

Karen, who conducts wild edible walks locally, spent hours making it possible! Her website is filled with great pics and helpful wild edibles information. Access it here.

My dear friend Amy Taylor and I worked on fine-tuning it all and created a plan with Chef GK to bring it all together. I will eventually share the entire meal with you but wanted to start out with my own personal favourite dishes. On the menu, that evening, we were treated to this:

WILD GREENS DUO
Don’t
let all the ingredients fool you. These are easy recipes. I hope that you are inspired to try them. Please let me know if you do!!

 Wild Greens Phyllo Purses
100 ml Olive oil 
300 grams butter 
15 grams garlic, minced
1 Onion, Spanish, chopped (about 100 grams)
100 grams Spinach fresh, chopped (about 100 grams)
400 grams wild greens *
250 ml chicken stock 
sea salt + pepper to taste
50 ml cream (35%)
150 grams Chèvre (goat) cheese
1 package of Phyllo pastry
* greens –> Plantain, Violet leaves, Wild grape leaves, Goosefoot, Amaranth, Goldenrod Garlic Mustard, Chickweed …
(there are many more choices. What’s in your area?)
 
METHOD:
Wash all greens  and rough chop all big leaves
Sauté chopped garlic in olive oil and butter , and add onions 
Sauté till onions are translucent 
Add all the greens and cook for about 10 minutes  
Add stock (preferably chicken, but otherwise vegetable )
Simmer for about 30- 40 minutes
Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Add a dash of cream for richness 
Take phyllo sheets and brush them with melted butter.
Put one more sheet on top and continue the process till three sheets are stacked.
Cut the phyllo sheets in required size^ 
Place ½  teaspoon of goat cheese in the centre plus
1  tablespoon of the greens mixture atop the goat cheese.
Bring all four corners of the sheet together and press them just about an inch below the top. (see pic below)
Butter or spray pan with olive oil.
Bake at 300 degrees F. for 8 minutes.
Serve Hot. Makes 18-20 servings! Freezes well.
If making this recipe and know that you will freeze a portion of it. Tip: for the ones to be frozen, squeeze a little extra moisture out of the greens before adding to the goat cheese.
^Note make 6 rectangles per sheet for size in the picture
Image 3
 
Wild Greens Soup

Olive oil  20 ml
Garlic, minced – 10 grams
White onion sliced – 50 gr
Chicken stock – 2 litres
Spinach – 100 gr
Wild greens* – 200 gr
Potato- 100 gm(peeled and diced)
Butter – 120 gr
Cream – 120 ml
Sea Salt – to taste
Thyme –  fresh – 2 sprigs
Black pepper -fresh ground – to taste
* greens –> Plantain, Violet leaves, Wild grape leaves, Goosefoot, Amaranth, Garlic Mustard, Chickweed

METHOD:

Saute garlic in oil and half the butter
Add sliced onions to it. Sauté till onions are translucent .
Add chicken stock , diced potatoes, thyme and seasoning
Boil it for around 15 minutes and then add wild greens in to it .
Simmer until greens are soft and potato is cooked .
Add spinach and buzz them all together with a hand-held blender
Once it is boiled add chilled butter and cream .
Stir it until butter is emulsified .
Strain through a fine sieve and serve hot.

WildGreensDuoVertical This Wild Greens Duo ~ elegant and an ‘out of the park’ starter for our ‘Go Wild’ with Beverley Gray dinner at the IHA’s annual conference!

**ideas for the dinner came from long-time foraging friends Leda Meredith, Melana Hiatt, local Toronto vegetarian chef Nettie Cronish and IHA’s beloveds Pat Crocker and Susan Belsinger.   

Please share the IDEA of wild greens with YOUR friends. We can ALL benefit from a little more WILD in our lives!  Green blessings to all.. 

 

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