So . . . what do all of these dishes have in common?
- crab apple blossom drops with Meyer lemon sour mix
- warmed olives with fava beans and rosemary
- nasturtium pesto
- watercress, nasturtium, and miners’ lettuce salad with pine nuts and fresh flowers
- and braised dandelion and nettle with wild mushrooms
Yep – they are all made from ingredients foraged from the Bay Area! We cheated a bit, I’ll admit, buying a few things that couldn’t be conceivably foraged, and allowing for a few other foods that could have been foraged with a lot of difficulty – i.e. pine nuts and wild mushrooms. We also admitted the fava beans that conveniently came in our most recent Eatwell Farm box.
Another admission: I’m more likely to be found “foraging” for my house keys than clipping nasturtium leaves from the backyard. But oh, what abundance awaits those who go looking through local fields and paths (and even farmers markets) for edibles.
Now, please don’t go stealing the first tomatoes from someone’s community garden plot, and don’t go eating every wild plant you can get your fingers on! Foraging should be about about finding the fascinating and nourishing foods that surround us, overlooked, every day, but it’s important to use careful judgment, both about what to eat and what to pick. Don’t eat anything you can’t positively identify (as edible!), and always leave some behind for other people, for the birds, and to allow the plant to continue thriving.
We assembled all of the dishes for a small dinner party that some friends held, and the cocktail and the nasturtium pesto were the biggest hits. I can already see a completely foraged dinner party in our future!
Crab Apple Blossom Drops
- 7 oz vodka
- 1 cup crab apple blossoms (reserve enough flowers to garnish each drink)
- Rind of 1 Meyer lemon (in wide strips, pith removed)
- 3 oz lemon juice
- 3 oz simple syrup
- 3 oz triple sec
- Sugar (for rims)
Place the vodka in a glass jar and add the lemon zest and flowers. Gently bruise the flowers in the vodka, cover, and allow to infuse overnight. The next day pour through a fine strainer or cheesecloth to remove flowers and lemon rind.
To assemble the drinks, coat the rim of each glass with lemon juice and dip in granulated sugar. Place infused vodka, triple sec, simple syrup and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Adjust flavors if you like, adding more simple syrup, lemon juice or vodka as your tastes dictate. Strain drink into glasses and garnish each with an edible flower. Makes six small cocktails, or twice as many shots.
- 1 lb nasturtium leaves (or use half nasturtium leaves and half Italian parsley leaves)
- 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth, adding a little more olive oil if necessary. You could use a mortar and pestle, but with the nasturtium leaves, the pesto tastes better very smooth, so be prepared to grind for quite a while! Adjust seasoning to taste and use as you would traditional basil pesto.