Dinner Discussion: Spring Foraged Dinner and Pickled Knotweed
I’ve been meaning to share about a magical evening that I had a couple of weeks ago, and am just now getting around to it. I was invited to a Dinner Discussion hosted by Leif Hedendal and attended by people far more fabulous than I. Leif travels the country, putting together extremely fresh and foraged ingredients — The New York Times featured his work today, incidentally. I greatly enjoyed the evening’s conversations about art, music, community gardens and apple trees, and the highlight was the menu.
David Craft is a star forager here in Boston, and he had spent that morning picking greens and weeds at The Arnold Arboretum in my very neighborhood. Supplemented by locally-baked bread, and stewed beans, here is what we ate:
Cold salad containing: chickweed, violet greens and flowers, redbud flowers, linden leaves, lamb’s quarters, garlic mustard weed.
Warm salad containing: milkweed, pokeweed, and stinging nettles.
Japanese knotweed pickles
The real revelation for me was the knotweed. That persistent, aggravating weed that makes its way under the fence from my neighbor’s yard now has a useful purpose — PICKLES!! Eureka!
David has been kind enough to share the recipe from his book, which is definitely worth picking up.
Japanese Knotweed Hot Pickles
1 part vinegar
1 part water
Bring this to a boil and add some sliced garlic, pickling spices and salt. I like whole black peppercorns and red pepper flakes.
Add enough tender knotweed (first couple weeks of growth, whole stalk, after that, just the top section that easily breaks off) so that it is just covered. Remove from the flame. It does not need to cook at all, just being plunged in the boiling water vinegar solution is fine.
Put into sterilized mason jars. Ready for consumption as soon as they cool off! Great in salads.
This is, of course, a pretty basic recipe, so feel free to experiment with your wild edibles!