The udo (Aralia cordata) shoots had begun to lift the forcing bucket, so time for the annual udo salad, a variant this year, East meets West salad…the udo paired with garden grown ramsons (ramsløk)! Delicious!
I’ve previously introduced the gourmet part of the dandelion, the dandichoke! I write in my book:
My favourite foraging author “(Samuel Thayer’s) favourite dandelion vegetable is what he calls dandelion crowns, as named originally by Euell Gibbons (1961). I prefer to call them dandichokes, as both these and artichoke hearts are located below the flowers. In the early spring, the very young flowers appear at the surface. The dandichoke is just the self-blanched crown between the top of the root, which is a bit below the surface, and the developing flowers. Although small and difficult to clean, they are very tasty”. See the picture below!
The same applies to another of the 80 in my book, Giant Bellflower (storklokke) which also has a delicious (sweet tasting) self-blanched stem between the root and the surface….bellfower-chokes or, even better in Norwegian, storklokkeskokker! I discovered this accidentally last year! I had earlier noted in my book the sweeter tasting spring shoots after blanching (covering to excude light).
More or less anything can be used in a pizza, but I wager these have never been used in the same pizza: Oplopanax horridum, Allium scorodoprasum, Crambe maritima (sea kale /strandkål), Ligularia fischeri and Reynoutria japonica (Japanese knotweed).
Yesterday was time for the annual karvekaalsuppe party in Malvik. The young spring shoots of caraway are ready for harvesting in early spring (April to early May). They have a mild parsley-like taste not at all like the seeds. They were traditionally used to make a soup (karvekaalsuppe). Karvekaal literally translates as caraway-cabbage or -greens. This soup is described in Norway’s first cookery book by Hanna Winsnes in 1845. She recommends that the karvekaal should be cooked to soup either with meat or fish stock. Jens Holmboe, in his wartime Norwegian book Free Food from Wild Plants (Gratis Mat av Ville Planter ,1941) wrote, ‘There are many homes around the country in which the serving of the year’s first fresh karvekaalsuppe brings on a real spring party atmosphere after the long hard winter’. I know exactly what he means.
This week’s veggie karvekaal soup was made from both leaves and roots, first fried in a little butter with onion, garlic, sweet marjoram, chili, salt and pepper with a little barley miso. Delicious!
When we had children, first Robin in 1983 followed by Hazel (1986), I had less time to forage for food and started moving some of my favourite wild edibles into my garden. One of the first was Carum carvi (caraway / karve). My foraging mentor, Jan Erik Kofoed, had taught me about using the spring greens and how not to confuse it with cow parsley (hundekjeks) and yarrow (ryllik) which it often grows together with here. Locally it grows on coastal rocks and meadows, further afield on farmland. However, I could never find enough. It grew well in the garden and I had it in the same spot for over 20 years, self-seeding and always there, giving the impression of being perennial.
Caraway was probably taken by the Vikings to Shetland, Iceland and Greenland, where it is still found. Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen describes having eaten karvekaalsuppe in 1888 at the beginning of the first crossing of Greenland where they pitched their tents on a grassy area: ‘…after a strenuous day, a fantastic warm karvekaalsuppe, which will be difficult to forget, was our reward for our efforts’.
In Norway, karve grows throughout the country, in the south even being found in the mountains and, in the north, to the Arctic Ocean north of 70°N. Its range otherwise is throughout northern Europe including the Baltic states, most of Central Europe and east into Central Asia, Mongolia, Kamchatka, northern China and spread in the Himalayas. It is also found in Iceland and Greenland and has naturalised in many parts of North America. Outside of Norway I’ve also found documentation of using the spring leaves in soup both in Estonia, Poland and Slovakia.
More on the multi-purpose plant caraway on my blog as a root vegetable, spice or edimental: http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?s=caraway
Lots of Hablitzia (stjernemelde), ground elder (skvallerkål), Svenskelauk (a form of Allium fistulosum), sweet cicely (spansk kjørvel), dandelion (løvetann), day lily shoots (daglilje), blanched horseradish shoots (pepperrot) and a variety of Allium victorialis (victory onion, seiersløk) which is the earliest form I grow along with one from the Kola peninsular in northern Russia; other varieties have hardly grown yet!
Onion bhajis are a popular and delicious starter in Indian restaurants and common veggie fast food in supermarkets in the UK. They are basically onions in a gram flour batter which are deep fried in oil. Gram flour is made from chick peas. If I could get it, I would prefer to use broad (fava) bean flour which could be grown here in Norway. I have a lot of (bulb) onions left in the cellar, so decided to make some bhajis…..and with my cellar full of sprouting dandelions I decided to mix some dandelions into the batter for a slightly more healthy meal :)
Great to be home again to nutritious vegetarian food! Presenting this week’s two dishes, each lasting two days: dried broad bean falafels (with golpar spice) and a mixed cellar veggie wholegrain sourdough pizza with masses of forced dandelions and perennial kale shoots!