Category Archives: Food

Runner Bean Falafels

After many years of trying, I managed to get a decent crop of dried runner beans / løpebønner* (Phaseolus coccineus). My own garden is a bit too cold due to the shady conditions on a rather windy spot. Last year I grew a selection of 15-20 early varieties sourced from the German gene bank IPK Gatersleben and commercial suppliers which I grew successfully in the sunnier community garden (Væres Venner).
They were made into delicious falafels,  accompanied by living room grown Kandahar cress (karse) and wild buckwheat / vill bokhvete and turned into gourmet food with a couple of dandelion flowers from the windowsill! 
*In Norwegian, these beans are known usually as blomsterbønner (flower beans) and most often used as an ornamental. I prefer to call them løpebønner to better reflect that these are much more than an ornamental!

Dandelion scape, bud and flower omelette

Sorry, but I ceremoniously sacrificed all the dandelion flowers, buds and scapes for a delicious omelette today…and what a wonderful view they had on their last day on earth!
Also in the dandeliomelette was chicory “Witloof” sprouts, an old Finnish shallot, garlic, thyme and the last of the wild buckwheat sprouts (løvetann, sikori,sjalott, hvitløk, timian og vill bokhvete)

Slow barlotto

Tonight’s dinner was slow (kortreist) barlotto (byggotto) with whole grain Norwegian organic barley with:
Mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum) “Ken Aslet” and “White”
Persian shallots (Allium stipitatum)
Wapato (Sagittaria latifolia)
Carrot / gulrot
Chicory / raddichio (2 varieties) (Cichorium intybus)
Swiss chard / mangold
Leek / purre
Bulb onion / kepaløk (2 varieties)
Tomatoes / tomat (a mix of the last of this year’s crop)
Madeira vine (Anredera cordifolia)
Bay leaf / laurbærblad
Apple / eple 
Dandelion / løvetann
Garlic / hvitløk
Celery / selleri (3 varieties)
Matriske / saffron milkcap (rehydrated)
Chili and a local blue cheese “Hitra Blå”
 

December omelette

Last night’s simple winter omelette with ingredients I had on hand:
Wapato tubers (Sagittaria latifolia)
Potato “Blue Congo”
Swiss chard (mangold)
Shallots “Finland” (an old Finnish / Norwegian variety of sjalott)
Barberry (vill berberis) fruits – see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=27761
Tomatoes / tomat (some of the last fruits)
Salt, pepper and chili



20 year anniversary extreme pizza!

Around 25 years ago I started reading scientific papers written by various ethnobotanists on the back of the discovery of the traditional Mediterranean diet – people in mountain villages had low levels of cardiovascular disease. The diet is characterised by eating a lot of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, seeds and fish and contains little fat from dairy products and red meat, but rather monounsaturated fat from olive oil and unsalted nuts. Even here in Norway, this is the diet recommended by experts, latest in an article this spring at NRK article  in which it’s also suggested that it can also contribute to preventing dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer. Nice to know as this is the diet I’ve followed for some 40 years, although using more dairy products than would have been used. 
Reading those articles, it struck me that one component was missing in recommendations and that is a large diversity of notably leafy green vegetables, something not possible for most people in Norway as, unless you are a forager, this isn’t available. In fact, for most people, vegetables seem to be interpreted as tomatoes, cucumbers and squash, all fruits. 
One of the first studies I read was Gathered wild food plants in the Upper Valley of the Serchio River (Garfagnana), Central Italy by Andrea Pieroni, published in the journal Economic Botany in 1999. In this study, 133 species 
belonging to 48 families were documented and over half were plants used for their leaves and shoots. I could also read in this paper about multispecies dishes for perhaps the first time. Notably, in this area a multispecies soup Minestrella with typically 40 different plants was made and a similar 50 species dish, pistic, traditionally made inland from Venice is also referred to (pistic is also referred to in Stephen Facciola’s Cornucopia II).
This inspired my own multispecies dishes and, a few days ago, 24th August 2023 was the 20th anniversary of my world record salad with 537 plants which lead to me being called Extreme Salad Man on a Norwegian gardening program Grønn Glede the year after! The importance of leafy perennial vegetables and food diversity, both cultivated and foraged also became the subject of my book Around the World in 80 plants.
My main multispecies dishes (with links) made over the years since can be found at the bottom of this post.
On 24th August we decided to mark the 20th anniversary of the world record salad by making a pizza with as many plants as possible, although it was a busy week otherwise so I only managed 229 this time, 225 of which were grown in one of my 3 gardens, the onion garden at the Ringve Botanical Garden, the Væres Venner community garden and my home garden, The Edible Garden. It was served to an unexpecting group of psychologists who had booked a garden tour that evening! They were on a Somatic Experiencing mentoring weekend in Malvik (Vennatjønna Levebruk) and they spend the first evening “grounding themselves” in my garden (this was the second visit)! The list of plants can be downloaded under the pictures below from that evening!

The record pizza ingredients:

Download (XLSX, 19KB)



Other notable extreme multispecies dishes –
SALADS: 19th August 2001 –  363 different plants (382 ingredients); see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=29492 
            24th August 2003 – 537 different plants (over 90% were perennials); see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=18997
PESTO: 6th June 2015 – 230 different Alliums (see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=1507); a few were biennial (Allium cepa)
FERMENT: 412 varieties (7th June 2015)  – a mix of perennials and annuals (see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=1544); probably over 80% were perennials!
SALAD FLOWERS: 115 different flowers on 7th July 2015; see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=1904  (again probably over 90% flowers of perennials)




Green pasta

This is what I had for dinner last night: a Mediterranean-diet style green (wholegrain spelt) pasta dish with wild fungi, annual greens, broad beans, weeds, golpar, chili and epazote (see more on the ingredients used under the picture!).

My daughter, Hazel, peeling away the inedible slime layer of slimy spike-cap (sleipsopp):

We used two mild tasting Russula species (kremler): Broad beans (bondebønner) and swiss chard (mangold) 
Shallots (Finnish heritage variety) which were harvested in September 2022 are still looking good: Sonchus oleraceus (common sow-thistle / haredylle), probably my most used veg at this time of year, even though most consider it a weed! WEEDS ARE TO FEED!


Epazote, wormseed / sitronmelde (Chenopodium ambrosioides), leaves from an 11-year old plant which is overwintered indoors in a cold room down to 3-4C:

Even the guest bed is in use for drying seed! Here is the 2023 crop of golpar (Heracleum spp.) seed :) :
Otherwise, we used courgette, nettle, chili and Hitra Blue organic cheese!

50 and 20 year celebrations

To celebrate our good friends’ Jurgen Wegter and Ingvild Haga’s 50th birthdays together with Meg’s 50-year anniversary of arriving in Europe for the first time (in Southampton near where I lived at the time) as well as my 50 year anniversary of leaving school and a memorable holiday with 20-30 school friends in Newton Ferrers in Devon, we made a special gourmet dinner of green mac-cheese. It had masses of veg mixed in – the year’s first broad beans and swiss chard, chicory, common sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus), Allium senescens leaves, shallots and garlic from last year, rehydrated winter chantarelles, golpar – ground seed of hogweed – Heracleum spp., together with ramsons salt, chili, sun dried tomatoes and mustard, all in a wholegrain spelt white sauce with wholegrain spelt pasta; it was  topped with alpine bistort bulbils). 
Not to be left out, the Extreme Salad Man contributed one of his Meditteranean diet inspired multispecies salads commemorating it is now almost 20 years since he put together a salad from home grown ingredients in Malvik comprising 537 ingredients. something the world hasn’t seen before or since (see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=18997). The record was set on 24th August 2003. This time there were a mere 106 ingredients….sad to see, but he must be losing it….
Thanks to Jurgen for the salad pictures:

The Extreme Salad Man photographs his latest creation

Hablitzia, Laportea and Nettle Gnocchi

What to do with the very last Sarpo Mira potatoes from the cellar? Last night’s dinner was Gnocchi made with Hablitzia leaf, Laportea canadensis (Canadian wood nettle tops) and stinging nettle tops. I must admit that our first attempt turned into a gnocchi soup, so we had a starter with exactly the same ingredients as the main course :) The second attempt was excellent though!

Hablitzia tamnoides leaves:

Canadian wood nettle (Laportea canadensis); the tops of the stems can also be used:
Making the gnocchi (potato used instead of grain for pasta):

Garden foraged perennial veggies: 28th June 2023

Tonight’s perennial vegetables from the garden, used in a stir-fry:
Top right and clockwise:
Sochan / Cherokee greens tops (Rudbeckia laciniata); Norsk: Kyss-meg-
over-gjerde (picture at the bottom)
Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) “Skomvær”; Norsk: engsyre (picture at the bottom)
Garlic shoots (Allium sativum) from a clump grown as a perennial; Norsk: hvitløk
Perennial chicory tops (Cichorium intybus)
Urtica platyphylla (a Japanese nettle species; later than Urtica dioica)
Cabbage thistle (Cirsium oleraceum); Norsk: kåltistel
From top and down
Sherpa onion (Allium wallichii); perfect time for harvesting; Norsk: Sherpaløk
Hogweed tops (Heracleum); Norsk: bjørnekjeks
Hosta fortunei var. albopicta f. aurea
Allium nutans; Norsk: Sibirsk nikkeløkSochan tops are excellent
A sorrel I collected at Skomvær, an island outermost in the Lofoten Islands; it is floriferous and has a compact growth form!



Turkish brockets

This week, the tastiest part of turkish rocket / russekål (Bunias orientalis), the broccolis (affectionately known as brockets here!), were ready to harvest! Although considered an unwanted invasive nowadays in Norway, my 30 year old plant has never produced a seed. However, the plant died (I thought) a couple of years ago only for a number of new plants to appear from the roots some distance away. I hadn’t realised it did this. I was also puzzled to read on the Norwegian invasive species database that it is biennial and spreads aggressively by seed (see https://artsdatabanken.no/Fab2018/N/602).
Anyway, it made a delicious lunch stir-fried with St. George’s mushroom (vårfagerhatt), some leftover cooked potatoes and mixed into scrambled egg with chili and garlic. Read more in my book Around the World in 80 plants.