Thanks to Alan Bergo (@foragerchef) for reminding me to try sochan tops. This is Rudbeckia laciniata (cut-leafed coneflower) which in the double form is one of the most popular garden ornamentals here in Norway over the last 100 years and a plant that has been commercialised as a farm vegetable over recent years in Korea. I’d previously only eaten the spring shoots, but I was equally impressed by the tops which I used simply cooked with onion, garlic and yellow zucchini from the garden, various fungi picked in the woods (saffron milkcap/matriske; hedgehog fungus / piggsopp and chantarelles / kantarell) and scrambled with eggs with a little chilim added (a classic way for preparing wild edibles in the Mediterranean countries. See the pictures below. See other posts on this great vegetable which was introduced to me in one of Samuel Thayer’s books: Appalachian Greens Cherokee Pizza
One of my favourite perennial onions are persian shallots, Allium stipitatum and I’ve blogged about them several times in the past: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?s=persian+shallot This is one of the earliest onions to appear in the spring and they flower and die down in the course of June. July is the best time to harvest the bulbs (I’ve often harvested them too late when they¨¨’ve already started sprouting in autumn). I harvested one plant this week and the bulbs were in perfect condition. I was once again struck by the yield (although it is probably two years since I harvested this plant). I replanted 3 of the largest bulbs. I usually dry the bulbs as they do in Iran, but this time I ate some fresh. They are surprisingly mild tasting and I used them fried in an omelette. Below the pictures is a Norwegian article on the persian shallot which I wrote in 2021.
Please download this Norwegian article on persian shallots:
Somebody asked me a few days ago if one could eat Angelica gigas (Korean Angelica) as you can Angelica archangelica (see my book Around the World in 80 plants for more about that). In my book, I do mention gigas as one of several other Angelica species used in other parts of the world, but until yesterday I hadn’t eaten it myself, partly as I¨’ve never had many plants and the flowering is wonderful!!
On the Korean wiki page, it simply states that “dangwi / dangquai’s petioles and tender stems are eaten raw or seasoned with herbs”. The root is also used medicinally along with Angelica acutiloba and Angelica sinensis. You can find various instructional videos and recipes on Korean pages by searching For example, the spring leaves and petioles are boiled and served with onions, garlic, sesame oil and sesame seeds. As my plants were close to flowering (they darken quickly to deep red at this stage), I decided to go for using the flower stems in salad:I first took one of the thicker flower stems… ….and sliced off a bit at the base for a taste! I was taken aback by how sweet it was (flower stems of Angelica archangelica were in the past considered to be candy by Norwegians). This reminded me of other plants that have surprisingly sweet flower stems: Scorzonera hispanica (scorzonera / scorsonnerot) and Arctium (burdock / borre). I assume that as plants like these approach flowering they produce less insect repellent chemicals and transfer their energy to producing flowers and seeds. For the salad, I peeled off the outer layer as it is fibrous and sliced it into the salad. Young seed pods of sea kale / strandkål were also available as were Scorzonera flower stems and buds.
As with most Apiaceae, Angelica gigas is very popular with the pollinators, so this one definitely fits into the Edi-ento-mental category (delicious, ornamental and popular with the pollinators – what more could you wish of a plant!). Unfortunately, like Angelica archangelica this species dies after flowering.
Earlier this week with little time to make dinner this was the unlikely result: St. George’s, ramsons and red-leaved dandelion leftover pasta with Hosta icicles in Japanese dip. Earlier in the day I had noticed a patch of St George’s Mushroom / vårfagerhatt (Calocybe gambosa) in the same spot it had turned up for the first time 3 years ago (see St. George’s Mushroom). They were then stir-fried with ramsons (ramsløk) and red-leaved dandelion (Taraxacum rubifolium) and some left-over wholewheat spelt pasta and were served with fried egg on home made garlic toast with a few prawns and some blanched Hosta “Big Daddy” shoots (Hosta icicles) as a side salad with an olive oil /soy sauce dip and the last bottle of St. Peter’s organic pale ale. LIFE IS GOOD!
No, I’m not vegan and have never been, I’ve been lactovegetarian with the occasional wild fish over 40 years. We always have some Norwegian dried cod (baccalao) at the ready in our cool larder. The usual way to make the dish baccalao here is to hydrate the fish for a couple of days and then layer potatoes, bulb onions, fish, tomatoes, garlic with olive oil, pepper and chili in large saucepan. I’ve always added seasonal greens too and often use green onions of various types instead of bulb onion. Last night, we used the last of the potatoes from the cellar and as there weren’t many also used root chicory (di Sancino: an edible rooted variety that produces well here) and the last yacon roots, all still in perfect condition kept in the cellar in dryish leaves all winter! We also used a good bunch of nettles, tops of giant bellflower (Campanula latifolia) and sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata) tops including the flowers. For the onions, sand leek (Allium scorodoprasum) and victory onion (Allium victorialis) were in perfect condition (beginning to flower). The verdict on our first bitter baccalao? Delicious, but probably not for everyone!
The best of spring in one sitting. In celebration of the country Norway, we yesterday (17th May) harvested a small selection of the best blanched perennial vegetables (apart from the ostrich fern which had to be harvested or it would have been too late). This included three udo species (Aralia cordata, Aralia californica and Aralia racemosa), sea kale (Crambe maritima), Hosta “Big Daddy” together with delicious sweet blanched ramsons (Allium ursinum) . They were all eaten raw (apart from the fern which was steamed for 10 minutes) with a Japanese dipping sauce – olive oil (should have been sesame), tamari (soy sauce) and roasted sesame seeds. These accompanied an onion soup prepared with half of the leaves from one plant of Wietses Onion, a vigorous hybrid of Allium pskemense and Allium fistulosum! It doesn’t get much better than this! More information with the pictures:
The best of vegetables ready to harvest this week: blanched sea kale (Crambe maritima), blanched lovage (Levisticum officinale) and nettles (Urtica dioica)! Delicious.
IT’S DANDINOODLE TIME HERE IN MALVIK: one of the year’s many highlights!
This is by far my earliest dandelion to come into growth in March. It was sent to me as seed from the Alps in Switzerland, following a talk I gave there and was supposed to be similar to the moss-leaved dandelion but the leaves weren’t similar at all. These are from one plant! I’m trying to fine out which species it is…
3. Allium paradoxum var paradoxum isn’t a plant you’ll want in your garden as this form has bulbils which can spread invasively. I was sent this 20 years ago from a garden in Sweden as Allium triquetrum but it wasn’t that one. I never considered either of these invasive Alliums as hardy enough to be a problem here and this one has slowly colonised the space around my oldest Hablitzia tamnoides. With warmer winters I have started more aggressive harvesting of this one.I now harvest both the young leaves, the tops, in particular the bulbils to keep it under control. They are delicious both raw in mixed salads and cooked.
Many thanks to all who sent birthday wishes as I transitioned to become a bonafide pensioner
As usual, my celebration dinner was a green macaroni cheese (https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?s=macaroni), this year an Around the World in 80 Mac-Cheese with 80 different perennial greens harvested from the garden, some for the first time!