Going out into the countryside and keeping your eyes open is particularly rewarding in spring. Amazing what is sprouting and starting to grow! As well as the first delicate flowers you can already find fresh herbs and use these to make delicious things to eat: wild garlic pesto, for example, tasty herb butter or dandelion honey. TATONKA shows you here how easy it is.
Before you go off to the meadow with your herb basket to pick the delicate spring herbs, you should learn more about them: Perhaps you can look at a book of herbs with your parents or friends. Here you will find all the local herbs that are harmless for us and that you can use for cooking and here too, you will learn how to use them. Collect only those herbs that you can identify absolutely correctly and avoid plants that grow along the sides of roads, on private land, next to the local dog-walking paths and on farmland. On the way home you should not carry your freshly picked herbs in a plastic bag but place them freely in a basket that you have lined with a few sheets of kitchen roll. Unfortunately, your harvest starts to wilt very quickly so it is best to use them the same day if possible.
Colorful wild herbs with a fine taste
Already some distance away you will see the sunshine yellow of the dandelion amongst the green of the meadow. Its fresh young leaves taste especially good in salads, provided that they are gathered before they blossom, when they become bitter. Soak the leaves for a short time in salt water, then rinse thoroughly and carefully shake dry. Chop a clove of garlic and mix with three tablespoons of oil, a little sugar and a tablespoon of lemon juice and pour this over your salad. Finely chopped parsley and chives make this a simple but really tasty salad. Hard-boiled eggs and a slice of bread and butter are all you need to enjoy.
Especially delicious is also dandelion honey that can be made from the plentiful flowering heads. This is not a “real” honey but is made from sugar syrup. Your parents should help you with this recipe because they will help you with cooking on the stove. For dandelion honey you need 200 grams dandelion blossoms without stems, half a liter of water, a kilogram sugar and a spoonful of lemon juice. The ingredients are all boiled up together until there is a thick, golden yellow juice that you can then fill into jars.
The stems of the dandelion should not be used under any circumstances as their milky white juices can cause stomach ache or diarrhea.
Daisies: not only making daisy chains or crowns – you can also sprinkle the petals over a salad. The buds and the only just opened blossoms are really enjoyable; but do not use too many of these, they are only intended to give your salad that special something.
A very special delicatessen is the wild garlic that can be found in moist and shady places in the forest. Please be careful: the leaves of wild garlic look like those of lily-of-the-valley and are poisonous. If you rub the leaf of the wild garlic plant between your fingers, then it smells like garlic. Chop this finely and you can add this herb to fresh cream cheese, salads or soups for a special flavor – it is particularly delicious as a pesto to add special flavor to your pasta dishes, with potatoes or with barbeque meals.
For a delicious wild garlic pesto you need 200 grams of wild garlic leaves, 150 grams of kernels (pine nuts, sunflower seed or similar), half a liter of rape oil or sunflower oil, 100 grams of mature hard cheese such as Pecorino or Parmesan, finely grated, three cloves of garlic, pepper and salt. The ingredients are pureed with a mixer and then passed through a fine sieve to a fine pesto cream. If the wild garlic is too “hot”, you can add a little oil to the pesto.
Other wild herbs that you can gather whilst out walking and use in your home kitchen include
- Sorrel (adds a fresh “kick” to salads; its plant juice also provides quick relief for insect stings)
- Watercress (as a salad or finely chopped on bread and butter)
- Nettle (careful! The nettle has a sting! The fresh leaves and shoots, however, can be blanched like spinach to make a tasty salad)
- Yarrow (the young leaves of this herbal plant can be used for herb butter, salads, vegetable stews, with bread and butter or in soups).
And now the special TATONKA tip for your outdoor snack – herb butter:
Take half a packet of butter and leave it at room temperature for a few hours until soft. Use a fork and whip the butter. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice, a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper and mix. You then add your own variety of chopped herbs e.g. parsley, chives, and yarrow to the butter. A little finely crushed garlic adds a tasty extra to your home-made herb butter. This butter is especially good when spread on wholemeal bread or on baked potatoes.