Foraging

There really is something immensely satisfying about foraging, finding your own wild food and what better way to eat organic seasonal food than to get it from where it grows naturally.

Growing up in Norfolk, I was always picking plums to eat on my way home from school and in the Summer holidays, blackberries to take home for my mum to make in to a crumble, and fresh peas from the farmers field (that technically might class as stealing rather than foraging, probably best not to do that) to snack on straight from the pod.

Another favourite past time was going strawberry picking, granted it’s not really foraging as you had to pay per punnet but you’d always manage to eat about as many as you picked along the way and then even after my mum had made jam, we still ate strawberries for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next few days.

Living in London, it’s still amazing what you can find. Parks, wooded areas and riverside walkways are all great for foraging.

I went out to my local park this week with the dogs and stumbled across a patch of fresh mint, I picked a few sprigs and used them in a pea & mint soup, a zesty summer garden veg pasta dish and fennel, broad bean, courgette & mint risotto.

35403064_1817876584916953_6810172665060392960_n

35330735_1817876571583621_4202736197623087104_n

Tips for foraging

  • Always try a little of your find first, just to make sure it agrees with you.
  • Only pick what you need, wild food is a source of food for wild life, birds and insects, you don’t want them going hungry.
  • Keep in mind that dogs do pee up against trees and bushes, pick from up high and always wash your finds thoroughly.
  • Be careful with mushrooms, a lot of the edible ones look almost identical to the poisonous ones.
  • Take a guide book to help you identify what you’re collecting.

Fennel, Broad Bean, Courgette & Mint Risotto

35539421_1823590921012186_7201551697347346432_n

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 fennel bulb, sliced

1/4 cup of broad beans (fresh or frozen, for fresh, immerse in boiling water for 3 minutes, remove and run under cold water to cool before shelling)

1/2 a courgette, diced

1 onion, chopped

250g of arborio rice

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1/2 a cup of white wine

1 tsp of vegetable bouillon

800ml of water

1 sprig of mint, chopped (alternatively 1 tsp of dried mint)

1 tsp of dried thyme

Salt

Pepper

2 tbsps of vegan butter

2 tbsps of vegan parmesan, grated

Method

Boil water and pour in to a jug, mix in the bouillon to make a stock.

In one pan melt 1 tbsp of butter

Add the onion and garlic and saute for around 5 minutes until the onion starts to soften.

Add the rice and wine, stir and cook for two minutes until the wine is almost evaporated.

Pour around 100ml of the stock in to the pan, stir in and wait until the liquid soaks in to the rice and reduces down.

Repeat this process 100ml at a time until all the stock is used up and the rice is the correct, slightly al dente consistency. 

In the mean time, in another pan, melt 1 tbsp of butter, add the fennel and saute until the fennel starts to turn golden.

Add the broad beans, courgette, mint and thyme, saute for a further 5 minutes.

35819476_1823591011012177_1944110023047118848_n

Stir the fennel, broadbeans and courgette mix in to the rice adding salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in the parmesan.

Serve with a little drizzle of olive oil.

35671804_1823590597678885_6423842727607140352_n

Zesty Summer Garden Veg Farfalle

35240522_1817827841588494_937638137205620736_n

Serves 2

Ingredients

150g of farfalle pasta bows

1 courgette, sliced in to discs

1/4 cup of garden peas (freshly shelled or frozen)

1/4 cup of broad beans (fresh or frozen, for fresh, immerse in boiling water for 3 minutes, remove and run under cold water to cool before shelling)

1 clove of garlic, chopped

2 tbsps of vegan butter

Leaves from 1 sprig of mint, chopped (alternatively, 1 tsp of dried mint)

1/2 a lemon, sliced

1 tbsp of vegan parmesan

1/4 cup of daily free milk alternative (I used oat)

Salt

Pepper

Method

Put the farfalle in a pan of boiling water, add a little salt and boil for around 15 minutes until al dente.

In the mean time.

Grill courgette discs for around 5 minutes until they start to char.

In another pan, melt the butter, fry the garlic in the butter for a minute or two.

Add the milk, peas, broad beans, mint and salt and pepper to taste.

Turn heat down and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the courgette, lemon and parmesan.

Remove pasta from heat, drain and mix with the veg.

Serve with a little more parmesan to garnish

Pea & Mint Soup

I went foraging in one of my local parks this week for fresh mint and I had a bag of fresh peas in the fridge so thought I’d make a nice light pea & mint soup which can be served either hot or chilled.

35461966_1817876614916950_3553535436812976128_n

Serves 2

Ingredients

Leaves from 2 sprigs of mint, chopped (alternatively 1tsp of dried mint)

2 cups of shelled peas (you could use frozen)

1 onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, chopped

Water

1 tsp of vegetable bouillon

Salt

Pepper

35266128_1817875718250373_1031076112802775040_n

Method

Cook the onion and garlic in a pan in a little water for around 5 minutes until they start to cook.

Add the peas.

Pour water in to the pan until it just covers the contents.

Add the bouillon, mint and salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to the boil and then turn down heat and simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool before blending.

Serve hot or chilled

img_2618