Our backyards can offer an abundance of wild edible plants that are just waiting to be picked up and turned into a tasty treat! Canada has more than 350 different species of wild edibles, so it won’t be difficult to find a plant that suits your palate. However, when looking for wild plants to bring into the kitchen, follow this rule of thumb: never pick or eat anything if you are not 100% sure what it is. Here are a few recipes that you can follow using plants that you can find in your backyard!
Baked dandelion leaves are easy to make and are a great healthy and tasty snack. All you will need are some fresh dandelion leaves (washed and dried), olive oil and any spices of your choice. Place the leaves in a bowl and mix them up with a bit of oil and any spices that you would like to add. Preheat your oven to 400 ̊F and place some parchment paper on a baking sheet. Lay out the leaves individually on the sheet and bake for 5 to 10 minutes. This delicious snack can be enjoyed hot or cold, and will make you rethink buying potato chips!
Another great way to enjoy dandelions is to make Dandelion Tempura! Check out how here:
Stinging Nettle Hummus
Stinging Nettle Hummus is a healthy dip that is easy to make and will have your family coming back for seconds. You will need 1 can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed), 4 cups of fresh stinging nettle tops and leaves, the juice of 2 large lemons, ¼ cup of tahini, 2 tbsp of olive oil, ½ tsp of ground cumin and salt and garlic powder to taste. First, place the nettles in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain it and set it aside. Combine the lemon juice and tahini into a food processor and blend for 1 minute. Then scrape the sides of the processor bowl and blend again for 30 seconds. Add the oil and spices, blend for 30 seconds, scrape the sides and blend for another 30 seconds. Add half of the chickpeas to the processor, blend for 1 minute, scrape the bowl and add the remaining chickpeas and blend until thick and smooth. Finally add in the stinging nettle and blend for 20 seconds. You can enjoy the Stinging Nettle Hummus with your favourite chips or vegetables.
Saskatoon Grilled Cheese
Saskatoon berries make a delicious hiking treat and an even yummier pie! Saskatoon Grilled Cheese is another way to use these sweet berries for an enjoyable lunchtime meal. You will need 1/2 cup of fresh Saskatoon Berries, 1 tsp of honey or syrup, 2 slices of bread, your choice of cheese, and butter or margarine. In a large bowl, mash the saskatoons with a fork, add the honey or syrup, mix to combine. Add some butter or margarine to a pan and bring to medium heat. Place a piece of bread on the pan, add the cheese and the saskatoon mixture and place the second piece of bread on top to make the sandwich. Cook until the bread is golden brown and the cheese starts to melt, then flip to the other side. Remove from the pan and serve warm!
Wild edible plants can add extra nutrition to the diet and are very fun to find and cook. If you are interested in finding more recipes that feature edible plants, EALT has a comprehensive recipe book featuring plants native to the Edmonton region. It is available for purchase here and it features an assortment of main dishes, appetizers, deserts and jellies!
Note: Always ensure you have permission to harvest plants for consumption, or grow them yourself. Collecting plants on Edmonton Parkland is not permitted.