Side Dishes

Side Dishes

Japanese Knotweed: A Healthy Edible Invasive

Japanese knotweed has a short 3-week growing season, but it can be frozen raw and used all year. If you like the taste of rhubarb, you'll enjoy knotweed. For more information about the best way to harvest knotweed, check out my e-book Joyful Foraging: Learn How to Feast on the Food Growing All Around You. Field garlic and garlic mustard, additional recipe ingredients, are also covered in this e-book.

One of the challenges of our virtual world, is that I never know who is really trying to find me. Before I launched, I was A huge shout out to Carly Leusner for crediting me for this knotweed recipe, even when I was in a state of metamorphosis.

Carly, if you're still around, Joe is a fellow member of the Connecticut Westchester Mycological Association. I'm reintroducing the chicken mushroom ingredient, which was part of Joe's original recipe:


4 Cups Cleaned/peeled Japanese knotweed
2 TBS Honey or agave
3 TBS Tamari or soy sauce
6-12 Field garlic leaves and bulbs (pull up a large clump)
1/2 tsp Grated fresh ginger
1 Carrot, shredded
6-8 Garlic mustard flower clusters for garnish

1. Japanese knotweed
2. Chicken of the woods mushroom
3. Field garlic
4. Garlic mustard top leaves and flower
5. Violet flowers

1. Garlic
2. Ginger
3. Carrot
4. Sesame oil

1. Honey
2. Tamari or soy sauce

Choose knotweed stalks that are flexible, no thicker than young asparagus stalks.
Trim leaves from stalks and gather enough to fill a paper grocery bag
That should yield about 4 cups

If you are lucky enough to find fresh chicken mushroom, and/or field garlic harvest them both.
Keep an eye out for garlic mustard leaves and flowers and for violet flowers - both for plating and garnish

1. Rinse knotweed and peel the thin outer layer
2. Slice knotweed crosswise or at an angle into bite-size pieces
3. Grate ginger
4. Shred or grate raw carrot
5. Clean chicken mushroom with a damp cloth or paper towel
6. Cut mushroom into bite-size pieces
7. Chop field garlic (or onion) and sauté until golden
8. Add chicken mushrooms, cooking until they release, then reabsorb moisture
9. Whisk oil, honey, tamari and ginger until blended
10. Add knotweed and carrot and mix again
11. Add cooked ingredients and blend until everything is coated

Line serving dish with garlic mustard leaves
Use a slotted spoon to cover with knotweed mustard salad
Garnish with violet flowers and garlic mustard flowers

Serve warm or chilled

When I took this photo, I had hit the forager's lottery also finding wild ramp leaves. I made rice and served this as a main dish, instead of a side dish. Knotweed can be savory or sweet, as in this recipe for knotweed compote.

Side Dishes

Garlic Mustard: An Early Spring Arrival

My mentor, Gary Lincoff, professional botanist and author of the Audubon Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, cautioned his students not to be a ”plant snob.”

Garlic mustard is invasive, choking out native plants. But it is edible.

I will never get tired of saying that what I like best about foraging is that so many edible plants grow in abundance without any help from me.

I grew up on a farm. Planting, weeding, watering and harvesting are hard work. Foraging is fun.

Garlic mustard is one of the ten featured plants in my e-book, Joyful Foraging: Learn How to Feast on the Food Growing All Around You. Take a close look at the heart shaped leaves with scalloped edges and deep veins.

These are tastiest before the weather warms up. Once the white flowers appear, the leaves become bitter
While you're in the field, look for field garlic pictured on the right, also featured in my e-book.

Meanwhile enjoy this recipe for garlic mustard with sesame oil:


Foraged items:
1. Garlic mustard greens
2. Field garlic, if you find it

Purchased items:
1. Sesame oil
2. Onion - if you don't find field garlic

Gather enough greens to fill a paper lunch bag
If you find field garlic, gather it to use instead of an onion

1. Rinse greens to remove any dirt and blot dry
2. Coarsely chop leaves
3. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add chopped greens
4. Boil for 10 minutes or until the water is bright green
5. Remove from heat, drain leaves and discard water
6. Chop field garlic or onion
7. Sauté until golden
8. Stir in cooked garlic mustard greens

Remove from heat, plate and serve

garlic mustard sesame oil 003.JPG

Side Dishes

Dandelion Croquettes: A Hot and Crispy Side Dish

 Dandelion Croquettes are a crispy substitute to starchy side dishes

 Dandelion Croquettes are a crispy substitute to starchy side dishes

When I was growing up, the sight of sunny yellow dandelion blossoms decorating a lawn or pasture was a sure sign that winter and mud season were over. Spring, with all its promise of longer, warmer days and new growth, had officially arrived. Dandelion blossoms, when separated from the milky stems, can be enjoyed fresh, sprinkled over a green salad. Blossoms can be also be added to a number of recipes. I like to sprinkle petals in pancake batter. If you are skilled at making tempura, dip entire blossom in tempura batter. Here's my recipe for dandelion croquettes:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

1 cup dandelion flowers - pinch the flower at the bottom, roll it & shake off the petals
1/2 cup flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
pinch fresh ground pepper
1 oz milk
oil for pan frying
Mix all ingredients
Add enough milk to make a stiff batter
Heat coconut oil or olive oil in a cast iron pan
Spoon golf-ball size amount of batter into the oil
Press into a flat shape for more even cooking                                                                                    Let  croquettes cook 3 or 4 minutes until golden brown
Flip croquettes and brown on the other side                                                                                                Remove from pan and drain
Serve on a bed of ramp leaves or other greens.                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                   Shopping List:
Foraged items

1 cup dandelion blossoms separated from stem
12-15 ramp leaves
Pantry Items:
1/2 cup flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
pinch fresh ground pepper
1 oz milk
large lettuce leaves if you don't have access to ramps

1-2 Hours Before:
Gather dandelion blossoms
Only gather ramp leaves in season
30 Minutes Before:
Remove petals and separate dandelion petals
Mix ingredients to form batter
10 Minutes Before:
Heat cooking oil
Spoon batter into oil and press to flatten
Turn and cook the other side
Drain on paper towel
Arrange on bed of greens