Cooking with Wild Greens

Spring is the best time to enjoy the free greens available in our Incredible Edible gardens, as fresh new growth is always the best to eat, and there is plenty of it at both gardens right now! Take advantage of wild garlic, winter purslane/claytonia, Good King Henry, caucasian vining spinach, bladder campion, sorrel, hogweed, oxeye daisy leaves, nettles and more – it’s all available for you to pick your own. Greens like these can be used in place of spinach in all sorts of dishes, and used alone or as a mix.

Mixed wild greens and kale ready for cooking!

It’s important to remember that different leaves will require different cooking times, for example kale or nettles need a good few minutes to soften, while thin leaves like wild garlic and sorrel need only the lightest wilting. Take this into account when cooking, and if using a mix, add tougher leaves first and more delicate ones right at the end of cooking.

Here are two recipes ideal for using a variety of our wild or cultivated leafy greens, including all those mentioned above, chard, spinach and kale:

Spaghetti with Greens and Anchovies (for two)

Put 150g spaghetti on to boil.

In another saucepan, melt a knob of butter, add a small tin of anchovies in oil (use the oil too if you wish), and cook over a low heat until the anchovies melt into a paste. Add a pinch of chilli flakes or cayenne and 1-2 cloves chopped garlic (unless you’re cooking with wild garlic!).

Finely chop 200g leafy greens. When the spaghetti is nearly done, add your greens to the anchovy butter and wilt to your satisfaction. (Alternatively, wilt your greens separately, squeeze the water out, chop finely and then stir into the anchovy butter.) Season to taste.

Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the water. Toss the spaghetti in with the buttery greens and add 40g freshly grated parmesan. Add a dash of the cooking water to loosen as required.


Mushroom and Wild Greens Risotto (for two)

In a small pan, bring a pint (half a litre) of good chicken or veg stock to the boil.

In another pan, heat a knob of butter or some olive oil and add a chopped onion. Cook five minutes until beginning to soften, then add 140g risotto rice and cook 1-2 minutes or until there is a white spot in the middle of each grain. Add 125ml white wine, stir, and simmer until evaporated/absorbed. Add a good pinch of thyme. Add the stock to the rice, half a cup at a time, stirring often and allowing it to absorb before adding more. Keep adding until it is all absorbed and the rice is cooked (around 15 minutes).

Meanwhile, in another pan, cook 100-150g sliced mushrooms in butter or oil until soft. Add 1-2 cloves chopped garlic (unless you’re using wild garlic) and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add 200g leafy greens and cook until soft. Season lightly.

Stir the mushrooms and greens into the cooked rice and add 30g freshly grated parmesan. Check seasoning and serve, with additional parmesan if desired.

Wild Garlic