I was collecting quinces and checking to see if the oranges and grapefruits were ripe at our new house. While I was there I picked some of the flat leaf parsley that is growing wild and some more spinach. Himself asked me why I wasn't also picking the wild lettuce. Now I know my lettuces and there was no "wild" lettuce in sight. He pointed to a heap of "weeds" that were growing under one of the trees and tried to tell me that it was wild rocket (you may know it as arugula). Mmmm - no it was not rocket, but he is a stubborn man so to prove a point he started eating it, commenting that it was bitter so it must be rocket. I had visions of once again visiting the Emergency department (another story - those in the know call him "Bottletop man") but he didn't start foaming at the mouth or convulsing so all was good. I came back home and using my superior computer skills, (another joke as I am technologically backwards - it is a surprise to many that I can get this blog thing happening!) I discovered that there are many "weeds" that are in actual fact edible and quite nutritious, however most are quite bitter so you need to try to use young leaves and make them palatable. It is also advisable to only pick them from areas where you are certain they haven't been sprayed with chemicals. We are still not sure what the weed in question actually was - it most closely resembled a dandelion but there are a couple of other broadleaf weeds that it could have been. Anyway as I am a big chicken, to be doubly sure I did a search for weeds poisonous to humans. No pictures of anything resembling our weed so we decided to give it a go in the kitchen.
We had some friends coming to dinner in an hours time so I thought that they could be my "weed" guinea pigs. I had some ready made gnocchi in the pantry so we knocked up a quick pasta sauce using what we had available as an entree:
Thoroughly wash your weeds to make sure you remove all traces of dirt and bugs. Chop them into small strips and plunge into boiling salted water for about 3 minutes. Drain and set aside. Fry 1 chopped onion in butter and then zest of 1 lemon (we have a Meyer lemon tree which is a really sweet lemon) add the wilted weeds and cook a little longer. Add some white wine and cream, salt and pepper (I used my recently purchased truffle salt). Bring some more salted water to the boil and cook the gnocchi - when it floats to the surface it is done. Add the gnocchi to the sauce and place in serving bowls. Top each bowl with some chopped roasted walnuts and parmesan cheese (I used truffle infused parmesan). It was delicious and nobody had to go and have their stomach pumped so it was a successful experiment!