As my fourth task of my environmental challenge I decided to take on foraging and to anyone who’s never given it a go, I’d highly recommend it.
We made elderflower cordial, nettle risotto and wild garlic pesto. I loved the process of foraging and the outcomes were tasty too.
The wild garlic pesto we made a few weeks ago as the leaves were bountiful back then. I picked it at Reddish Vale Country Park, gave it a good wash and whizzed up in a food processor with pine nuts, parmesan, oil and seasoning. It was by far better than any shop bought pesto I’ve every bought. Here’s the recipe if you’re interested.
On Thursday I headed back to Reddish in search of nettles and elderflower. It was a warm day and in my great wisdom I decided to go out in a dress that left my arms and legs bare. I’m not sure what I was thinking. I did however arm myself with rubber gloves though, so that was something. My friend and I had a lovely stroll around the park, hunting elderflower which was ALWAYS right next to a load of nettles. I got more stings pulling elderflower off trees than I did picking the nettles themselves.
The nettle risotto itself was pretty straight forward – it was a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe. It was lovely and flavourful and earthy but I suspect that had more to do with all the extra additions we made (mainly chill flakes and truffle oil), rather than the nettles themselves.
The elderflower cordial was more of a palava – we had to track down citric acid from the pharmacist to steep the elderflower in for 24 hours (along with sugar syrup and lemons). However we’ve just completed the cordial today by straining the syrup through a tea towel and a colander (more faff!), but the results are impressive, I’m sitting here right now sipping some cordial with sparkling water and it’s rather delicious. However we definitely don’t need three litres of the stuff, so we’ve palmed some off on our neighbours and some more we’ve made into ice cubes.
In honesty despite some of the hassle involved in all this foraging lark, I’ve totally loved it. It’s brought me closer to nature and to the food chain. And it’s wonderfully exciting and educational to go outdoors, pick your own food then work out how to cook it. And the smugness factor when you eat your own tasty foraged dinner is huge.
Next week’s environmental challenge was meant to be vegan week. But because I’ve got a busy week involving travel I’ve decided to have a ‘mainly vegan’ week. And we’re well and truly embracing veganism this afternoon as we’re off to Marple’s new Cambodian restaurant Angkor Soul which has a vegan only menu on sundays.
I’ll be back in a week to report back.