Garden Foraging

In early spring, it can be difficult to find much to eat in the garden. However, often plants have more edible parts than we realize. Some plants, like kale, collards, bok choy, turnips, and Brussels sprouts are biennials, meaning they don’t produce flowers and seeds until their second year of life. This can be advantageous for the gardener who leaves these plants in the garden to overwinter, as they will be rewarded with new leaves in the spring, accompanied by tender flower stalks with a fresh, sweet flavor.

A simple dish can be made with an assortment of leaves and flower stalks from these plants, which when harvested early in the season, will remain tasty. However, with time and increasing temperatures, leaves will turn more bitter and flower stalks may get tougher.

Fresh, tender leaves and flower stalks can be steamed and prepared in any way you like. For an Asian influence, the addition of toasted sesame oil with some salt and garlic makes a simple, tasty side dish. Below, I also added some frozen vegetable dumplings. Store-bought, yes, but still yummy!

It’s amazing how limited our diets can be, given the wide variety of edible plants and plant parts. For instance, even the leaves of Brussels sprouts are edible and like a more tender version of collards. Who knew?

Kale leaves and flowering stalks, Brussels Sprout flowering stalks
Chopped and placed in steamer basket
Toasted sesame oil greens, served with vegetable dumplings

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