Onion weed I use to curse as a gardener – then I discovered I could eat it and I have changed my attitude. I now think of recipes that I can use when I weed this invasive plant. All of the plant can be eaten. The flowers – a pretty white with a green line – are similar to the spring bulb snowdrops.
|The onion weed flower – you can eat it|
It does escape into the cultivated garden and it can easily be pulled like a spring onion in this situation. But its favourite habitat is under trees and you will need a spade to harvest them there.
|Lili the cat is not at all interested in the onion weed around her|
You will need to hose or soak the onions in water to get rid of all the excess soil, and there is usually a thick and slightly slimy skin over the older bulbets, but these come away quite easily to reveal something similar to spring onions.
|Onion weed harvested and ready to used like spring onions|
In summer the tops die down but underneath the bulbs, usually the size of marbles, can be dug up and pickled like cocktail onions or sauted whole. Like onions they have a papery tough first skin but if soaked in water this can easily be removed. I haven’t pickled them yet but perhaps I will give it try later in the year.
How I use onion weed in a foragers salad….
|Left over Cabbage & Lentils with my Foragers Salad using Wild Onion Weed|
When I am working in the garden I keep aside any tasty thinnings and edible weeds to be used for a lunch salad. Yesterday I had collected a wild parsnip, horseradish root, miners lettuce, rocket, Southland pea and broad bean shoots.
I reheated the lentils, bacon and cabbage leftovers and put it on toast. I then added the collected greens and grated parsnip (yes fresh parsnip is quite delicious grated raw). I had some leftover whipped cream in the fridge so I added the finely grated peeled horseradish root, half a dozen pickled nasturium seeds (you can use capers instead), chopped chervil, a squeeze of lime juice and seasoned with salt. This made a wonderful peppery-cream dressing. On top I added chopped previously collected and prepared wild onion, with the flowers of the wild onion, broad bean and the “purrrple” Southland salad pea. I drizzled this with some hemp oil – but a good olive oil or my favourite avocado and lime oil would be just as delicious. It looked and tasted a treat – fresh and nourishing.
|Edible flowers decorative and tasty – broadbean, Southland salad pea and wild onion flowers|
I am introducing you to my wild weed and flower salads. I love to create these to add colour, texture and a nourishing freshness to the standard lettuce salad. This may be intimidating for some of you at first. I suggest you slowly add these vitamin and mineral packed gems into your family’s diet as it takes time to introduce people to something different.
I have been adding flowers and herbs into salads since the 1980’s, and have gained confidence in what looks and tastes good. I remember back then our friend Ian said, “I didn’t think I would be eating a flower arrangement for dinner!”. I think he thought I was a little loopy putting viola and borage blooms and calendula petals into a salad but now it’s common that restaurants add edible flowers and herbs.
I intend over time to introduce you to many more herbs, wild plants and other edible parts of vegetables not usually used, e.g. broad bean green shoots and flowers. I hope you try the humble onion weed – leaves, bulbets and flowers.