Grilled Summer Vegetables with Wood Sorrel Butter

July 4th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Serves 4

A colorful combination of summer’s wild and cultivated ingredients, this recipe combines the smokiness of grilled vegetables with the lemony tang of wood sorrel (Oxalis).

I use a stovetop cast iron grill for these veggies, but if you’ve already got the outdoor grill fired up by all means use it. For outdoor grilling, skewer the vegetables before cooking.

Ingredients

4 cups chopped summer vegetables, 1-inch chunks (summer squashes and eggplant are especially good)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup wood sorrel leaves
¼ cup butter (vegan option: use additional olive oil instead)
Salt to taste

Directions

Heat the grill over medium high heat. Toss the vegetables with the oil. Arrange the vegetables on the grill so that they are not touching (leave a little space between pieces if doing skewers). Grill for 5 minutes. Turn over and grill for another 3-5 minutes until vegetables are tender.
While the veggies are grilling, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the wood sorrel and stir until the leaves are just wilted. Remove from heat.
Put the grilled vegetables on a serving plate. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Spoon the sorrel in melted butter over the vegetables. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Iced Spicebush Tea

July 4th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 1 quart

Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) leaves don’t dry well, so we only get to enjoy this delicately flavored iced tea during the growing season.

Ingredients

6-7 fresh spicebush (Lindera benzoin) leaves
1 quart boiling water
Honey to taste

Directions

Lightly crush the leaves and place them in a heat-proof jar or container. Pour the boiling water over the spicebush leaves. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes.
Strain out the leaves. While the tea is still slightly warm, add honey to taste and stir until it is dissolved.
Refrigerate until completely chilled, about 1 hour.

Spicy Gumbo with Purslane Bishop’s Elder & Sassafras Leaf

July 4th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Makes 4 servings

Wild puslane (Portulaca oleracea) takes the place here of the okra used in traditional gumbo recipes. It has similar thickening properties, but adds a flavor all its own. Closely related to celery, bishop’s elder (Aegopodium podograria) replaces that vegetables here. The filé powder stirred into traditional gumbos is made from dried powdered sassafras (Sassafras albidum) leaves – a tree native to our region’s forests (and parks)!

Ingredients

¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
¼ cup bishop’s elder stems and leaves, chopped
1-3 fresh or dried hot chilé peppers
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups chopped purslane leaves and stems
2 links andouille, chorizo, or other smoked sausage cut into ½-inch chunks
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoons filé powder
Salt to taste
(Plus cooked rice to serve the gumbo over)

Directions

In a Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the roux is a rich brown color. Remove from the heat and let cool for 1 minute.
Add the onion, bell pepper, bishop’s elder and hot peppers. Return to the heat. Whisk in the stock. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, whisking constantly.
Reduce the heat to a medium. Add the purslane, sausage and garlic. Simmer until the sausage is cooked and the vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes.
Turn off the heat. Stir in the filé powder and salt to taste. Serve over cooked rice.

Vegan Variation: leave out the sausage, add 1 cup cooked beans, substitute 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo for the hot chilé peppers.

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