Foraging in Cheshire - Chickweed

PUBLISHED: 00:00 26 December 2016

Chickweed  Top Spring

Chickweed Top Spring

not Archant

Foraging is fun even in the depths of winter, writes Cheshire Life's new wild food columnist, James Wood from Bollington

Chickweed - close up on row of  hairsChickweed - close up on row of hairs

Through the cold winter months it’s almost implausible to think there could be anything worth foraging around you, but if you peer past the snow there’s a bounty of edible greens to be found.

The warm salad we’re about to create will help to detoxify our bodies after the large Christmas dinners, whilst feeding our natural craving for wholesome food during cold spells.

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Hot Chickweed SaladHot Chickweed Salad

Habitat

You’re just as likely to find this growing in the Woods of the Wizard at Over Alderley as you are in the cracked pavements of Chester.

Physical Characteristics

Chickweed is a low growing annual, 0.1m tall. Its stalks tangle around one another forming a matt of foliage at the edges of walls, hedges and trees.

The oval leaves are from 4-20mm in length, pointed and grow on opposite sides of the stem. A distinguishing feature of Chickweed is a single line of hairs that runs up the stem.

The small white flower, 5-8mm in diameter, forms 5 petals that are divided to actually look like 10 petals.

Hot Chickweed Salad

What you’ll need (to serve 2):

- 1 large sweet potato, roughly chopped

- 1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped

- 3 small fresh beetroots, quartered

- 2 cloves of garlic, skin removed

- Two handfuls chickweed, washed

- A handful of nettle tops or spinach

- 2tbsp dandelion flower syrup or honey

- 4tbsp apple cider vinegar

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180C. Place an oven proof dish in the oven with a splash of sunflower oil to heat.

2. When your oil is hot add the sweet potato, onion, beetroots and garlic. Place back in the oven for 45 minutes.

3. After 45 minutes remove your veg from the oven and leave them to rest.

4. Whilst it’s resting heat a little oil in a non-stick pan and in this wilt down the nettle tops for about 2 minutes.

5. Once softened add the dandelion flower syrup and vinegar to your pan and heat the whole lot for a further 1 minute.

6. Split the washed chickweed amongst 2 plates; add your rested and roasted veg on top before adding the wilted nettle and vinaigrette. Enjoy with a glass of chilled white wine.

James Wood

James Wood is a renowned experimental wild food forager running wild food cookery and foraging courses throughout Cheshire. His Book ‘The Foragers’ Cookbook’ is now available through Amazon. www.totallywilduk.co.uk @totallywilduk

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