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September 28, 2020
Friends and I have been keeping our heads above water -- i.e., staying sane -- by planning small, socially-distanced, outdoors and over-by-sunset dinners celebrating our local edibles and inspired by the publication of Forage, Harvest, Feast by Marie Viljoen. Our first "mugwort" dinner was a huge success with mugwort soup; stuffed pork loin with mugwort and garlic; mugwort cottage fries, and mugwort poached pears.
Mugwort is the very colorful and Dickensian name given to Artemisia vulgaris, a thuggish invasive in my neck of the woods. But who knew it was so delicious and marries so well with pork, potatoes, and eggs? This is less surprising, though, when you learn that it is a relative of that great culinary herb: tarragon or Artemisia dracunculus. The best way I can describe mugwort is that it's a cross between sage and rosemary though unlike sage, it stays bright green during cooking, and unlike rosemary, it is readily available most of the year. One of my favorite mugwort dishes, which I did not serve at the dinner, was a mugwort, corn, and potato crustless quiche.
Mugwort is easy to identify -- look for the silvery underside of the leaves and the herbal scent -- and don't eat anything you're unsure of! And it has the added advantage (or disadvantage when it comes to eradicating this voracious invasive, which is native to Europe and Asia but has now made its home all along our roadways and in our fields) of having a very long growing season and of spreading by rhizomes as well as seeds. Which means that one can always find young, fresh leaves to cook with -- and can easily avoid old fibrous leaves and stems. As always, wash whatever wild plants you harvest and don't pick near roadways or anywhere plants might have been sprayed.
Mugwort, corn, and potato crustless quiche.
6 eggs (Omega-3 eggs of course!)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup grated cheese -- I used a compo of cheddar and parmesan
1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste
1 cup added ingredients, including 3 Tablespoons onion sautéed until soft in canola oil and 3 heaping Tablespoons chopped mugwort leaves (no stems) added to the onion at the end of the sautéing
For the rest of the cup of optional ingredients use:
yellow potatoes chopped into bite-size pieces and boiled until cooked
corn or any other vegetable you have on hand and cut into small pieces
Whisk eggs and add milk, cheeses, salt and pepper. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and pour into a pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees until set. Remove from oven and wait ten minutes or so to serve.
Hint: The first time I made this dish, all the mugwort floated to the top of the quiche. It tasted fantastic, but I would have preferred the mugwort to be distributed throughout. The next time I make this quiche, I'm going to roughly chop the cooked potatoes and sautéed mugwort and onions together and hope for a better -- greener -- distribution.
BTW, mugwort -- like all green leaves -- has a good ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6s. Be sure, though, to use Omega-3 eggs and canola oil to make this a dish as healthy as possible. I served it with a green salad and hot bread. Enjoy.
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