Knotweed and Morsels

Warm rainy days, cool nights, lilac’s blooming, spring green bright.

This is the time, after forsythia has blazed golden, gone to green, and given her petals to the ground, that the first tips of nettles emerge.

It is now that most of the burdock leaves have grown enormous; the smaller ones are what make for a tasty spring bitter sautee with garlic mustard and dandelion greens in olive oil, splashed with either tamari or balsamic vinaigrette and enjoyed as a side with fried or scrambled eggs.  A little bit goes a long way when eaten regularly.

This is also when knotweed shoots sprout up, growing to spears at an astonishing pace, in leaps and bounds, as well as those honeycomb jewels, those fragrant morsels of magic: morels make their first appearance. They’re difficult to spot at first but once your eye spies one, there and there and there, a few more seem to pop up right before them. We have yet to find a rampant area loaded with morels, as I have heard folks do, but we walkabout daily and gather six today, five yesterday, maybe two tomorrow and over time they add up to enough for a choice meal.

There is no better way, in my opinion, to enjoy morels foraged in this fashion than to sautee them in butter with a bit of finely minced garlic and enjoy with sourdough bread and a scoop of cooked knotweed.

Knotweed is a powerhouse of medicine, the roots tinctured are a fine ally for lyme’s disease . . . the roots are also extremely difficult to dig up but well worth the effort. Stubborn and gnarly, they form orange-brown snakes under ground and have to be excavated in the fashion of pipes in a field then snipped up with pruning shears to use in extractions; I use part Everclear and part 100 Proof Vodka.

Knotweed is also a tasty edible green.  There are folks who enjoy it sweetened, such as in jelly or compote or shrub, my preference is savory.  The shoots must be picked when no more than two hands high, roughly 8″ -10″, snapped at the bottom like asparagus.  Any taller and they become woody and tough, and are best left to form the thicket that come late summer to early autumn will bear delightful sprays of delicate plumage.  While knotweed shoots can be sauteed directly, we steam them first and then sautee them in butter, with garlic, and either fresh thyme or oregano, they are truly delicious when cooked this way.

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