California Foraging: San Gabrielino

Eli Newell went out for another hike with foragers Mia Wasilevich and Pascal Baudar of Transitional Gastronomy, this time on the hunt for an all-wild salad.

With the winter rain in Southern California comes a ton of wild greens, including chickweed and lambsquarter. Eli and Pascal found those ingredients, as well as oxalis and deadly nightshade to complete the salad. Oxalis tastes like a certain supermarket ingredient, and nightshade, as it turns out, isn't so deadly after all.

We came back and dressed the salad; Roughly the recipe was 1/4 cup freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Add any fresh herbs you like.

To complete the meal, Mia taught us to make croquettes using foraged seed. Luckily you can substitute a rather popular mainstream ingredient if need be ... watch the video to find out more!

Here is the croquette recipe from Mia:

Lambsquarter Croquettes
Makes about 12 small cakes
1/2 cup washed and dried lambsquarter seeds (doesn't matter if some are still green or if they are not dried all the way)
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (or fresh if you have)
1/8 cup freshly grated parmesan, pecorino or whatever hard cheese you prefer
1-2 eggs, depending on size
Carrots, onion, celery (about a tablespoon of each, finely diced)
Garlic or shallot (about a teaspoon or to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

You are going to cook the lambsquarter seeds as you would quinoa. I used 1 cup water to 1/2 cup seeds and found that I had to add a little more, so 1 and 1/4 cups water. Cook until all the water is absorbed (15-20 minutes). The lambsquarter seeds absorb the water quickly. My seeds weren't bitter, but I suggest you soak them for an hour or blanch them for a few minutes to remove any bitterness. Once cooked, set aside.

Finely mince your mirapoix and saute in olive oil until transluscent, add garlic at the last moment and remove from heat once you can smell it. Once cooled, combine all ingredients together (make sure your eggs are beaten first). Add whatever herbs you like or have in your garden. I used thyme and Spanish tarragon.

Test the mixture and form into a patty. Does it hold its shape? If not it may need more of a binder e.g. more grated cheese or a bit more egg. Is it too heavy? Add more panko or bread crumbs. Taste and test.

Once thoroughly combined, form into patties and chill them and let them set for 30 minutes and then you can brown them in a cast iron pan with a butter and oil mix and finish them in the oven (350 F) for 10 minutes. Top with a sauce of garlic, shallots, white wine and lambsquarter leaves pureed together (or whatever herb-y sauce you have in your recipe arsenal).

Watch the first California Foraging here.

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About the Author

Katherine's role as the Living editor at KCET.org keeps her running from farms to markets to restaurants to pop-up swaps all over SoCal. She's been living in and writing about this area for over a decade.
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