A Smart Gardener Cooks with Weeds

Bad weeds grow tall. Everyone owning and maintaining a garden knows what this means. Painfully. Apart from gardening in Dubai, there is a lot less weeds around thanks to hot climate. I have never seen the below described weed there. Lucky me! But anywhere else there is a constant fight against the ever growing weeds hiding between the beautiful flowers and plants we want to spread their leaves. Weeds just mingle and try to match as long as they are young. Later they take over your garden. This can happen before you know it. And then it becomes a big task to eliminate them. But necessary, if you wish your wanted plants to have space to breathe. I am sometimes undecided about so called weeds. They can be a delicious asset to the kitchen. Sometimes at least.
Gardeners for sure know ground-elder. It belongs to the carrot family and is named the worst weed ever for a garden.
BUT: It is edible! Ah, great idea: The smart gardener cooks with weeds. Organic weed management, ha!
Let’s eliminate it by heavy use in the kitchen then…I thought and yes, this works if you manage to use it often enough. Here is one recipe I like, with crispy fried ground-elder leaves. Fried their taste is really lovely. The raw leaves can be eaten in salads as long as they are young and tender. They have an earthy taste, matching well with anything of sweeter taste like sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkin for example.
The picture shows ground-elder leaves with marigold blossoms, both picked for the following recipe. (You can see I am on summer holidays in my Bavarian home, and gardening. Sometimes.)

Pumpkin Soup with Fried Ground Elder and Marigold
2 Portions

What to Buy
200 g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded
1 small potato, peeled
1 carrot
1 onion, peeled
1 small piece of ginger, peeled
350 ml vegetable stock or water
75 ml cream, whipped
salt, pepper to taste
1 organic orange (juice and zest)
1/2 red chili, deseeded, chopped
1 good hand full of young ground elder leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 marigold blossoms for garnish

How to Make It

Cut the carrot, onion, potato, ginger and pumpkin into chunky pieces. Boil them for around 10 minutes in 250 ml water or vegetable stock until they are soft enough to puree. Blend water/stock and vegetable pieces to a creamy soup. It could be that you need a little bit more additional liquid to achieve the right texture. Then season the soup with salt and pepper. I often add a dash of orange juice and zest, and sometimes I love to add a little bit of fresh chili too. But this is my very personal taste. Without you get the milder version. Just try it….!
For the crispy ground-elder preheat a non stick pan. Fry the leaves in the hot oil for just a few seconds and pat dry them on a kitchen cloth. Note: The oil must not be too hot though, otherwise the leaves turn brown.
Garnish the soup with whipped cream, topped with crispy ground-elder and marigold blossoms.

Chef Gabi’s Tip

Ground elder has got some remarkable health benefits too: It can be used against rheumatic diseases, and strengthens kidneys and bladder. Overall it is said to activate our metabolism, helps to detox our system and provides us with chlorophyll and Vitamin C. Not bad for a so called “bad ” weed, isn’t it?

Stay healthy, balanced and enjoy life!

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