Monday, April 27, 2015

Wild herbs and weeds for lunch

Country lore and the table

The 4th Sunday of every month a small organic market is held at Greve in Chianti where almost all the produce is local. The market is called Il Pagliaio which literally means straw rick or stack.

Fresh bread and other baked goods, herbs and spices, preserves and jams, cheeses, wine and oil are all on sale. One or two stalls also sell their farm-grown vegetables. And one stall in particular, run by two soft-spoken farmers, husband and wife, specializes in fresh herbs and edible 'weeds' gathered in the countryside. 
strigoli, clematis vitalba sprouts and wild asparagus

Last Sunday we acquired wild asparagus, a small-leafed salad vegetable called strigoli and vitalba which is actually wild clematis vitalba, in the form of its tender young sprouts.
vitalba lightly braised with some chopped leek in olive oil
The farmer explained how to prepare these items: the asparagus in risotto (the hard stems get boiled to make a good risotto broth, the tips are reserved for the final stages of the risotto); the strigoli (silene vulgaris) as a salad vegetable or also in risotto, lightly boiled; and the vitalba in an omelette.
add eggs, pepper and salt
It was both charming to eat something gathered in the wild and sobering to think that once people did this from necessity. 
eccola! wild clematis sprouts omelette
 In any case, it was very good.

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