Rachel Lambert: forager, author, guide
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Gift wrapped, homemade, wild spiced candied almonds

A crunchy unrefined sugared snack complete with the delightful zing of hogweed seeds. Inspired by my talented friend and chef Fiona Were. Fiona created a delicious hogweed seed caramel for a group of foodie Americans whom I took foraging here in Cornwall. This recipe balances the carbohydrate of sugars with the protein of nuts and, in my experience, gives a definite lift to sluggish afternoons.

Hogweed seeds (Heracleum sphondylium) is a member of the umbellifer (carrot) family and must be identified correctly to avoid illness or death!

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Freshly baked hogweed seed biscuits on plate and cooling rack

When I first used Hogweed seeds, this light, spongy textured biscuit was the carrier I chose for their unique flavour.

Perfectly balanced with flours and spice, it’s a simple, reassuring lightly spiced treat and a good place to start if your unfamiliar with hogweed’s flavour.

Hogweed is a member of the umbellifer, apiaceae, also known as carrot family. There are wonderful edibles and poisonous plants in this family and correct identification is essential.

A dried seed-head of Common Hogweed with a ploughed field behind

Hogweed Spiced Biscuit recipe

 

Makes 20

Ingredients

  • 90 g salted butter (room temperature)
  • 100 g soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 75 g wholemeal flour
  • 100 g plain flour
  • 1½ tsp of baking powder
  • 3 tbsp water (if needed)
  • 1 dessertspoon of hogweed seeds, ground, or chopped
Crumbly hogweed seed biscuits on baking paper

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Cream the butter and sugar in a separate bowl, then beat in the egg and wild spices. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, stirring in well. If needed, add the water, little by little to the mix, the mix should be firm so you can roll it into a log shape of about 3 centimetres in diameter. Cover this with grease-proof paper and put in the fridge for an hour, or several if you have the time.

Preheat the oven at 190°C. Slice up the log into 1 cm pieces and shape into flat circular patties and place on a greased baking tray. Cook for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with tea or juice.

Freshly baked hogweed seed biscuits

Common hogweed (aka cow parsnip) is common across Europe and the US and also found in New Zealand and Australia. I regularly teach about this plant from spring through to winter on my foraging courses, including how to correctly identify it.

Common hogweed shoots, also known as cow parsnip (Heracleum sphondylium ) add an aromatic twist to this Indian dahl recipe. Think of this common weed as the exotic, wild vegetable and you'll be close to what hogweed offers us. A good dahl is simple to create and is a great carrier for mild spices and the shoots offer a subtle flavour, neither overpowering nor underwhelming.

As I'm making this during the COVID-19 pandemic, I'm using spices and ingredients that I have at home. Feel free to increase or replace spices with ones that you have to hand. There really are a multitude of ways to make a good dahl.

Handful of common hogweed, cow parsnip shoots
Collecting spring hogweed shoots

I lalso ove the lemon (or lime) addition in this recipe, it compliments the hogweed shoots perfectly. I hope it's a good introduction to this plant for you. It only uses a little hogweed and I don't advise increasing the amount!

Hogweed shoots

To find out more about Common hogweed shoots and how to identify them, check out my blogs on; foraging for hogweed shoots in spring, hogweed shoots in a cake, exploring other names for hogweed and a simple recipe, plus hogweed shoots in a spring farinata.

Cow parsnip shoots

The Recipe: Dahl with Hogweed Shoots

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red lentils 150g
  • 3 cups water  600ml
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, or equivalent in wild garlic
  • ½  tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 bay leaf
  • juice of 1 lime or 1/3-1/2 lemon
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4-6 small common hogweed shoots

Place lentils in a sieve and rinse well in cold water. Pour cleaned lentils into a medium sauce pan and add 3 cups of water. Bring lentils & water the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the lentils are soft.  While the lentils are cooking bring a separate small pot of water to a boil and score the peel of the tomatoes with a sharp knife in the shape of an “X”. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water and blanch for one minute. Remove the tomatoes to a bowl to cool, once cool, peel the tomatoes and cut out and discard the tough stem end. Chop the tomatoes and slice the hogweed shoots into 2 inch lengths and put both aside.

Slice onions and garlic and heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, cooking till translucent, about 3 minutes, add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the cumin, fenugreek and mustard seeds, cook and stir for another 2-3 minutes, then add bay leaf and turmeric. Add this mixture to the lentils and cook for a couple of minutes. Add salt and pepper, lime juice, hogweed shoots and tomatoes and cook for a further 10 minutes or until hogweed shoots are soft. Adjust salt if necessary.

Wild Indian Thali recipe

For a really wild Indian thali, why not serve with some of my other wild food recipes. Such as; rice flavoured with ground magnolia, nettle pakoras and dulse dukkah stuffed chapatis from my Seaweed foraging book. Just a thought!

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