Foraged & Found CSA: Week 3

Week 2 of the Foraged and Found Edibles CSA has come and gone. Let’s review. I remembered to take a picture this time.

A variety of food laid out on a table: a paper bag with some extremely normal mushrooms spilling out of it, a plastic bag with some green leafy stuff with visible stems, two plastic containers one of which contains small spiky green plant bits and the other of which contains what looks like thick blades of grass, a small jar of grayish mottled powder, and a sealable plastic bag with dried mushrooms.
Clockwise from the upper left: shiitake mushrooms, wild salad mix, spruce tips, truffle salt, dried lobster mushrooms, goose tongue.

Shiitake mushrooms

Good old shiitake mushrooms. Usually I get these dried and use them to umami up my vegetable stocks, so it was good to have some fresh ones, but they seemed pretty mild. I used about half in a fried rice and the other half in some beans, about which more later. Not much interesting to say about them; they’re available in pretty much any grocery store.

Wild salad mix

A salad. It honestly looks not very different from any other salad, though the leaves are a bit more varied in size and stems are a little more prevalent. Wild greens salad.

This, on the other hand, was interesting. The newsletter claimed it contained

flowering miner’s lettuce, wood sorrel, oxeye daisy greens, beach spinach, wild watercress and mustard flowers,

which: sure! I’ve never heard of any of those things, but they’re definitely all… plants. We made a simple dressing and augmented these greens with some dried fruit and nuts. They made a decent salad, and also introduced a new dimension of flavor into my vocabulary. I’ve seen the word “gamey” used to refer to edible wild plants, but for me it seems applicable only to meat, so while others might call this salad “gamey,” I would call it “yardy.” The unique flavor reminded me of nothing so much as the smell of the trimmings when you mow a weedy lawn. It was not my favorite, but it was a good and different experience for a few meals’ worth of salads.

Goose tongue.

A bowl of white beans, unremarkable except for a blob of white ricotta cheese, green pesto and red pepper sauce on top. White beans with toppings.

This “salty sea grass” continued my three-week pesto streak. I made the mistake of using sunflower seeds in the pesto, and they completely drowned out whatever interesting flavor the goose tongue might have had. It was an OK pesto, but I really underestimated how overpowering sunflower seeds can be! By this point we were swimming in pesto. I prepared some white beans very simply by sautéeing some mirepoix with the aforementioned shiitake mushrooms while pressure cooking the beans to cookedness, and then finished the whole deal in the pan. I’m always surprised how good beans are with very little special treatment, and these served as an excellent base on which to dollop some pesto, cheese, this spicy Italian fermented pepper stuff I got from Trader Joe’s, or all three. Also some good balsamic to finish it off.

Sitka spruce tips.

A small jar of salt, speckled with green motes. Spruce tip salt.

These were probably the most interesting ingredient this week, so I wanted to get a lot of mileage out of them. I made three things: a syrup, an infused oil, and an infused salt. I haven’t tried the oil yet, and it and the syrup both came out kind of a dull, muddy green despite the vibrancy of the spruce tips themselves, but the salt (which I also haven’t used yet) ended up being very pretty. The flavor of the syrup, which I’ve had on a yogurt breakfast and in a couple Italian sodas, is strikingly citrus-y, a little floral, and completely absent of the pineyness I expected from the name. To be honest, I was a tad disappointed by this, as pine seems like it could be a very interesting flavor, but the actual flavor is pleasant enough and probably much easier to use. I also tried just popping one of these little suckers into my mouth. I can’t recommend it. The citrus notes were pretty overwhelmed by a bitterness and the unpleasant sensation of chewing on a tiny, soft pine tree.

Black Douglas Fir truffle salt.

I haven’t tried this yet since it will presumably keep a long time, but I was pleased to discover it doesn’t have the overpoweringly earthy and kind of sulfurous smell of the more conventional (non-Black Douglas Fir?) truffles I’ve been exposed to.

Dried lobster mushrooms

Haven’t tried these yet either, for the same reason, but I’m excited to find the right use for them.