'Tis the season for fields full of ladies carefully picking bags full of wild bitter greens. In the Candigliano Valley (Le Marche, Italy) our fields are peppered with wild radicchio, erbe di campo, dandelion greens, wild lettuces, strighi & much more ready to be picked & eaten.
A few days ago we took a cooking class into the field to forage for dinner. We filled sacks of these bitter greens just begging to be added to a frittata, topped on crostini, sauteed or eaten raw.
At first glance you will pass right over thinking it is just a plain ol' field full of weeds, but look a little closer & you'll find dinner. I am always amazed at the fact that greens that are prized & eaten here are mowed over in the States without thinking twice. In the States they are pesky weeds, in Italy a delicious antipasto!
Once you know what to look for its easy:
What to do with bitter wild greens?
First wash well they came from a muddy field.
* Wild lettuces - a bit bitter, can be eaten raw mixed with sweet lettuces.
* Wild radicchio - very bitter. Blanch in boiling water, saute & pair with stracchino soft cheese and top on crostini
* Erbe di campo (field herbs) - boil, saute with olive oil, garlic & a squeeze of lemon
How to cut the bitterness:
To mellow the bitter flavor of wild spring greens it is best to pair them with fats that cut the flavor for example: olive oil and/or cheeses (ricotta, stracchino or soft creamy cheeses). You can also go sweet - toss the greens with a reduce balsamic or honey and you will create a completely different taste.