Cooking with Daisy Greens

The first time I tried a fresh daisy green, I was in love. It reminded me of a mild, sweet parsley.

I love living in Northern Ontario, but our winters can sometimes drag on long enough that the first hints of spring are met with a special kind of enthusiasm and joy you feel in your heart.

Daisy is one of the first plants to greet us in the spring, often peeking out on a sun bathed hill while the rest of the forest still sleeps under a blanket of snow. Of course, I’ve been spoiled by store bought greens and homemade sprouts, but that first wild green forage of the year still feels like such a luxury after a long winter. 

My love had mentioned that daisy greens are a wild edible almost three years ago and we had casually been picking it and adding it to hummus toast from time to time, treating it like you would parsley or perhaps spinach in a variety of dishes (don’t worry the recipes are coming in just a sec!) before I had really done any research myself.

Foraging books do mention them, but seem to only recommend eating them sparingly in salads due to a strong flavour. Online, most of the resources I’ve seen described their flavour as pungent. Crazy Talk! Are these the same people that scorn broccoli? Pshaw!

Personally, I would describe the flavour as perhaps akin to Parsley, in fact, my first thought on tasting it was to make a kind of tabbouleh.

I am still not sure if this is because of what leaves I am harvesting (it’s still early in the season here and I’m collecting mostly fresh, basal leaves), because my area has a particularly delicious variety growing in the bush and along the old logging roads, or simply that I just like daisy greens more than others. 

And I really, really like daisy greens.

Harvesting

Find a good book or resource on identifying daisy greens, or ask an experienced forager. There are tons of great resources online.

I live in a heavily wooded area, and I almost never find daisy greens in the thick bush, I find them on old logging roads, in our back field, on the edges of sand pits and country roads. Most disturbed areas have tons of them.

I try to bring a small ‘foraging’ bag, which is just a reusable produce bag (brought locally, always a good idea 😉 ) on my dog walks, and can typically get about 1/2 to 1 cup of greens (while Charlie sniffs at questionable things) in an hour long walk (faster if I’m flexible and include young dandelion greens and plantain leaves).

Other times, we just walk around the yard and gardens for 10-15 minutes and grab whatever’s growin’.

Once I’ve collected them, I wash them in a bowl of cold water and dry in a regular salad spinner, or sieve:

How to Cook Daisy Greens

You can eat daisy greens raw in any salad, or use it as parsley as a garnish. If cooking, treat it as you would spinach, adding it to the dish at the very end.

Daisy Green Grain Salad

Cook a grain, such as bulgur, quinoa or a hard nutty rice normally. The grain should not be overcooked and have an al dente texture.

Add vegan margarine or olive oil, finely chopped shallots or red onion, and chopped daisy greens to warm grains for a tasty wild pilaf.

Finish with a few drops of Champagne vinegar, White Balsamic vinegar or very little White Wine Vinegar and serve warm.

This one got rave reviews at my house!

Quick Trail Salad

Out on the trail for a day trip, or camping for multiple days? Don’t go without your precious greens, forage!

Bring:

  • dressing, such as a simple concoction of 1 part balsamic vinegar to 2 parts olive oil with a bit of mustard, maple syrup and obviously GARLIC
  • a bowl
  • a crunchy fun topping, such as coconut bacon, hemp or other seeds, or croutons
  • a fork (optional)

Toss a fresh daisy green (and maybe some dandelion greens, plantain, or other wild edibles) salad at the camp and leave those expensive freeze dried chemical laden nonsense things in the store.

Quick Trail Stir Fry

If you’ve got enough edibles in season, you can also make a quick trail stir fry. So much fun!

Pictured above, I packed in some sun dried tomatoes, and chopped onions (ramps would’ve been amazing but alas we didn’t have any on this trip) then we added cattail shoots, daisy greens, plaintain and dandelion leaves.

Fancy Everything Salad

In the evening, we like to walk around the yard, while my sweetheart checks on all her plants and I make smart ass remarks and pick “weeds” AKA edible salad deliciousness.

When I do wild salad I generally add a few pantry and fridge ingredients, like sourdough croutons, hemp, lentils and (maybe pickled maybe fresh) red onions, and a few things out of the garden like basil, oregano, chives

But the star is always the freshly wild harvested greens from the lawn. There’s just something about eating a salad that was actively growing less than an hour prior.

Here is one of our filled foraging baskets, you can see the daisy greens at the top centre. This haul also included hosta greens, fiddleheads, violets, spruce tips and dandelion greens.

Wild salad is fancy enough that you can serve it with something simple, like a daiya grilled cheese (could’ve made homemade cheese as well or had hummus toast) is enough to pair with it for a light summer evening meal.

Stuffed Sourdough Foccacia

A homemade sourdough focaccia inspired by a Jamie Oliver 30 Minute Meals episode.

This one was made with a quick homemade vegan nut cheese, pickled cattails, roasted red peppers, garlic, onion, maitake mushrooms and of course the star of the show, daisy greens.

I did this once again with a top layer

Spinach Daisy Greens Lasagna

This is an example where you can pretty much follow the package directions and replace ‘spinach’ with ‘stuff from the lawn.’

Bottom layer was marinara, then lasagna noodles, then homemade nut based cheesy sauce, then a layer of greens, then noodles, marinara, cheezy sauce, greens, noodles, marinara, cheezy sauce and top with a few greens as garnish.

Mushroom Stroganoff with Daisy Greens

This recipe uses homemade veggie meat, mushrooms in a roux sauce and tossed wild greens including daisy greens

How do you eat your daisy greens?

Tell me in the comments!

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