on shades of green.
New growth pushing upward and outward-expansion into lengthening days and warming temperatures.
Walking boots turn muddy as they explore glens and hills. a narrow gorge. daffodil lined roadways perfumed with the scent of gorse and the sound of spring lambs.
Spring gifts us with a variety of tasty wild greens to nourish us before our gardens have had a chance to fully come to life. Filled with nutrients, and deep green in color, they fulfill our cravings after a long winter. Wild ramps coat the stream banks, and steep walls of the glen and gorge. Nettles tuck themselves along the woodland edges, their new and tender growth one of my favorite spring foods.
For those of you who have not yet met nettle, her stems are coated in little hairs that 'sting' if you rub against them. When I first started harvesting, I wore gloves, (and I would definitely recommend this when you are starting out), but now I often pluck the tops off the new young growth with my bare hands. I find that if I am mindful I rarely get stung. Before eating, the cell walls of nettle need to be broken down, either through heating such as steaming or sautéing, or through pounding or grinding as you would do in a mortar and pestle.
Ramps, or ramsons, are in the onion and garlic family. I find them most commonly living in damp woods, especially where streams are flowing. They make the woodland smell of garlic when at their peak. You can pull the whole plant and eat the bulb and greens, but I often just gather the greens, plucking a few leaves from each plant so that they can continue to grow and propagate themselves.
A familiar way to introduce these wild greens into your meals is by making them into an omelet filling. Gather your tender nettle tops (You want to pick them before they have started to flower/go to seed. I usually just pick the top cluster of four leaves off the top of the young plants). They shrink quite a bit when cooked, so keep that in mind when trying to figure out how many you will need. You can also combine them with spinach or other spring greens. Remember they will sting until cooked, so you may want to wear gloves when handling them. Simmer them in a bit of water until well wilted. Then drain and set aside. Meanwhile chop up the ramp greens as you would a spring onion. Grate your favorite type of cheese-I like to use a hard sheep cheese for this filling combo. Prepare your eggs as you would when making any other omelet-I like two egg omelets and sometimes add a dash of water to thin the eggs, my partner likes to add a dash of cream. When the eggs are ready, fill with the steamed greens, chopped ramps, and grated cheese. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and you have a yummy breakfast or easy dinner.
*If these plants are new to you, remember to always go gathering with someone who is familiar with them until you are sure that you are able to identify them on your own. Offer gratitude to the plants when you are picking, and remember to only take what you need, leaving plenty so that they may thrive and continue to nourish for years to come.