Eating out in the wild this month? Why pack a salad when you can scour hedgerows for woodland treats?
Al fresco dinners take on a new, more exciting element in early autumn. You can still enjoy mild days and longer evenings but also bring out more robust flavours and warming dishes that just shout ‘Autumn’ at you.
In our September issue, we have a very special ‘gathering’ feature we’ve called Into The Woods, with recipes by Rachel de Thample. It’s all about cooking over a fire and making the most of the great outdoors before the days become shorter, with everything from koftas and flatbreads to pear crumble and apple hot toddies. We particularly liked this simple Wild September Salad, which you can serve as part of this campfire feast or at any late summer, early autumn picnic. Just find your way to a likely looking hedgerow and see what nature has provided.
Leaves to look out for
Yarrow Feathery leaves resembling camomile – delicious aniseed flavour.
Alkanet Use the smaller, newer leaves and pretty blue flowers, which taste like cucumber.
Three-cornered leek Looks like wild garlic, tastes like wild garlic, but its triangular stems enjoy a late flush in early autumn.
Wild rocket Resembles farmed rocket, although the leaves range from greyish green to dark green. Smells peppery.
Shepherd’s purse Its tiny love-heartlike seed pods have a nice punchy, mustardy flavour.
Wood sorrel Small clover-like leaves, only smaller and tinged bronze; lemony tasting.
(There’s a good hedgerow food guide at wildfooduk.com.) Wash freshly picked leaves well, then pat dry with kitchen towel. Tumble together in a large bowl to mix and either pack into flatbreads or serve as a side with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.