Early spring roots are packed with nutrients, says naturalist and author "Wildman" Steve Brill, who teaches people how to find and feast on wild plants. He created these recipes featuring roots common to most forest trails. Not into foraging? All three meals are easily prepared with grocery-store substitutes.
Baked Wild Parsnips
A crunchy side dish for soup or pasta.
3 cups wild parsnips, coarsely sliced (substitute: regular parsnips)
2 tbs. vegetable oil
1 tbs. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. rosemary
dash of cayenne hot pepper or
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
Combine the thyme, rosemary, cayenne, and salt in one zip-top bag. Stash the vegetable oil and vinegar in a plastic container.
Slice the parsnips coarsely. Mix all ingredients together on a plate. Wrap the mixture in aluminum foil, place over hot coals, and bake 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Serves 4.
Basic Burdock Rice
This potato-like root soaks up salty spices.
1/2 cup burdock, thinly sliced (substitute: canned water chestnuts)
2 vegetable bouillon cubes (for 2 cups of water)
1 cup instant brown rice (try Success-brand "Boil-in-a-Bag Brown Rice")
1 tbs. tamari soy sauce
1 tbs. olive oil or other vegetable oil
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. sage
1 tsp. rosemary
Combine all dry ingredients in a zip-top bag. Pour wet ingredients into separate plastic containers.
Slice water chestnuts or burdock into 1/16-inch slices. Combine all ingredients in a quart-size pot. Cover, and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Serves 4.
Wild Carrot-Onion Soup
The untamed ancestor of the common carrot is sharply sweet and chewy.
4 cups of wild carrots (substitute: regular carrots)
3 vegetable bouillon cubes (for 3 cups of water)
2 tbs. arrowroot or kudzu powder
1/2 cup dried onions
4 cloves of garlic, chopped at home or in the field (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
2 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. lemon
2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Store all dry ingredients and bouillon in separate zip-top bags. Stow lemon juice in small plastic container.
At camp Slice carrots and reconstitute the bouillon. Simmer all ingredients together 15 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Serves 4.