Spring is all around and so are the fruits of nature, you only have to know what you're looking for. And after going on a foraging walk a couple of weeks ago with a friend, I discovered a new, foragable food that is in abundance in the UK at this time of year - goosegrass. It's everywhere, including in big crops right on my doorstep where I walk the dogs. It's very distinctive, as it feels sticky, and it tastes great - a bit like spinach when cooked, with a slightly more bitter edge, like rocket (but not as strong).
So free food, grown in nature, that tastes good. How can you grumble? A true gift. Therefore I set about making my first recipe ever with goosegrass, and decided on this very budget-friendly Goosegrass & Pea Macaroni Salad, which is easy, tasty, and full of garlicky flavour. Something that you could quickly try yourself if you go out and harvest some of the goosegrass that you'll no doubt find all around you.
I shared this salad with friends and it got the thumbs up. Using frozen, budget-buy peas added some extra greenery while keeping the cost of the recipe down, and the other ingredients are store-cupboard ones, mostly. I very much enjoyed the flavour of the goosegrass - and from the bit of reading I've done around it, it seems to be a nutritional plant that also has medicinal benefits.
On our foraging walk, we found hawthorn in abundance too, another readily available, edible plant. However, the leaves taste of so little that I'd only bother picking it I think if I desperately needed extra leafy greens in my diet but couldn't afford them, or if I wanted to add some texture and a presentation to a salad.
Further recipe tips:
1. I use a home-made garlic vegan mayonnaise, but if you want to use a commercial one, just add some extra garlic into the recipe.
2. Canola/rapeseed oil would suffice in place of oilive oil, as only a small amount is needed.
3. There is no excuse not to use freshly picked goosegrass, since it is so abundant you can probably forage it when you need it! The fresher, the better!
Goosegrass & Pea Macaroni Salad
Serves 4 (as a side or with bread/other salads for a more substantial meal)
1½ cups dry macaroni
1½ cups fresh goosegrass, chopped
½ cup frozen peas
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons vegan garlic mayonnaise (I used home made)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
1. In a pan of boiling, salted water, cook the macaroni until just done (normally about 10 minutes, check your brand). With a couple of minutes to go before the pasta is cooked, add the frozen peas, and then with just a minute or so, add the chopped goosegrass so it is just being blanched in the pan.
2. Remove from the heat, and drain and rinse the macaroni with cold water, drain again and then place in a bowl, cover and put into the refrigerator to chill (1-2 hours).
3. While the macaroni is chilling, make the salad dressing by whisking all the remaining ingredients together with a fork in a small jug. Leave to chill in the fridge.
4. When the macaroni is chilled as mush as you require, stir in the dressing and serve!