I have been enviously reading about other bloggers foraging for free food. Darren of Green Change collected Lilly Pillies from his workplace and made a selection of foods including Lilly Pillies On Horseback and Lilly Pilly Stuffed Chicken Breast. He also recently made a Feral Fruit Filo Pastry from peaches collected from a roadside. Ally and Rich of Happy Earth were lucky enough to be part of a fruit rescue team that collected fruit from abandoned orchards in the Illawarra area and Bel recently posted over at the Simple Green and Frugal Coop regarding her use of edible native plants in her garden.
I have been actively searching for free food to forage for weeks – with no luck. Finally on Monday whilst walking through a local wetland I found some free food - Native Spinach (Tetragonia tetraganoides), also known as New Zealand Spinach or Warrigal Greens. Native spinach is a relatively common ‘Bush tucker’ and was one of the first native Australian vegetables to become popular with European settlers. Looking for ways to fight scurvy, Captain Cook encouraged his men to eat them, and many convicts owed their lives to the spinach-like plant. The plant was taken back to England by the botanist Joseph Banks and became popular summer vegetable known as Botany Bay Greens. It is apparently the only Australian plant to be grown internationally as a vegetable.
I collected some leaves and ripe fruit. I used the leaves in a Pumpkin, Fetta and Spinach Frittata, simply substituting the English Spinach for the Native Spinach. It was delicious! The native Spinach is really salty – adding a lovely salty taste to the Frittata.
I learnt after cooking the Frittata that caution should be taken with Warrigal Greens, as the leaves contain toxic oxalates, which can be harmful if consumed in large quantities. You can remove the oxalates by blanching the leaves for 3 minutes or so, then rinsing in cold water. Oops! Something I didn’t do. Luckily we didn’t consume 'large quantities’.
I’m currently drying the fruit and plan to propagate plants to use as a ground cover under our Lilly Pilly hedge. I love the idea of a native ornamental edible garden!