Right now in the spring is the perfect time to make a healthy free salad of wild herbs. As a city person you have a bit of a disadvantage then (On the Danube Canal and Augarten, where I live, I would not dare to pick some greens …), but fortunately, Vienna and its surroundings have quite a lot of green areas, which are not far away and I also heard that there are people who have their own garden 😉 .
What kind of greens should I pick?
Dandelions and stinging nettles, for example, grow in Austria in masses, and are easily recognized (nevertheless, in the next paragraph, I got an embarrassing story about this topic). But also, for example, sorrel, marigold, yarrow or watercress have many vitamins and can be found in the Vienna area. Depending on where you live, you might just check the internet for edible wild herbs that grow nearby.
Stinging nettles… easy to recognize, aren’t they?
In my enthusiasm about wild herbs I recently headed for Stammersdorf, a nice area in the Viennese suburbs with (by the way) many nice Heurigen. I wanted to pick some stinging nettles for soups and salads. So I got my rubber gloves and packed a bag and went for it. I then also picked the flowers of the nettles, so the salad looks pretty for the camera. Because my family lives in Stammersdorf, I had my harvest prepared right there. As my dad comes home from work, me, totally proud of my harvest: “Dad! I picked wild herbs! But tell … can you also eat this purple flowers of the nettles? ”
So has turned out that I …
… with all of my enthusiasm…had confused stinging nettles with deadnettles… embarrassing … And I was even wondering why the nettles do not burn and taste so boring … nettles have definitely white and no purple flowers and although they are not poisonous, I can n ot recommend to eat them. (But I used the purple flowers for my pics anyway)
Because I was so busy at the time with cooking, my dad then had to go out to pick me the right kind of nettles.
Preparation of stinging nettles and other greens
For collecting stinging nettles you should pack some gloves (eg. rubber gloves or gardening gloves). When you cook them, they stop “stinging”, but if you wanna use them for a salad, grab a dishtowel, pack the nettles into it, and then knead the towel very well. One should only use the tips of the nettles (about the top 5 cm of the plant), which taste best and are not as bitter as the larger leaves at the lower parts of the plant. Then you can chop them.
Other greens like dandelion leaves can be treated like any other salad stuff, so wash and chop …. for my wild herbs salad, besides stinging nettles and dandelion greens, I also used daisy flowers.
For the dressing of course there are endless possibilities. I’ve made a simple vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.