I can not tell you how grateful I am to be here. In such a beautiful place, in the company of such kind people. The family I’m staying with invited me to join them on a hike over the weekend. As we ambled along the sandy pathways up into the hills, we must have stopped a hundred times to taste the incredible wild foods growing by the side of the track.
I’ve foraged for wild foods in England before. It’s something I absolutely love. Like a true return to nature. Knowing what’s edible and how to cook it. Just incredible. There are lots of edible plants growing close to my cottage in Derbyshire, but Portugal is something else! Wild blackberries, figs, almonds, walnuts, fennel, orange blossom, neshpera fruit and so much more. We only had to walk 100 yards to stop at yet another edible tree, plant or bush.
The salad I’ve made includes the wild fennel I picked which has some amazing health benefits. It tastes like regular fennel, a warm aniseed flavour. The plant was known to the ancient Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, and Greek civilisations and the Roman scholar Pliny recommended it for improving eyesight. Said to be an appetite suppressant, it’s also used as a natural insect repellent, in the treatment of gastrointestinal inflammation and to soothe indigestion.
The flowers of the orange blossom symbolise joy, courage and love. They taste sweet and bitter and apparently create mild sedating effects on the central nervous system which makes them an excellent treatment for insomnia and anxiety.
Aside from the amazing medicinal properties of this salad, it tastes fragrant and absolutely delicious!
Avocado, butter beans, red onion, rocket, spinach + orange blossom and wild fennel
I’m limited a little on dressings out here so I’ve gone for a little olive oil, balsamic and lavender honey to flavour but not overpower the warm, floral taste of the salad.
*NOTE ~ never eat flowers or plants if you are not absolutely sure what you’re foraging for. As much as some offer incredible health benefits, others can be highly poisonous. It goes without saying that we have an obligation to respect nature. Only ever pick what you need and leave plenty behind to ensure the plant has strength to grow.