While she was growing up in rural Indiana, F&W Best New Chef 2016 Iliana Regan would often hunt with her family for wild mushrooms and edible plants. Today, that means you'll find all kinds of delicious, indigenous ingredients on the menu at her Chicago restaurant, Elizabeth. "Since my time is more limited these days, I'll spend two or three days a month foraging. I go to a farm in Deerfield, IL where I know I can get everything I'm looking for," she says. Here, Regan shares seven of her favorite gatherable Midwestern ingredients.
"You can find them in hedgerows and open fields and the shoots are great to use as you would asparagus. I use it in a cold soup. You can fry the soft young pods, which have a really awesome woodsy flavor. When they go to bloom, the flowers are beautiful for a garnish."
2. Stinging Nettle
"You can use this as you would for any cooked spinach preparation. It's great to blend into egg yolks and make pasta or blanch it and mix it with cheese for a delicious pasta filling. I've done stinging nettle ricotta pasta."