Foraging 101: Central Park Salad
Yesterday fellow F&W editor Kristin Donnelly and I joined a foraging walk of Central Park guided by naturalist “Wildman” Steve Brill, who’s on his 25th year of leading tours through area parks and forests. During our four-hour hike we encountered greens I’ve only seen on the fanciest salad plates—lemony sheep sorrel, spinachy lamb’s quarters, resiny epazote—as well as burdock and sassafras root, which I’ll attempt to brew into homemade root beer. But the best find of all was field garlic (allium vineale; here are some pictures), which grows abundantly around the park’s secluded Ramble area. The bulb of this hollow-stemmed plant is a Lilliputian copy of full-size garlic and can be cooked similarly. Kristin slowly cooked hers in a pan with baby potatoes until the garlic turned crackly (“It’d make a great bar snack,” she says). I roasted mine and mixed it into risotto, which I served with a salad consisting of all the greens I had picked yesterday—about a toddler’s handful. I’ll head back to the park in a couple of weeks when the berries ripen. Hopefully I’ll have enough for a single-serving tart.