11/11/2013 08:30 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Californian Ultra Foraging Adventure


In California they love their diets and one of the most popular is the ultra foraging diet where you can only eat what you find. So this got me thinking "I wonder if I can forage around my home-style chef friend's garden and the local neighborhood and come up with something ultra amazing, something even more ultra amazinger-sherzinger than my adventures with grass?"

So my pro home-style chef suggests we start with a map that tells us which stuff we can probably eat and what will most likely kill us:


Next, it's off around the garden to source our incredible local organic produce!



We also went round to other folks' houses to see what we could find and as you can see they were totally into it!


After a couple hours crawling and digging we amassed this spread of potentially amazing and not at all fatally poisonous fare:


Oyster plant (AKA salsify, a bit like parsnip), baby cucumber, strawberries, edible flowers, dandelion, oregano, purple basil, oranges, baby onions, clover.

Before we proceed I needed to taste all of these to see which are edible and which are, well, disgusting, as my home-style chef friend tells me that the warm weather can make things taste very bitter...and this quickly rules out the dandelion leaves which are unusually dis.gus.ting!

So, what am I going to do with all these stunning ingredients?

I reckon a simple summer salad with roasted oyster plant, balsamic reduced onions, edible plant, herbs, baby cucumber, all served with an orange juice and olive oil dressing!

I begin by pan frying the peeled baby onions in a pan with some balsamic vinegar


At the same time I place the peeled and chopped oyster plant into a roasting tray and cook at 450F for 15 minutes


Erm, as you can probably see, I deleted the original images of frying and roasting, so I've used some stand ins. I hope you don't mind such artistic license....

The final step was to delicately assemble my stunning summer salad. And here's the result!


And how's it taste?

Really quite special; there are so many different and very subtle flavours going on that each mouthful is unique, but it's probably the combo involving strawberry, roasted oyster plant and onion that works best. Even the home-style chef's kids loved it:


OK, I lost that image too, but trust me, the wee yins were super surprised any of this was edible annnnnd they really enjoyed our foraging adventure! Gordon Ramsey would be proud!

In summary then, a great day ultra foraging and definitely something you should give a go. Or maybe you have tried ultra foraging, in which case you could crawl over to our amazing Facebook page and tell us about it!

or my blog