Trash to Treasure: Kudzu
Eat Your Weeds… Just Not the Seeds!
The concepts of foraging for wild edibles and eating invasive species are popular for several reasons: we all like the idea of getting free goodies, being out and about in the woods helps us to connect with our environment and food, and it’s just plain fun! In this Trash to Treasure we learn how to capitalize off of these two philosophies.
That brings us to our featured ingredient. It’s a staple of our southern scenery. It’s often conundrum to tourists and any visitors to the south. Any ideas?
Kudzu. Yes you did just read KUDZU!
Kudzu is often viewed as a nemesis by homeowners, but many of us have appreciated that artificial grape-ish flavored Kudzu Blossom Jelly. In truth, the leaves, roots and blossoms all have culinary value. The roots are a large starch tuber…go into any Japanese grocery and you will find bags of it that can be used like cornstarch or arrow-root. The leaves are edible and can be cooked like greens—but just as with any green you want to eat, the younger they are, the better they are. Just avoid the seeds.
I have been aching for one of my friend’s family recipes for stuffed grape leaves cooked with lamb bones. The collagen added the by the bones takes away that acidic/briny flavor of the grape leaves. I am using this as an inspiration for this new southern delight (or maybe even tradition).
Next time you’re up at the TR Farmers Market, stop and see new vendor George Coundoussias and his Oreno Hellenic Ladi extra virgin olive oil. Pressed from late-picked olives in groves inherited from his father back in Greece, this farmer-direct imported oil is full-flavored and not too peppery, the perfect addition to that fresh tomato sandwich, or veggies right off the grill. www.orenoladi.com