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Using nature's kitchen in yours – September’s best-foraged food recipes

Nature is a wonderful thing, and when lockdown rules eased, getting back outside again offered all we needed to fine-tune our bodies, minds and souls after those long months of isolation. As lockdown measures continue to soften across most parts of the UK, individuals are embracing the new normal with a greater appreciation for the natural things in life.

We recently discussed the joys of foraging and how this perfect pastime is giving us new inspiration for free, family-friendly days out as well as gifting us with more ideas to use in the kitchen. The summer months offer a bounty of delicious wild foods to forage and experiment with, but with August behind us, September reveals new, all-natural edibles to discover.

Blackberries, elderberries, rowan berries, hawthorn berries, rosehip, chanterelles, inkcaps, chicken of the woods, hops, crab apples, cobnuts, beechnuts and hazelnuts are just some of the exciting finds that are ready for picking come September, and we’ve got the best recipes to put a few of these wild ingredients to great use!

Hazelnuts for dinner

Hazelnuts are at their very best during September. Whilst numerous sweet treats can be created with a handful of wild hazelnuts, this hearty main is an easy, vegetarian, delicious and utterly indulgent recipe to try. Introducing our roasted cauliflower and hazelnut carbonara…

Ingredients

  • 1 cauliflower – large and cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch thyme – leaves only
  • 100g wild hazelnuts – chopped roughly
  • 350g penne
  • 100g vegetarian parmesan – grated
  • 2 eggs – beaten
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • 1 bunch parsley – chopped

Directions

  1. Start by preheating the oven to 200°C (fan 180°C/gas 6). Toss the small florets of cauliflower that you prepared earlier with the olive oil and thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Add the mixture to a large baking tray and roast for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Once soft and caramelised, sprinkle your roughly chopped wild hazelnuts over the top. Return to the oven for a further 5 minutes to achieve a light toast.
  3. Whilst your hazelnuts are roasting, start cooking your penne pasta (or a pasta of your choice), drain and reserve the water before returning the pasta to the pan.
  4. Add the cauliflower and hazelnut mixture to the pasta, stirring in the vegetarian parmesan, egg, double cream, parsley and 1 tablespoon of the pasta cooking water. The heat from the cooked pasta will cook the egg to create a delicious sauce. You may want to add more cooking water to get the consistency you’d like. All that’s left to do is serve and enjoy!

Rosehip for dessert

The summer sun may be fading a little faster these days but there’s always room for ice cream, especially this strawberry and rosehip variety. If your foraging mission has gone well you could even use wild strawberries and wild rosehip to create this delectable and surprisingly easy to prepare dessert.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk – whole
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • ¼ cup dried rosehips – here’s a handy guide for drying rosehips
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups of strawberries – fresh, frozen or wild
  • 1½ cups Greek yoghurt – preferably plain
  • ½ cup granola

Directions

  1. Simmer the milk and honey in a small saucepan, whisking the honey until fully dissolved. Be careful not to boil the milk.
  2. Throw in the rosehips and vanilla extract, remove from the heat, cover and steep for 15 to 20 minutes. Once steeped, strain the mixture and add to a blender.
  3. Blend with 2 cups of the strawberries until completely smooth, add the Greek yoghurt and blitz once more. Add the final cup of strawberries and pulse until just small pieces of strawberry remain. Put this mixture into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for one hour.
  4. Next put the chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. About 1 minute before the churn is due to end, add the granola.
  5. Pour the mixture into a container and place into the freezer for 3 to 4 hours. Those wanting a softer scoop can enjoy after 2 to 3 hours in the freezer. Don’t want to wait? A semi-frozen mixture makes a great and super tasty frozen yoghurt!

Hawthorn berries to drink

Making your own alcohol has to be the epitome of self-sufficiency, and homemade alcohol recipes don’t get more interesting than this!

Hawthorn Berry Schnapps is a distilled brandy drink with a healthy twist. Hawthorn berries are rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B17 and C, and certain to become your favourite wild edible. Just follow this simple recipe…

Please note: the quantities used in this recipe vary depending on the size of jar or bottle you intend to steep your mixture in.

Ingredients

  • A bottle of brandy
  • Hawthorn berries
  • A pinch of sugar

Directions

  1. Fill a jar or bottle with berries until it is two-thirds full, add a pinch of sugar then fill the bottle with brandy.
  2. Cover the jar or bottle and leave the mixture to steep for at least two weeks.
  3. Once steeped to your desired taste and alcohol strength, strain the mixture to remove the berries and decant the liquid into a separate bottle. The resulting liquid should be a dark red colour if your hawthorn berries were picked when soft in September or orange-coloured if picked when more mature later in the season.
  4. If you’re not a big alcohol drinker, you can also use this recipe to brew a medicinal tincture. Just leave out the sugar and enjoy in drops rather than as an autumnal cocktail!
Fond of foraging and been busy using nature’s kitchen in yours this month? Share your foraged finds and dishes with me and your fellow Goodness followers by posting them to Facebook or Instagram. Don’t forget to tag me in @webofgoodness.
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