My husband and I took a trip to Berlin, Germany last year to visit friends who stayed there for three months. My friend is a great cook and takes interest in local food, culinary experimentation, and quality for the price. That's probably why we're such close friends! It was she who told me about this unique herb or seasoning that she found. Bärlauch. (You can read some more of my German food stories in my article in the August 2016 issue -- when I was honored to be the cover girl - of Be Fabulous! magazine.)
I plugged that name into a German to English translator I found on the internet. Loosely meaning wild garlic, this herb has a distinct but yet subtle garlic smell and taste. I like this honest description of Bärlauch here in this blog post: What's that wacky German food?
What I actually purchased was this wild garlic (aka bear's leek) garlic in a freeze-dried form. (In German, this is what gefriergetrocknet means, as indicated on the label.) Perfect for hauling home and storing. I've happily sprinkled it on any savory dish or to make one taste so: eggs, grains, meats, and more. Yesterday, I added it to an easy-to-prepare quinoa pilaf. (See the recipe that follows.)
Upon further research and with what I know about the nutritional value of aromatics like garlic, onions, and chives, Bärlauch offers antioxidant strong properties -- as all edible leafy plants do. Even in the freeze-dried preparation, there will be minerals and vitamins. Some folks who cannot tolerate or have problems digesting garlic may want to consider using this herb as a replacement. One of my friends reported that she could consume this wild garlic (leaves) despite being very sensitive to garlic itself.
Note, in case you're foraging for your own in the backcountry of Germany and other European countries, Canada or the US, there have been reports of poisoning. They look very similar to poisonous plants like Lily of the Valley and other wild plants. So be careful!
There are a lot of really wonderful plants for you to discover. Some thoughts to get you motivated:
Local - what is native to your area? Ask the locals and your circles if you're not sure.
Preparation - do you prefer frozen, fresh, dried, or canned? Make sure you have the room to store.
Open/curious - are you willing to increase your food knowledge? You'll be adding to your food story #urfoodstory at the same time.
You don't have to love cooking to appreciate the choice and diversity of food we have. Let's learn together about food, and get smarter too! You can begin food conversations... and get people excited about what food is available, where it comes from, and how to enjoy.
I invite you to drop me a comment about what food you have discovered and how you enjoy it. Looking forward to hearing from you!
Bye for now.
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- ⅓ cup green onions, chopped
- ¾ cup fresh mushrooms, any variety, in small pieces
- 1 cup dry, rinsed organic quinoa
- 2¼ cups vegetable broth, divided
- 2 heaping tablespoons, freeze-dried, Bärlauch (or dried herb like basil or parsley)
- In a large pot, heat high-quality EVOO on low-medium.
- Add green onions and cook for about 5 minutes to soften and release flavor.
- Stir in mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes to release the moisture. Add ¼ cup of the vegetable broth and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Mix in the quinoa and toast somewhat for about 3 to 5 minutes, continually stirring.
- Add the rest of the vegetable broth, and continue to cook on low for about 15 minutes until almost all liquid has been absorbed.
- Off heat, add the Bärlauch and let the mixture rest for a few minutes before serving. The rest of the liquid should be absorbed.