Spring tasty salad in northern east Italy

Discussion in 'Herbs for the Kitchen' started by mariadf, Mar 21, 2020.

  1. mariadf

    mariadf New Member

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    Tasty salad

    In spring we can prepare a rich and tasty salad with leaves of 1-lamb’s lettuce, 2-garlic mustard ,3- common dandelion, 4-common mallow, 5-plantain, 6-flatweed , 7-wild lettuce,8-beaked hawk’s beard ,9- goat’s beard,10-borage,11- shepherd’s purse, 12-burdock , 13-rampion bellflower,14- peppermint , and flowers of 15-daisy , 16-Judas’s tree,17- common sowthistle,18- common chicory, and 19-some raw seed of pea. As a condiment we shall use oil, salt, and vinegar. The taste of vinegar, rather than deriving from the fermentation of grapes and thus being alcoholic, can be obtained by adding to the salad leaves of 20-garden sorrel and/or of 21- sorrel.
    1- Valerianella locusta (L.) Laterr. Lamb’s lettuce. Its genus’ name means “small Valeriana”, with reference to genus Valeriana. Valeriana derives from the Latin verb valere that means “to be strong” because of its many medicinal properties . The term locusta refers to the grasshopper and is probably due to the fact that these plants are often eaten by grasshoppers. Both the common name of the species, lamb’s lettuce, and the scientific name Valerianella, in which the suffix -ella transforms Valeriana into its a diminutive, probably refers to the unassuming, “humble” appearance of the plant. It is possible to buy it at most supermarkets, cultivate it in the Farm according to the methods of organic farming and find it, spontaneously grown in the fields of the Farm. Together with the three kinds of Valerianella we have the opportunity to point out the different sizes of the leaves: from the largest, those bought at the traditional supermarket, to the smallest, the ones which grow spontaneously. Inversely proportional to the leaf’s size is the intensity of its color and taste. We envisage that the plant which grows with difficulties, having to fight to survive, would emphasize its own characteristics, which, for use in cooking, is tantamount to concentrating taste as well as nutritional powers. This plant is suitable to season omelettes and soups. It has depurative properties. .
    2-Alliaria petiolata (M. Bieb.) Cavara & Grande. Garlic mustard. Alliaria derives from allium, a Latin term describing garlic, because of the plant’s smell which is similar to that of garlic, while petiolata derives from the Latin word “petioles” referring to the leaves with long petioles. (16, page 582) . Its flowers and leaves have the flavor of garlic but not so strong, are great to use in salads and to season butter and soft cheeses. With its seeds it is possible to prepare a sauce resembling mustard. This plant has curative properties against wounds, and expectorating, diuretic properties. .
    3-Taraxacum officinale (L.) Weber ex F.H.Wigg. Common dandelion. The word Taraxacum probably derives from a Perso-Arabic word talkh chakok meaning “bitter grass”, but some others think that it derives from the Greek word tarasso which means “to agitate”; thus the name means “”the herb that can heal you from agitations”..The Latin term officinale indicates that the plant is used as a medicinal plant. In Latin the word officinal means “laboratory”. With the flower buds, put in brine, it would be possible to deceive a Sicilian, passing them as capers and, with the syrup made with its flowers, bewilder a beekeeper, making him believe that it is dandelion honey. Its raw leaves enrich salads and sautéed are a great cooked vegetable. From its toasted roots, a good coffee substitute can be obtained. It has depurative and detoxifying properties and contains a lot of vitamin C.
    4- Malva sylvestris L. Common mallow. Malva comes from the Greek malakhe, meaning “emollient, benevolent”, with reference to the plant’s properties, while sylvestris indicates that it is a plant growing in the woods (sylva in Latin means “wood”), that is, in uncultivated places. Its leaves, flowers, and buds are great for salads, soups, omelettes, and risotto. Additionally, its buds in brine and its flowers battered and fried, are delicacies. This plant features emollient, laxative, and anti-inflammatory properties.
    5-Plantago lanceolata L. and Plantago major L. Ribwort plantain and Greater plantain. The name plantain seems to derive from the fact that some species possess leaves resembling the sole of the foot, in Latin plantago. Lanceolata means “spear-shaped”, with reference to the long and narrow leaves, while major in Latin means “greater”, since this species is bigger in size than many other species of its genus. In modern Greek it is called pentanevra, referring to the five ribs that are clearly distinguishable in the leaves. Raw leaves are excellent in salads while cooked ones have a taste resembling that of artichokes. The juice of the leaves soothes the ailment caused by insects’ stings, and grated roots are a remedy against toothache. Like Parietaria officinalis L. it is used to make a green dye. It is astringent, has diuretic properties, is an ophthalmic remedy, and contains vitamins A and C.
    6-Hypochaeris radicata L. Flatweed. Its name could derive from the Greek hypos, which means “under” and choeros, that is “pig”, with reference to the fact that pigs are greedy for its leaves, while radicata means “well rooted in the soil”, the Latin word radix means “root”, with reference to its extensive root system.

    7-Lactuca serriola L. Wild lettuce. Lactuca derives from the abundance of latex, the Latin word lactis, means “milk”, while scariola indicates an ancient popular term used to refer to the plant, deriving in turn from a Latin word indicating the saw, due to its finely saw-toothed leaves. A relaxing sedative is obtained from latex . 8-Crepis vesicaria L. Beaked hawk’s beard. Derives from the Greek crepis and indicates “shoes or sandals” because of the shape of its leaves, and vesicaria indicates the higher bracts of the buds, similar to a bladder, and bladder is vesica in Latin. It has detoxifying, diuretic, and hypoglycemic properties.
    9-Tragopogon porrifolius L. and Tragopogon pratensis L. Goat’s beard derives from the Greek tragos, “big goat” and pogon, “beard” with reference to its seeds that have hairs on the top, resembling a goat’s beard. Porrifolius means “having the leaves of a leek” referring to the narrow and long leaves, while pratensis means “growing in meadows”, clearly connected to the species’ habitat. Young buds can be eaten with boiled eggs like asparagus, while dried roots, pulverized into flour are used to prepare bread and sweets.
    10-Borago officinalis L. Borage. The name could derive from Latin borra, rough wool fabric, evidently linked to the rough feel of the plant. The term officinalis means “used in laboratory”, in Latin laboratory is officina, because it is used as a medicinal plant. We use only small leaves in salads due to the fuzz that, when the leaves grow bigger, becomes annoying. Leaves can also be dried to be used during the winter time and are excellent battered and fried, as a filling for ravioli, for risotto, and cooked like spinach. Its beautiful blue flowers, tasting like cucumbers, can season salads or can be used in a Greek tzatziki as a cucumber substitute, since they accurately reproduce its flavor and are more easily digestible. They have anti-inflammatory and depurative properties.
    11-Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medik. (Shepherd’s purse. Capsella in Latin means “little capsule”, bursa pastoris means “shepherd’s purse” due to its heart-like shape, typical of shepherds purses. Its leaves are great for omelettes. Unripe fruits are spicy and can be used as a substitute for pepper. The green parts of the plant are hemostatic. The roots too are edible.
    12-Arctium lappa L. Burdock. Derives from the Greek term arctos, indicating the bear, perhaps referring to the prickly appearance of the plant, while lappa could derive from the Greek term labein, to hang to, because the fruits of this plant hang to clothes and for this reason are often used by children to play. Velcro was invented by a Swiss scientist who copied the weft of the fruits of these plants. Every year, on the second Friday of August in the royal village of Queensferry in Edinburgh, Scotland, the Burry Man, a man covered by burdock flower-fruits, tours the city knocking at the doors to receive gifts to fulfill a fertility rite. I would like, in the farm, to dedicate a day to burdock, in which guests are invited to create and present artwork produced with the plants’ fruits. Raw leaves are used in salads when they are small, while roots and stalks are consumed boiled. The plant is commonly used in cosmetics and as a natural remedy against dermatitis.
    13-Campanula rapunculus L. Rampion bellflower. The Latin term Campanula means “little bell”, referring to its bell-shaped flowers; rapunculus means “little turnip”, referring to its swollen root. It is a precious species protected in the Euganean Hills area. Its price is comparable with that of truffles.
    14-Mentha x piperita L. Peppermint. The genus name is very old and derives from the Greek míntha. Piperita means “with the scent of pepper“ because of the strong smell and sting of this plant. Pepper in Latin is “piper”. The symbol “x” after the name of the genus, means that we are speaking of a hybrid. According to a legend, the name derives from the nymph Minthe, a Naiad or water nymph, who lived in the realm of Hades, of whom she was the lover. When Hades decided to marry Persephone, the abandoned and desperate nymph threatened her rival but didn’t have the time to carry out those threats. Persephone dismembered her, Hades transformed her into a perfumed plant. Mint, which is nicknamed edyosmos, that means “aromatic”, referring to its scent, was used in ancient Greece in burial rituals, along with rosemary and myrtle myrtle, to mask the odor of the decomposing body. In the past the plant was used as a repellent against fleas and other insects. It was also used to disinfect water. Mint t myrtlewig remains have also been found in an Egyptian tomb.
    15-Bellis perennis L. Daisy. Its etymology is controversial. Some maintain that bellis derives from Latin bellus, which means “beautiful”, others from bellum, meaning “war”, referring to its presumed ability to heal wounds, while perennis indicates that the plant is perennial. Flowers are used in salads and to add a special flavor to potato soups. An infusion of its flowers and leaves is used as a natural pesticide and to treat hypertension or as an astringent and diaphoretic. An infusion of the leaves is useful as a mild sedative, laxative, and to soothe a cough.
    16-Cercis siliquastrum L. Judas’ tree. Derives from the Greek word kerkis, “small boat” or “spool”, and from Latin siliqua, “pod”, both referring to the shape of the fruit, which is similar to that of a small boat. Carob is called siliqua, siliquastrum is a pejorative term indicating false carob. The legend says that Judas hanged himself at this tree. In fact, the tree is very common in Palestine.
    17-Sonchus oleraceus (L.)L. Common sow-thistle. The name sonchus derives from the Greek soncos which means “soft” referring to the soft stem, while oleraceus means “related to herbs”.
    18-Cichorium intybus L. Common chicory. The name cichorium derives from the Greek kikhoria, composed by kikheo, “I found” and oros that means “mountain” probably because this plant is common on Greek mountains. The name intybus derives from the Greek word entubon, which was the name used to indicate “the salad”.

    19-Pisum sativum L. Pea. The word pisum is a Latin term indicating the pea, while sativum means “edible”. In Lebanon I learned to appreciate raw peas. In Arabic pea is basell, in Turkish bezely, in modern Greek pizeli, in Sicilian pisidduzzi, and in Venetian dialect bisi, therefore in the whole Mediterranean this vegetable “doesn’t know borders”. It is interesting to observe that in many languages of the Mediterranean basin ( for example Arabic, Turkish, Greek, and the Veneto and Sicilian dialects) the “p” and “b” sounds get mixed up. For example the terms indicating “pea”, although deriving from the same root, in some languages are pronounced with an initial “p”, in others with an initial “b ”. This is probably a consequent of phonetic mutation in linguistics due to the fact that” p” and “b” are both labial letters. In addition to its food utilization, in Ancient Egypt it was used to heal stomach ailments, mixing peas with beer. Peas are very frequently used in the Veneto region cooking, under the dialect name of bisi (the same” p“ in Italian and “b” in Venetian dialect!). A very well-known dish employing this vegetable is risi e bisi, rice with peas, prepared by cooking separately rice, then draining it, and adding a sauce of peas. Even the Doge ate risi e bisi on the Ascension Day and on 25 April St. Mark's day Patron Saint of the city. Risi e bisi was the celebratory dish of spring.

    Vinegar:
    20-Rumex acetosa L. Garden sorrel. From Latin rumex, meaning “beam” or “spear”, referring to the pointed leaves of many of its species. The term acetosa means “having acid taste”, with reference to the taste of the leaves. The leaves are used raw in salads or cooked in soups and omelettes. Children suck its stalk to quench their thirst. It has diuretic, refreshing, anti-inflammatory properties.
    21-Oxalis acetosella L. Sorrel. From the Greek oxys, “sharp”, “stinging”, and hals, “salt”, due to the presence of oxalic acid, while acetosella is a diminutive of the previous acetosa, indicating that the plant has acid taste and is small. Some tender leaves are used in place of vinegar in salads, making them refreshing. The leaves are also used in fruit salads and in sweets. It is even possible to prepare a drink that tastes likes lemonade. The water in which the plant has been boiled is used to whiten fabric or rusted metal objects. It has depurative, diuretic, and refreshing properties. In the farm we have used it also for an experiment: we used it to calibrate an all-natural litmus paper. We have used a white linen cloth and have colored it with the juice of a purple cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. cultivar capitata). We poured over it some lemon drops, obviously acid, and verified that the linen’s color became pink, then we added some bicarbonate, a base, and the color turned green. The same purple cabbage-colored linen became pink when put in contact with the juice of oxalis and then green with the more common oat grass blades
     

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