Eating Weeds: A Foraged Lunch in Tuscany
We forage, picking through the wildflowers. Lunch is delicious.

stinging nettles fritata
Stinging Nettles Fritata

It was a gloriously sunny morning when we walked into the olive grove on the edge of Montestigliano. Our eyes fell upon a the riot of color a bumper year for wildflowers brings to these parts.

tuscan wildflowers picture
Tuscan Wildflowers

We the uninitiated were seeing yet another pleasant side of Tuscany. Marta, our guide, was seeing food.

Marta’s father, a “cowboy” from the Maremma they call a buttero, collected herbs and mushrooms while he worked, and her grandmother taught her how to cook them. But these helpful folks get only minor billing, according to Marta.

“Mother Nature is the real teacher,” she admitted.

marta picture
Marta picks lunch.

We strolled through the thick undergrowth behind Marta as she pointed out the edibles in the biomass that we hadn’t clumsily trampled over. Chickweed, poppy leaves, daisies, dandelions, chicory, crepis, wild onion, spring garlic, wild sage, ciccerbitta, and even malva jumped out at her. “Malva” means “bad, go away” in Italian, but fake-named plants can’t fool Marta, who encouraged us to eat the small, tender leaves and flowers.

There was also a good sized clump of stinging nettles. Ortica in Italian, which I like very much. To eat I mean. I’ve worked around nettles a lot, but Marta told me something I didn’t know about them—the sting only comes from the upper, or sun side, of the leaves. You can touch the back of the leaves with impunity—or even with your fingers—and you won’t feel the sting.

weed salad
Weed Salad is served!

When it came time to prepare our haul for lunch, Marta combined the nettles with eggs from the chickens raised at home and made it into the delicious concoction you see on top of the page, a nettle frittata. Other “weed” leaves were sauteed and got stuffed inside simple pastry, and still others, along with flowers, became a salad.

Add a little pasta to the mix flavored with our found herbs and we sat down to another abundant Italian meal.

Marta’s guidance in gathering herbs and cooking with them was part of an experiential travel tour developed by the collaboration of Sharon and Walter of Simple Italy and Luisa and friends at the Agriturismo Montestigliano.

More Articles about Tuscany

Feasting at the Officina della Bistecca

Sleepy Valleys of Italy

Osteria di Poneta, Montecatini Terme

A Friendly Farmacia in Firenze

Florence: Exotic Scents for Discerning Tourists

Florence and the Selfie Generation


Eating Weeds: A Foraged Lunch in Tuscany originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com , updated: Aug 10, 2019 © .

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