Autumn Hiking Discoveries: Mushroom Hunting & More!
During a number of our hikes recently we have come across some beautiful, and delicious finds! Here are some of our favourite finds from this Autumn.
Last week during our retreat, we were fortunate enough to come across a real treat on one of our hikes: Lactarius Deliciosus! These mushrooms are also known as saffron milk caps or red pine mushrooms and are one of the best-known members of the large milk-cap genus. It is an autumn species mainly found in pine forests. It goes without saying that you must know your mushrooms before picking them, and certainly before ingesting them! We have a wonderful hiking guide (Archelaos) who is familiar with these mushrooms and was able to distinguish the good from the bad.
Cooking Lactarius Deliciousus
You must thoroughly clean mushrooms before cooking them.
We sliced our mushrooms and chose to sauté them and make a mushroom tartine.
Mushrooms Olive Oil Garlic Lime Soy Sauce Oregano Salt and Pepper Sourdough Bread Fresh Parsley
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir mushrooms, garlic, squeeze of lime, a drop of soy sauce, oregano, salt, and black pepper in the hot oil until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer until mushrooms are tender, 5 to 8 more minutes. Serve on some warm sourdough bread and sprinkle with fresh parsley.
Much to our surprise we managed to find some wild asparagus in more than one location during our hikes. Typically, these delicate stalks appear in late April. Wild asparagus are much finer, and more delicate than the asparagus spears we find in the supermarket. It can be eaten raw and has a strong and delicious flavour.
Wild asparagus is never cultivated, and therefore must be tracked down by dedicated foragers. The stalks are very long and must be cut into shorter pieces in order to fit into most pots and pans. Much like the asparagus we know it is only the tenderest part of the shoot that is eaten.
Traditionally in Greece wild asparagus are eaten with eggs. You can cook them and add them to scrambled eggs, or an omelette. I also like to make a little salad:
200 g Wild Asparagus
Pinch of Salt Black Pepper Olive Oil Balsamic Vinegar
Give the wild asparagus a thorough wash.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt. Add the asparagus to cook. Cook on medium for about 8-10 minutes, until the asparagus are cooked through. Drain and set aside to cool. At the same time boil your eggs. Peel eggs and slice them. Place asparagus in a bowl, sprinkle a pinch of salt on top and add oil and vinegar. Add sliced eggs and a bit of ground black pepper and mix well. Serve with some fresh sourdough bread.
Horta is a catch-all term for greens in Greece. Widespread varieties of horta in most parts of Greece include amaranth (vlita), dandelion (radiki), chicories (stamnagathi), sow thistle (achohi) and mustards, although each region will have its own particular varieties. Due to the Mediterranean climate, most of those will grow quite happily here as weeds. We came across some Dandelion, or radiki in Greek, during a number of our hikes.
2 Bunches of Dandelion Greens Enough water to completely immerse dandelions in Salt (to taste) High Quality Olive Oil (to taste) Lemons
In a large pot bring water to a boil. While waiting for water to boil, chop and clean dandelion greens. Clean thoroughly and add to pot of boiling water.
Bring water back up to a rolling boil and cook for about 8 minutes. Try to not overcook as some of the above nutrients may be lost due to overcooking. While many prefer the greens to become wilted for easier eating, it’s preferable to chop greens to desired mouth size pieces prior to cooking, and wilt minimally.
Drizzle with olive oil, lemon and salt to taste and enjoy!
Thyme and Savoury Thyme Thyme is one of the most important, and most prominent, herbs in the Greek countryside. The name (“Thymos” or “Thymari” in Greek) comes from the ancient Greek word “Thyo” meaning “sacrifice”. Ancient Greeks burned thyme on altars of ancient gods as an aromatic incense. There are about 215 thyme species in the world and 23 of them grow in Greek mountains. We often find both Thyme and “Savoury Thyme” on our hikes, both of which are used regularly in Greek cuisine.
Thyme can be used almost interchangeably with oregano, or even to complement oregano. Sprinkle it on meat, fish and poultry, add it to sauces, or salads. We also love to mix it with some olive oil and salt to make a great dip for bread.
Of course, we must be very cautious when picking wild foods. Make sure you can positively identify your produce, be careful that it hasn’t been sprayed or is growing in contaminated soil (such as roadside). If you are new to foraging, take an experienced person with you. It is always better to err on the side of caution. As fantastic as foraging for food can be it can also be dangerous! Let us know what you find and please share photos and recipes! 😊