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Wild Greens and Herbs

nettle soup recipe

Most people know me as a meat and fish guy, but I love working with greens and herby things every bit as much — especially in springtime. What follows are my favorite recipes for greens like nettles, wild green onions, wild mustards, etc. Not all are vegetarian, but all can be made so easily.

And while I am at it, here’s my go-to method for cooking greens:

  • Wash and chop.
  • Saute in olive oil (or bacon fat) with salt, garlic, chile and maybe a little broth or wine.
  • Cook over high heat and toss around until the greens are wilted by still vivid. Serve at once.

Use that basic recipe for dandelions, wild lettuces and chicories, amaranth, lamb’s quarters, pigweed, New Zealand spinach, sea rocket, orache and basically any other edible leafy green you find in the wild.


Photo by Hank Shaw

How to Harvest Wild Onions

How to responsibly harvest wild onions of any type — ramps, etc — and how to clean and store them.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Foraging for Wild Greens: Dandelions, Wild Lettuces, Chicories

How to identify, harvest and eat some of our most common edible “weeds,” including dandelion greens, chicory, wild lettuce and their cousins.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Wild Herbs: Monardella Mints

If you live in the West, you can find yourself some truly wonderful wild mints. These are the monardellas, the coyote mints and mountain pennyroyals. Here’s how to find, store and use them.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Foraging for Fennel Seeds

Harvesting fennel seeds isn’t hard, but there are a few tips to it. Here they are.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Foraging for Curly Dock

How to identify and cook with curly dock or Western dock, common weeds that are like tangy spinach.


Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Wild Rapini with Orecchiette and Garlic

Wild mustard flower buds, tossed with pasta, garlic and a little salami.

Borage and Ricotta Ravioli

A traditional ravioli from Liguria, in the northwest of Italy. Borage tastes a little like cucumbers, and it’s a great match with ricotta cheese.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Nettle Ravioli

Another classic Italian pasta, this one is from the northeast of Italy. It uses the nettle pasta in the next recipe.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Nettle Pasta

This is strettine, a nettle linguine from Emilia Romagna. The vivid green is pretty cool.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Ramp Pasta with Morels

Yes, you can make pasta with the green leaves of ramps or other wild onions. Served with a simple saute of morels with a little broth and you are good to go. A plate of springtime!

Other Starchy Dishes

Photo by Hank Shaw

Italian Spinach Dumplings

A Northern Italian dumpling of bread and green things, spinach or wild greens. Easy to make, tasty — and thrifty. Serve with fresh garlic and good butter.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Chinese Scallion Pancakes

Chinese savory flatbreads that are an addicting snack. Make more than you think you can eat. They are made of awesome.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Wild Greens Colcannon

Colannon is an Irish mix of mashed potatoes with green things. In this case, cow parsnip. Any greens work, though.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Ricotta-Herb Gnocchi with Carrot Broth

Soft, pillowy gnocchi made with ricotta and cow parsnip leaves (you can use any green herb), served with an elegant-yet-easy carrot broth.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Nettle Risotto

One of my all-time favorite things to make with nettles. So green!
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Spring Ramp Risotto

A fresh, light rice dish made with spring greens and wild onions.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser


Also known as dolmades, these are stuffed grape leaves or mallow leaves filled with rice and herbs


Photo by Hank Shaw

Ramp Pesto

Ramp pesto with pine nuts, walnuts or pecans, a little garlic and parmesan or pecorino cheese.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Nettle Pesto

Nettle pesto, made in the classic way with pine nuts and garlic.

Ramp and Parsley Pesto (hosted on Simply Recipes)

Other Dishes

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Wild Mint Leaf Ice Cream

A wild mint ice cream made by steeping fresh mint leaves in cream overnight, giving the ice cream a fuller, more herby mint flavor you can’t get with extract.

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Scandinavian Nettle Soup with Fish

This is nasselsoppa, a traditional Scandinavian soup of nettles and fish. My version is just about the greenest thing you’ve ever seen.

Borage Soup

Another green soup with the cooling flavor of borage. Other greens work, too.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Pickled Mustard Greens

I make these every year when our wild mustard greens come ready. It’s a little like kimchi meets sauerkraut, and it’s a common ingredient in Chinese cooking – also good on a bun with sausage.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Sweet and Sour Ramps

Ramps, sauteed and tossed in a sweet, vinegary sauce.

More Veggie Recipes

One response to “Wild Greens and Herbs”

  1. Cooking on the Wild Side: Bruny Stinging Nettles. « brunyfirepower

    […] the whole thing by taste! (nb: check out Californian Hank Shaw’s site Hunter, Angler, Gardner, Cook). The above pic is from his site where he has a number of other good nettle recipes.This pesto was […]

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