|Sautéing native greens (Southern Island mallow; Lavatera assurgentiflora)|
Several California native plants provide tasty greens. Some are best eaten uncooked in salads, on tacos or sandwiches or as a substitute for lettuce in other dishes. Other greens are a bit too strong without cooking or other preparation. For a complete discussion of native greens see: http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2013/02/california-gourmet-native-plants-for.html
A nice way to use the early spring greens is in cooked or baked main dishes, where their bright colors and interesting flavors turn ordinary recipes into something special. One of our favorites is Quiche Lorraine with California Native Greens. It goes well with a salad of Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata).
You can use any of the edible leafy native greens for this recipe (for a list of edible native greens see: http://www.slideshare.net/cvadheim/gourmet-greenslist) After you’ve tasted the various greens you’ll discover your favorites. For this recipe we favor the mild-flavored leaves of Southern Island Mallow (Lavatera assurgentiflora ssp. glabra), although Atriplex, Camissonia or Mimulus would also work well. The young leaves of Southern Island mallow can be used throughout the year – another plus. We like to include a little bit of Black Sage (Salvia mellifera), Munz’ Sage (Salvia munzii) or Purple Sage (Salvia leucophylla) to add more California flavor.
Quiche Lorraine with California Native Greens
Baked 9 inch pie shell (store bought or home-made; not a sweet crust)
Cooked meat (optional) (6 slices bacon; or ½ cup cooked, finely diced ham, poultry)
3 green onions, thinly sliced (tops of native Allium haematochiton would also work)
2 cups grated cheese (traditionally Swiss cheese; but your choice)
1 can (13 oz) evaporated milk
¼ tsp salt (optional)
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup water
2 small leaves of native Salvia, diced finely
1 cup (packed) native greens
4 eggs, beaten
Prepare the baked pie shell. Let cool. Remove tough stems (if any) from greens. Wash Salvia and native greens; dice Salvia finely. Press native greens into a ball to make them easier to cut. Slice the greens into thin strips. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add sliced greens and salvia; cook, stirring often, until greens are wilted. Add water, cover, and sauté on low heat until tender (3-4 minutes); uncover and let water evaporate. Crumble bacon (if used) and spread cooked meat, onions, grated cheese and greens evenly in the pie shell. If desired, retain one Tbsp. of the onions and bacon for a topping. In a pan or in the microwave heat milk to boiling; remove from heat. Beat the eggs; mix in salt and nutmeg. Gradually pour hot milk into the egg mixture, stirring to mix. Carefully pour mixture into pie shell; sprinkle with topping. Bake at 325° F for 30-45 minutes, or until knife inserted into center comes out clean. Let stand several minutes before cutting. Serve hot. Delish!
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