Burek with lentils and wild herbs

As nature begins to wake up again and plants begin to thrive and grow, we find the best time of the year for collecting wild edible plants! Young shoots are often soft and succulent, with tastes that have not yet matured to bitterness and impressive nutritional content. One famous example is wild-harvested asparagus, which we have already written about. Last week, we harvested and used dandelion in our cooking. This time, we harvested hop shoots, stinging nettle leaves, and garlic mustard. We also used some dandelion and daisy flowers. Nature offers us a great array of tasty and nutritious plants, but beware, many plants have toxic lookalikes. Never harvest a plant to be used for food unless you are 100% certain of its identity; it is always better to go on the cautious side.

Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) has stinging needles on its leaves and stems. These needles are firm enough to stick into our skin and then break off, injecting us with histamine, causing inflammation and itchiness. That being said, these needles lose their rigidity when cooked, steamed, baked, or even if allowed to wilt a bit, making them completely harmless to ingest. Still, anyone with sensitive skin should wear gloves when collecting this plant to avoid an adverse reaction. 

Hops (Humulus lupulus) are mainly known for their flowers, which are an important ingredient in the making of beer. Most people do not know, however, that this plant is actually a pretty common one in nature! To make things even better, the young spring shoots are very tasty. Now, a cool fact about hops: when the vines twine in their climbing, they rotate clockwise, which is the opposite of how most vines twine. Save that one for the next time you’re at a quiz night with friends!

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is here just to confuse us all. Is it garlic or is it mustard? Though its scent is similar to garlic, it is actually a member of the same family of plants as mustard, the Brassicaceae. 

In thinking of what to do with our collection of plants, we first thought of a cream sauce that would normally be made with spinach. However, we at Hungry Pumpkin prefer to make more unusual dishes, so we settled on making burek, an Ottoman sort of savoury pastry that has been widely popularised throughout the Balkan Peninsula. To fill out the pastry, we also chose to use red lentils.


Recipe, preparation, and cost

 

Quantity

(g ali ml)

Price for 4 person (EUR)

Main dish

Lentils

110

0,64

Onion

120

0,13

Wild herbs

150

0,00

Garlic

20

0,08

Pastry

200

0,88

Olive oil

60

0,30

Salt

4

0,00

Salad

Radicchio

200

0,40

Beans

160

0,96

Pumpkin seed oil

8

0,04

Salt

4

0,00

Together

3,43

 

 

We began by cooking our red lentils for 10 minutes in salted water. Meanwhile, onion, garlic, and the wild herbs were chopped up and cooked in oil. We then mixed our lentils and vegetables together and spread it out on the phyllo pastry that we bought from the store. We drizzled on some oil and rolled it up into a tube about 4 cm in diameter. We then greased a baking pan and spiraled this roll from the outer edge to the center. We then brushed oil on top of the burek and baked it for half an hour in the oven, with oil being reapplied once more during the baking. 

The price for our 4-person lunch came out to 3.43€. Collecting the herbs ourselves helped lower the price. If we were to buy the same amount of material from the store (let’s say spinach, for example), it would have cost 1.50€ more. That being said, we did pay for the dough, which cost about 4 times as much as the same amount of flour and other ingredients would have, but it certainly saved us a lot of time. 


Nutritional value

With lunch consumed quantity

% From daily needs

Energy

499,28

kcal

25,00

Proteins

17,45

g

31,20

Total fats

19,76

g

44,90

Carbohydrates

63,65

g

 

Starch

46,37

g

 

Sugar

2,51

g

 

Fibers

11,75

g

47,00

Calcium (Ca)

249,20

mg

24,90

Iron (Fe)

5,49

mg

54,90

Magnesium (Mg)

73,77

mg

18,40

Phosphorus (P)

235,35

mg

33,60

Potassium (K)

719,21

mg

36,00

Sodium (Na)

1033,20

mg

187,90

Zinc (Zn)

2,11

mg

21,00

Copper (Cu)

0,57

mg

63,10

Manganese (Mn)

1,32

mg

57,30

Selenium (Se)

14,26

µg

28,50

Vitamin A

38,93

µg

3,90

Vitamin E

3,76

mg

25,10

Vitamin D

0,00

µg

0,00

Vitamin C

9,38

mg

9,40

Thiamin (B1)

0,64

mg

49,20

Riboflavin (B2)

0,34

mg

22,80

Niacin (B3)

3,36

mg

23,10

Pantothenic acid (B5)

1,05

mg

17,50

Vitamin B6

0,38

mg

25,60

Folic acid (B9)

272,83

µg

68,20

Vitamin B12

0,00

µg

0,00

Vitamin K

327,88

µg

468,40

 

As usual, we consumed 25% of our daily calorie requirements with this lunch. We managed to reach 31.2% of our daily protein requirements, 44.9% for fats, and 47% for fiber, mostly from the lentils our harvested plants, and the beans. We also did well for iron, getting almost 55% of our daily requirement thanks to the lentils, dough, and beans. Other minerals, such as zinc and magnesium, fell short of our 25% daily requirement goal but can be made up for in other meals. We also ingested fewer vitamins than usual with this meal. And though vitamins B12 and D are absent in unfortified vegan foods, we managed to get quite a bit of vitamin D while collecting our herbs!

If you have questions about today’s lunch (or ideas for future lunches) then feel free to write to us at info@hungry-pumpkin.com and we will get back to you!

Have a great weekend!

-The Hungry Pumpkin Team

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