I love travelling in the country and always, I look for wild produce wherever I am.
This time, while in Eyre Peninsula I found wild rocket. So strong tasting and spicy and very different from garden rocket.
I made the most of it. When one is camping, fresh produce, especially foraged produce is a highlight.
I first found it on a walk in Port Lincoln and as we drove inland there were fields of it, little dark green bushes in the landscape. Amazing!
Wild rocket is not always available to buy, but rocket is. I hesitate to call the leaves that you buy as sweet rocket, because that can taste quite peppery to some palates. Those of you who grow rocket know that once you have it, it can be unmanageable, but the leaves can be used in cooking and you too can make the most of it. You probably already do!
Here are some simple ways I enjoyed the wild rocket. I jazzed up some iceberg lettuce that in some places in the country was the only lettuce available. The contrasts between sweet and peppery worked very well. On another occasion I added feta.
I always take feta that I marinade in extra virgin olive oil with me on camping trips. I also add dried oregano, fresh bay leaves, anise or fennel seeds and pepper corns .
I had some kale and pumpkin. Both keep well on camping trips and I cooked them with some rocket.
Easy stuff. I always braise or sauté vegetables rather than steaming them. Italians tend to steam vegetables when they are feeling poorly so braising is the way to go.
I also found a few mustard greens that I added to the concoction. Whenever I sauté greens I like to use at least a couple of varieties of greens, indivia/ endives or cicoria/ chicory add bitterness, and kale / cavolo nero add mustard tastes to sweeter tasting greens like spinach/ silverbeet/ beetroot leaves. Contrasting tastes do wonders! I use extra virgin olive oil, garlic and sometimes chillies.
I sautéed the pumpkin with harissa , also a staple I make to take with me on camping trips. The version I take has dried chilli flakes, caraway seeds, salt and extra virgin olive oil. I soak the chillies and caraway seeds in some hot water till they swell and then add salt and oil to preserve the harissa. It is fine out of the fridge and suitable for camping as long as you add enough salt and keep on topping up the oil. I do not add garlic in this version or fresh chillies because the fresh ingredients encourage the growth of mold.
Back to the recipe. Once the pumpkin and harissa and some garlic is sautéed in extra virgin olive oil add the greens. Sauté, put a lid on and let soften. Done.
I also found field mushrooms around the Southern Flinders Rangers! Amazing at this time of year, but the weather was wet.
The soil was wet and given a little spring sunshine, there they were! I added garlic and wild rocket to them and sautéed them in some oil, then added a splash of white wine and evaporated some of the moisture. Pretty good!
I poached some eggs in these mushrooms. The farm fresh eggs were free range and they came on the way to Venus Bay/ Ceduna. They were free range, I checked! Mind you I did have some Kangaroo Island eggs already in the van and they were cheaper in SA than in VIC.
I also added wild rocket to a Minestra/ Wet Pasta dish made with borlotti beans. I usually cook borlotti beans at home, freeze them and take them with me, but tins of course are OK and for some, more convenient. The kookaburra above was never far away.
Once again, easy stuff. Sauté some onion and garlic in oil, add finely cut rocket, wilt it, add the beans with some of their water. Cook the pasta. Drain it. Add it to the semi liquid beans concoction …and there you have it. I always drizzle some of my best extra virgin oil on top. The rocket does reduce in mass when cooked, but this was also the last of the rocket. I would have used more if I had it.
Talking about the wild, a highlight was seeing a baby owl/ owlet in country Victoria.
HARISSA (A hot chilli condiment)
Harissa made with fresh Chillies
SENAPE, a new type of mustard green vegetable