Although by now the wild mushroom harvest is in full swing, hogweed makes a delicious starter for a fungal omelette, steamed and served with lashings of melted butter…
Hogweed is so common it barely attracts a second glance from most people. Sometimes called cow parsnip, it grows in huge large-leafed clumps across the country, producing its characteristic white headed large bouquets of white flowers from July.
Familiarity breeds contempt and few people today have tried this substantial weed which is a tragedy for it is one of our great hedgerow delicacies – and all the better for being so common. As Roger Phillips says in Wild Foods: “Those who despise this common plant will no longer do so when they sample its succulence . . . this is unequivocally one of the best vegetables I have eaten.”
He recommends quickly steaming young shoots and serving these with melted butter, black pepper and a hint of sea salt – in much the same manner as the freshest of Evesham asparagus spears. Alternatively try it with a Bearnaise sauce of lemon-tinted melted butter thickened with egg yolks.
Some care should be taken when harvesting, however. Both hogweed and its closely-related ‘giant’ version have saps which contain skin irritants when raw, so wear gloves when cutting and it is best to avoid the latter completely.