I first learned a version of this recipe from an herbalist, nurse and Adirondack homesteader, the late Linda Runyon. A vegetarian at the time, she said she was getting tired of having to hike into town to get their supply of meat. One summer day, she decided not to make the trip. That’s when she got the idea to use Red Clover flowers in place of meatballs for their next dinner (her husband and son, both avid meat eaters, were none the wiser). When she set out dinner that night, there were a lot of ‘hmms’ and ‘yums’, though a few comments on how the ‘meatballs’ tasted a little different than usual. After that, Red Clover meatballs became a regular on the menu, with both her husband and son excitedly bringing home pockets of flowers whenever they found a patch!
- 1 cup Red Clover blossoms (fresh is best, but well rehydrated blossoms will also work)
- 2 cups wild greens (Lambs Quarters and Amaranth are common favorites, but you can also use non-wild Beet greens, Spinach, etc.)
- 1 cup Wild Onion, chopped finally (yellow Onions from the store will also work)
- 1/2 cup oil (I love fat, and prefer the animal kind, but Olive oil also works, and you can use less)
- 1/8-1/4 cup water (depending on how thick you want your sauce-less water = thicker sauce)
- 1 cup Tomato sauce
- Spices of your choice (I like Oregano, Beebalm, Basil, Pepper, or Peppergrass, and salt to taste)
- Mix the spices and fat, and coat your Red Clover blossoms
- Heat your pan until it sizzles when you drip water on it
- Pour several tablespoons of oil into the pan, then add the Onion (you might need to turn down your burner to keep the Onions from crisping too much)
- As soon as the Onion is lightly browned, add your Lamb’s Quarters/greens, Red Clover blossoms, and spices (you may need to add a little more oil at this point)
- Let the mixture cook until the greens and clover blossoms have softened, and are well saturated with oil
- Add the tomato sauce, and let simmer for 5 minutes
- Depending on how thick you want your sauce, you can add either 1/8 cup (thicker) or ¼ cup (thinner) water
- Let this all simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the flavors until the flavors are blended (I recommend tasting)
- Serve and enjoy!
To those who know me, there is a certain amount of irony of me putting out a recipe. I am very much a cook of the old-fashioned school, and when asked how I made a dish, my replies are all coached towards the senses: “a handful or so,” “just cook it until it tastes right,” and “oh, I guess I cooked it for about an hour.” I’ve done my best here to give you guidelines that will result in a tasty dish. But since cooking is one grand artful experiment, please feel free to modify this to your personal gustatory preferences!
A few notes:
As with all wild edible recipes, make sure the critters are out of your flowers before you cook them. I usually leave them out of a bag for about ½ a day, and that seems to give everyone time to crawl/fly/slither away.
If you are using dried blossoms instead of fresh, before you cook them rehydrate with a little oil and water (a few tablespoons of each should do the trick for one cup of blossoms).
Caution: Please remember blood thinners such as warfarin can have dreadful interactions with any sort of greenery. Red Clover counts as greenery and has been noted in preliminary studies to cause arteries of menopausal women to be more flexible as well as providing a mild and seemingly protective blood thinning affect. Because of this, Red Clover is contraindicated with pharmaceutical drugs that cause blood thinning and high profit margins.
Mark Your Calendars!
Kat Mackinnon and Briana Wills will be teaching a Wild Foods Foraging class at the farm in Paonia, CO, June 1-3. Follow the link above for more details or to sign up.
About the Author
Kat is a certified clinical herbalist and nutritionist, as well as a certified Bach essences practitioner through the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism. She is also a Registered Herbalist through the American Herbalists Guild. She currently works as the Botany course director, as well as faculty and student services coordinator for the Fundamentals and Advanced programs at the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism.
Kat also has her own clinical practice and runs Meet the Green, through which she teaches classes on herbalism and primitive skills. She also has a blog, Discover the Green, on botany, herbal medicine, and any other information on plants she finds interesting.
Though a transplant from the East Coast, Kat has a passion for working with the herbs nearest to her. Having studied forestry at Northern Arizona University, the plants, animals, and incredible harsh beauty of the Southwest are one of the great loves of her life. Between teaching and working, she spends her time wild crafting and running in the mountains, gardening in the lowlands, and medicine making in between. Her other interests include art, primitive skills, gardening, and generally geeking out on the natural world.