Foraging isn't just for lush areas of bountiful rainfall. If you know where to look. the Southwest can provide a full basket of healthy and delicious foods. Cooking the Wild Southwest guides you to 23 easily recognized and gathered plants. The chapters include basic information on where and when to find the plants, and harvesting techniques. Once you have the plants in your kitchen, the book provides 150 recipes to help you bring them to your table.
Many people's idea of cooking with southwstern plants begins and ends with prickly pear jelly. But there is an incredible bounty of tasty plants on the southwestern desert and exciting ways to cook them. How about French Bean and Cholla-Bud Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette or Saguaro Barbecue Sauce with Ribs (or tofu is that's your pleasure). For your sweet tooth, there's Mesquite Banana Cake and Chocolate-Chiltepin Cupcakes.
Here's the list of plants covered in the book:
Fruits, Flowers and Cactus
Prickly pear, Saguaro, Cholla, Barrel Cactus, Elderberries
Nuts, Pods and Seeds
Acorns, Mesquite, Pinon Nuts, Chia, Tepary Beans
Mienr's Lettuce, Monkey Flower,, Purslane, Watercress, Wild Mustard, Poverty Weed, Lamb's-quarter, Amaranth
Flavorings from the Wild
Chiltepins, Mexican Oregano, Juniper Berries, Lemondade Bush, Wild Mint
Review from Journal of Arizona History
If we are what we eat, then it makes sense that what we eat speaks volumes about who were are. This sentiment, or something close to it, is at the heart of a movement over the past several decades to consume foods that are locally produced. Carolyn Niethammer, who embraced the local food movement in her pioneering books, American Indian Cooking: Recipes from the Southwest, The Tumbleweed Gourmet, and The Prickly Pear Cookbook, serves up a savory new menu in Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants (University of Arizona Press, 2011). From the more than 500 edible plants native to the Sonoran Desert, Niethammer has culled twenty-three whose fruits, flowers, nuts, and spices provide the ingredients for dishes ranging from ice cream to muffins and from hash to hotcakes. An informative introduction and sprightly anecdotes provide nutritional information, along with helpful hints for budding gourmets and curious desert diners.
--By Bruce J. Dinges