Spring on Manitoulin Island is one of our favourite times; the ice breaks up, the island starts to come awake, and the forests start to fill with fresh wild foods. Some of our favourites are wild leeks and fiddleheads, both of which are now available on Manitoulin Marketplace (harvested sustainably, fresh this week). Here are some recipes featuring these wild spring veggies!
Wild Leek Chutney
- 1 lb wild leek bulbs
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter (OR coconut oil / veggie oil for vegan)
- ½ cup dry sherry, dry wine, or wine vinegar
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp ground mustard powder
- 1 Tbsp yellow mustard seed
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Wash & coarsely chop or slice the wild leek bulbs into 1/4 inch pieces.
- Melt the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and become a light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Be careful not to let them burn.
- Add the sherry/wine/vinegar and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced by about half. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and raise the heat to medium-high. When the mixture comes to a low boil, reduce the heat slightly and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes. Reduce the heat further, if necessary, and stir often to make sure that the bottom does not burn – because of the sugar content, it will burn quickly.
- When the mixture has become fairly thick and bubbly, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Place the cooled wild leek marmalade in a mason jar or other container with a tightly fitting lid and refrigerate for up to a month. (*note, it will thicken as it cools, so we recommend taking it off the heat earlier than you might think)
- Serve with roasted meats and poultry, on sandwiches and with cheese (we recommend an old cheddar) – anywhere you want to add the sweet/sour, tangy flavour of wild leeks.
Simple Sauteed Fiddlehead Ferns
- Start by steaming fiddleheads for 10-12 minutes, or boiling them for 15.
- When fiddleheads are almost done, heat butter in large pan over med-high heat. Toss in fiddleheads and saute until just beginning to brown.
- Once they’re cooked through, squeeze the juice of the lemon over top to deglaze. Remove from heat and serve immediately with salt + pepper.
Wild Leek & Potato Soup
- 3 tbsp butter (use oil for vegan / dairy-free)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 18 wild leeks, green tops reserved and the whites roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 potatoes, peeled and roughly diced
- 8 cups vegetable stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Melt butter in a medium size pot over medium high heat.
- Add the onion, the whites of the leeks and garlic, cook while stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes, or until the vegetables just begin to soften.
- Add in potatoes and vegetable stock. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover with a lid and simmer until the vegetables are completely tender (roughly 30 minutes).
- Clean the leek greens, cut into thin strips and reserve.
- Transfer the soup to a blender. Blend on high speed for at least 1 minute to ensure a smooth texture.
- Season with salt and pepper. Add additional stock or water to adjust consistency if needed. Return the soup to a clean pot and keep warm over low heat.
- Heat a small pan over medium high heat. Add in the olive oil and leek greens. Cook until just wilted, then use the leeks and the olive oil to garnish the soup.
- 1/2 pound fiddleheads
- Sea salt or Himalayan salt
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
- 1/2 teaspoon dill seeds (or dill weed)
- 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 allspice berries
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- Place fiddlehead ferns in a large bowl of cold water and wash well. Rub away any brown chaff and trim cut ends.
- Add two tablespoons of salt to two quarts of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add fiddlehead ferns and cook for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water immediately to stop cooking process
- Combine vinegar, 1/2 cup water, and 1 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Place spices and garlic cloves into the bottom of a prepared pint jar. Pack fiddlehead ferns into the jar and add hot pickling liquid to cover.
- Wipe rim, apply lid and ring and tighten to seal.
- Store in the fridge. Let age for at least one week before consuming.