Recipe: Wild Green Cakes

Chef Bergo's wild green cakes on a baking sheet
Chef Alan Bergo’s wild green cakes Photo:: Alan Bergo

Makes roughly 10 cakes

2 packed cups (455 g) blanched and shocked wild greens, or a mix of spinach, parsley, and kale
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (30 g) flour or flour equivalent
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh-grated nutmeg or your favorite spice mix (such as Dried Ramp Leaf Rub, page 168), to taste (optional)
Cooking oil, such as lard or grapeseed oil, as needed for cooking the cakes
Fresh lemon wedges, for serving (optional)

Squeeze the greens dry very well. Chop the greens fine and mix with the eggs and flour. Season the mixture with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste; it should be well seasoned. Ideally, you’ll now let the batter rest for 30 minutes or so before cooking, but it can be cooked straightaway if needed. Cook a small piece of the mixture to test the seasoning and adjust to your taste. Shape 1/4 cup (2 ounces / 55 g) into cakes with your hands, then fry on medium-high until browned on both sides. If your cakes seem loose or wet, mix another spoonful of flour into the batter. The cakes are sturdy and reheat well, so I usually make them in large batches. Serve with lemon wedges.

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• Using different grain flours and seasonings can give you different themes. For example, Latin American–flavored cakes made from quickweed and fine cornmeal, scented with cumin, are great used to scoop up guacamole—a bit like fried plantains. By the same token, chard or wild beet green cakes bound with buckwheat or millet flour would be at home with Eastern European flavors such as sauerkraut and pork sausage. Middle Eastern–inspired cakes could be made with malva or violet leaves, seasoned with baharat spice mix, bound with ground wheat flour, and served with tahini sauce.

• Nutmeg is traditional here, but other spices, especially seeds from the carrot family, are really good in nutmeg’s place.

• Play around with combinations of bitter and “sweet” greens. Horseradish greens can be unpalatable for some people, but mixed with other greens (1 part to 3 parts) they can add a nice depth.

• Use the cakes as vehicles for dips, sauces, and salsas.

• After the cakes are cooked, they’re great in a lot of places you’d use a meat patty or ground meat.

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