You can stop laughing now…
It’s not that funny!
Ok, it is funny. But you better get it out of your system because I’m going to be saying Nipplewort quite a lot, on account of the fact that it’s delicious!
It’s not the funniest plant name I’ve come across though… Just wait till I find some Bastard Toadflax! 😂
Nipplewort’s serious name is Lapsana communis. It is a common wild edible plant, known to many by the dismissive term of weed.
I first identified it in my allotment a couple of years ago but for some reason it never occurred to me to eat it… I realise that sounds quite unremarkable to some people but its not like me at all!
Perhaps it doesn’t get the recognition of other wild greens like Nettles or wild garlic because of it’s silly name?
The reason for it’s name is often attributed to the shape of the flower buds or the seeds which appear from inside.
It may not be coincidence that it’s also known for it’s medicinal use in matters of the breast; including treatment of ulcers and to staunch the flow of milk in nursing mothers.
So although I was aware of Nipplewort as a medicinal plant, I hadn’t thought about eating it as a green vegetable until somebody mentioned it in Robin Harford’s Gather Community*.
Not one to turn down a free meal, I went into the garden and picked some, the plant was looking lush and green and not yet flowering.
I cooked it with a few other garden greens and I really enjoyed it!
I recommend learning to recognise and identify this plant as a food source.
There’s no need to be exact with quantities here, if you love garlic, add loads, if you’re not so keen use less or leave it out altogether (although for the record I think that’s a bad idea!).
If you don’t have any fresh sage, use dried or whichever herbs you like or have available. You get the idea, it’s flexible!
- Butternut Squash – peeled and cubed.
- Organic Brown Basmati Rice*
- Freshly Picked Nipplewort
- Onion and Garlic
- Fresh Herbs (Sage, Thyme)*
- Vegetable or Mushroom Stock
- Olive Oil
- Other Ingredients*
*See notes below
First, Turn on the oven (180-200 Celsius) and begin cooking the rice in boiling salted water.
Peel and chop the butternut, drizzle with olive oil and roast in a large oven dish.
Prepare stock liquid and peel and chop onion and garlic.
Once the butternut begins to brown, add the onion, stirring to coat with oil.
When the onion begins to turn translucent, add chopped garlic and herbs. (careful not to burn at this stage)
Once the garlic begins to brown slightly, add the chopped Nipplewort and some of the liquid stock.
Cook for another five minutes or until the leaves begin to wilt.
Add the cooked rice and seasoning, stirring to combine.
Add a little more stock if needed.
Ideally you want enough to add flavour and moisture to the rice rather than to make soup.
(Or rather, that’s what I wanted to do, you may indeed want to make soup! I fully support your decision.)
Leave in the oven long enough to heat the rice through and absorb most of the liquid.
Remove Bay leaves or herb stalks if used, and Serve!
Notes And Suggestions:
I prefer to use Brown Basmati rice. The cooking method differs slightly from white rice which I would soak and rinse before cooking.
For brown basmati, add to a pan of cold salted water, bring to boil, stir, reduce to medium heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
You can lesson the boiling time and add to oven with the vegetables to finish cooking, adding more stock liquid.
Obviously you can add whatever you want to use in this recipe. Mushrooms would be nice roasted with the squash.
Chickpeas or other beans would work well.
A splash of white wine with the stock.
Freshly squeezed lemon juice would be nice added to the pan or a wedge for serving.
You can significantly change the flavours of this dish depending on the herbs you use. I love Sage and it’s health benefits and it’s often paired with Butternut squash. If I didn’t have any, I might choose Rosemary instead.
Bay leaves work in lot’s of dishes and could be added to the stock or the roasting tray.
If you don’t have any fresh herbs to use, dried will suffice but consider growing some. Lots of herbs work well in the garden, they are hardy, look good throughout the year, attract pollinators, and provide colourful flowers and aromatic scents. Even if you don’t have a garden many will grow happily in a pot in the kitchen.
Eat More Nipplewort!
Thanks For reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Look out for this plant near you, and try it yourself (Remember to be certain of identification first).
Are you already familiar with Nipplewort? Have you tried eating it or using it for anything else? Leave a comment below and share your experiences.