Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with some oxalis – better known as the shamrock. Did you know that shamrocks are edible? Not only edible but tasty. The flowers are edible too. BUT a major caution first!
Don’t eat oxalis just purchased unless it is labeled “organic.” Ornamental plants such as oxalis are very often treated with toxic insecticides and fungicides (biocides) that are systemic (throughout all plant tissues) and stay in the plants for around three months. Herbs and vegetable plants are not legally treated with systemic biocides because they are edibles.
Oxalic acid in excess can bother your kidneys. Oxalic acid is found in many plants including rhubarb. For our post on wild rhubarb and more oxalic acid cautions – see this post.
Both leaves and flowers of oxalis are edible with a pleasing tartness. Flowers and leaves can be added to salads and soups for a zesty citrusy tang. Or capitalize upon this lemony flavor and puree leaves with fresh dill and a drizzle of olive oil to use on fish – delightful! The flavor of oxalis also works well to make a “lemon” chicken.
So far I have also mixed diced oxalis flowers and leaves into omelets, fritattas, potato salad, egg salad, and put it in “wraps” with cream cheese, turkey, or ham. A friend chops oxalis and adds it along with fresh oregano her home-made goat cheese.
These wraps good to make for a potluck or a party that calls for finger foods. All you need are some wrappers, something as a “holder-together, and some oxalis.
Wrappers can be flour tortillas or a gluten-free alternative. The holder-together can be cream cheese or a non-dairy substitute. Do select something with a mild flavor so the zing of the oxalis can predominate.
Oxalis should be cut fresh, rinsed, and the stems trimmed off. If there are any seed pods, they should be removed as well because they can be stringy. Feel free to munch them if you wish, you just might not want to inflict them on guests. You need a great deal of oxalis, and if you run short, a mild chive can be added, or even micro-greens.
Smear the wrap with cream cheese, add the oxalis to one half and roll it up. Leave about half the tortilla uncovered so it will really stick – these are finger foods.
Slice into bite-sized chunks. If you slice on a diagonal it looks more elegant. This means you will have trimmings to eat.
Meat is just fine in these wraps, I made two plates of oxalis wraps for the party I went to – one vegetarian, one “meat-atarian.” The oxalis goes very well with milder flavored meats like turkey or chicken.
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More cooking and using Southwestern native plants in Father Kino’s Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today (Tierra del Sol Institute Press). This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute will get a few pennies at no additional cost to you.
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