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11 Mar 2019

The wonderful world of weeds

If you can't beat them, eat them! Urban forager, Diego Bonetto has made a name for himself as a trailblazing wild food advocate by changing our perception of weeds through his Sydney foraging workshops.

Discover the weedy connection between wild foods, their nutrients and delicious recipes at the Wild Weeds - Foraging Feeds workshops in the native bushland of the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan.

It's not just about identifying edible weeds but Diego is a prolific storyteller, craftsman and cook - with a wealth of knowledge about Australian plants and how to harvest them sustainably.

Diego grew up in a farm in northern Italy, where going out in the fields and woods to collect wild produce was one of the tasks entrusted to the kids. 

"I remember since early age being shown what to look for and how to harvest it, and then on a regular basis I was sent off with my sisters with bags and butter knives to collect dandelions or mulberries or chestnuts or mushrooms. Each season having its own bounty," says Diego.

What would you like people to know about wild weeds?

I would like people to start learning the names to common plants. It is unfortunate how little knowledge there is for the plant world today, people can't recognise dandelions any more.  

Because these plants are called a 'weed', many people don't know how nutritious these plants are.  They should be regarded as a great friend, not a foe.

What are your favourites wild edible plants to cook with?

Depending on the season, at the moment I am quite partial towards farmer's friend (Bidens pilosa), while I am eagerly waiting for dianella berries and riberries to come out.

Try out Diego's signature salsa recipe below.

Sow thistle and mallow salsa verde

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Sow thistle leaves
  • 1/2 cup of Mallow leaves
  • 1 cup parsleysalsa verde
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • 2 teaspoons capers drained
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Dash of red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp dijon mustard
  • Sea salt to taste

Method

  1. Place Sow thistle, Mallow, parsley, garlic and capers in a food processor. Process until finely chopped.
  2. With the motor running, add oil, vinegar, mustard and lemon juice to mixture. Process until well combined.
  3. Season with sea salt and pepper. Stand for 10 minutes.
  4. Serve as a dipping sauce or use as a marinade.
  5. Enjoy the yumminess
sow thistle, australian botanic garden mount annan
Sow thistle is a popular wild weed that Diego uses in cooking.

More information

Become an urban forager expert at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan Wild Weeds - Foraging Feeds workshop. Or if you want to discover the world of weeds in your time, swing by the Visitor Center at the Garden and pick up a book on foraging. 

When channelling your inner farmer, it's important to know which plants are safe to eat and harvest. If ever in doubt, don't eat an unknown plant. You can also upload your photo and ask Diego about plants near you using the Wild Food Map

If you are a journalist and have a media enquiry about this story, please click here for contact details and more information.

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