1. Dandelions from 11 Things You Didn't Know You Could Eat Slideshow

11 Things You Didn't Know You Could Eat Slideshow


1. Dandelions

You already pluck those nasty garden weeds out of your beloved flower beds, so why not find some good use for them? Dandelion roots and leaves are great additions to your plain salad. Tastiest before the flower heads appear (though some eat them, too), enjoy them sautéed, steamed, or even deep-fried. They are said to have a very bitter taste, but offer a hearty variation to your average salad when paired with sweeter vegetables. Be sure to thoroughly clean anything that comes from your own garden and to pluck them when they're young for the best flavors. You can even use dandelion heads to make your own wine. Considered to be a cleansing plant due to its diuretic and digestive qualities, this nutrient-filled weed may be one of the healthiest unique backyard treats you'll ever have.


2. Peach Leaves

The band The Presidents of the United States of America had it right in their ode to the peach — its bounties don't just end with the luscious fruit. It is important to note that one should never directly eat a peach tree leaf or twig (it can be poisonous if consumed in mass quantities), but rather use it for flavoring. Steep peach leaves in wine for a few minutes after freshly plucking them for a delicious almond and floral flavor, or in milk for five minutes to make a peach-leaf custard.


3. Cactus

Prickly pear pads (say that three times fast) make excellent jams or jellies for your pantry. Look for small, firm, unwrinkled, and pale-green cacti that aren't too dry. These edible cacti will taste similar to tart green beans or asparagus, with a slightly sticky texture. You'll know it’s an edible cactus by its oval-shaped, fleshy pads. If you’re lucky — or apprehensive about scouring the desert for this delectable treat — you can find prepackaged cacti (also called "nopales" in Mexican cooking) in some stores.


5. Purslane

The weeds that creep up between the cracks in the sidewalk may belong in your salad. Most often used in the Mediterranean, purslane contains high counts of omega-3 fatty acid, which can reportedly lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Unlike many plants, all parts of purslane are edible, so it's safe to boil it whole or simply clean it and starting munching. With a slightly sour, salty taste, purslane can give any soup or salad an extra bite and a bounty of benefits.


6. Nettle

Talk about a meal with some bite. Stinging nettle wards off any unwanted predators — aside from the dedicated nettle-head. While harvesting and washing this stinging plant, be sure to wear long sleeves, pants, and gloves to protect your skin. Also, take care to ignore nettle in ditches and areas where dogs might relieve themselves, as no amount of washing will help clean that off. Though the acquisition of nettle may be an arduous process, the benefits are worth the trouble. Enjoy nettle pesto, beer, bread, and more once you carefully remove the leaves from this plant.


7. Burdock

This wonder root has a bitter taste but positive effects. Used in a number of herbal remedies to aid with digestion and skin problems, burdock seeds and plants contain a significant amount of fiber to help with internal ailments. But for those looking for a meal instead of medicine, try eating burdock sliced raw with a dash of sea salt, caramelized in a pan, or made into a piping hot burdock tea. You should try and gobble up burdock whenever you can, given its natural healing properties.


8. Carnations

We all know that some flowers can be consumed, but who knew that a floral arrangement staple could be the star of your next dish? Steeped in wine or eaten plain, the carnation's beauty doesn't end with its looks. Surprisingly, the taste is said to be somewhat spicy, and provides a kick to other foods. Be sure to eat carnations from your own garden to ensure there are no pesticides. Freeze carnation leaves in ice and add to lemonade for an interesting flavor, use as a garnish for pasta dishes, or add them to gelatin mixes.


9. Balut

This delicacy will most likely strike you as anything but egg-cellent. Not quite egg and not quite duck, this delicacy is an avian in the making. Undeveloped, boiled-alive duck fetus is considered a delicacy in the Philippines, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Commonly purchased from street vendors who keep the roughly 12- to 17-day-old eggs warm in sand, balut can be enjoyed in various ways. Some simply suck the juices out of the embryo, while others consume the whole thing. The dish normally comes precooked from vendors. Depending on your level of comfort and desired taste, seasoning mixtures can be added to make balut as delectable as possible. You'll never look at breakfast the same way again.


10. Cockscomb

You eat the breast, thighs, wings, and even the neck, so why not the funny-looking organ called the cockscomb atop the male chicken's head? Not particularly distinguishable in taste from the rest of the bird, the idea of serving this dish is more for the "wow factor." Cockscomb should be soaked in lemon juice to remove its tough exterior and works well in risotto or with any dressing. Cockscomb is traditionally regarded as a French dish or a welcome complement to Italian sauce dishes.


11. Pansies

Pretty for your garden and lovely for your palate, these incredibly fragrant flowers break the cardinal rules of flower eating. Surprisingly, you can pop this beauty whole, with no stem or leaf removal. Think of pansies as an accent to bigger dishes — try topping cream cheese-smothered crackers with them for an aesthetically pleasing nosh. Pansies have a mildly wintergreen flavor and their taste will take your breath away (and make it smell fresh, too).


4. Bugs

Insects are definitely edible, and we aren't talking about the gummy goodies from your Creepy Crawlers cooking set. There are more than 1,000 types of palatable bugs, all of which are exceptional sources of protein.Six-leggers are great to munch on raw, boiled, or cooked (sauted or fried) if you're caught in the wilderness and need them for survival. If you're simply interested in trying them, there are plenty of buggy boutiques where you can order these unique dishes. Try roasted giant water bugs as a side dish, or even scorpions preserved in brine. Bugs may make your skin crawl, but they'll also fill your stomach with exotic chow.

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11 Things You Didn't Know You Could Eat Slideshow