Wild About - Mallow (Candied Sweet Potato with Mallow Topping)

When a major cold snap hit last week, I thought my time for foraging greens was up. But then, when I was out riding, I would see little patches of mallow (Malva neglecta) along protected fence lines. Unfortunately, there were yards on the other side of those fences, and I won't eat any food that comes near kept grass. There is just too much potential for contamination with chemicals. This is something you constantly have to be aware of in an urban setting. It seems to me that the risk of illness from a misidentification is minimal if you are a thoughtful urban forager, but the risk of eating pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals is very real. I stay away from lawn, parks, roads, and anything that grows directly next to a trail.

So, after quite a few miles on my bike, I was finally able to find a patch of mallow growing in an area protected from the elements, but safe from chemical warfare (not an easy combo deep into November in the Rocky Mountain region). Even though the leaves are smaller than in the summer, I was still able to collect enough for a few recipes.

If you would like to forage mallow, look for it's telltale fan-shaped leaves. The plant tends to creep along the ground in disturbed soil (near humans). The leaves, flowers, and fruit are all edible. Some think mallow fruit tastes of cheese, thus it's other common name - cheese weed. Use mallow leaves as you would any greens, sauteed with something porky, in salads, with eggs, or in soups.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I decided to make candied sweet potatoes with mallow. I know, another food joke, hooray, the last one went over so well. Don't hurt me, but I'm not a fan of sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top. If you aren't either, perhaps you'd prefer this version, where the sweet potato gets naturally candied with a long roast, and eventually benefits from the contrast of crispy mallow.

Roast whole sweet potatoes in the oven for a least an hour, until they get quite soft. In the meantime, dust dry mallow leaves with a little rice flour, and shallow fry them in lard (be very very careful, they'll spatter!) for just a few seconds, or until crispy and lightly browned. When the roasted sweet potatoes are cooked, slit them down the side, slide a few pats of butter in them, sprinkle with black walnuts (or pecans), and top with the frizzled mallow and a few cracks of salt and pepper.

I'm sharing this recipe with the Hearth and Soul hop and Real Food Wednesday.

Comments

  1. Gosh, I find it fascinating how my seasons in SoCal are so different to the rest of the world. Our mallows are either non-existent or teeny in the summer, but huge and luscious and beautiful in the winter. They just started coming up a couple of weeks ago.

    And I love the joke, as always :).

    ReplyDelete
  2. we have mallow bushes backing our house from the neighbor's yard, but I assume that is different from what you are talking about! Will have to see if we have this one lurking around! I love how you are doing mission impossible for greens and coming up with a score every time! Love ya! Enjoy. Alex

    ReplyDelete
  3. Is this mallow the same as mine, which grows stalks and produces purple flowers?

    ReplyDelete
  4. New ingredient to me! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've never even heard of mallow...but I'm loving the sound of this. A simple roasted potato w/ its own caramelized seepage is my total favorite...but I'm sooo wanting to try a bit of crispified mallow on top. YUM! Wonder if it grows here? You're the rockinest hearth and soul hop foraging hostess, my friend ;) ...like all those liberties I took with the english language? Hmmm.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This sounds delicious! This is why I keep pesticides off of my property - so I can eat the weeds! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great idea! I don't much like sweet potatoes with marshmallows either.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have to confess, I didn't know what mallow was, but looking at your pictures I am sure I have seen it growing. Your recipe sounds really delicious. I don't use pesticides either, not that I have been brave enough to do any foraging yet, but just in case anyone else does!! Happy Thanksgiving!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have at this later point in my life, acquired a taste for sweet potatoes and as far as I'm concerned...marshmallows belong on the end of a stick in the campfire. Butter you never cease to amaze and I know you've heard this before..."If I have to be marooned on an island somewhere. You're coming with me!" You take Hearth and Soul hop hostess to a whole 'nother level.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Alex and Pam, sounds like a different plant to me. This is a short ground creeper with flowers that look like tiny wheels of cheese (I think they're white).

    April and Alea - Watch out, or next thing you know I'll be picking in your yards (soon as I get the plane ticket, April).

    Amen, Jason, keep those marshmallow toasting above a campfire!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have heard its called cheese because the fruits look like a tiny wheel of cheese. I will need to try the greens this year. I always thought they looked like they were some kind of wild geranium- Steve from PA

    ReplyDelete
  12. I can't wait to try this, It's great that it is gluten free too! I knew I had mallow growing around the outside of my vegetable beds, but I wasn't sure what to do with it!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular Posts