All you need are wild spring greens, a handful of common pantry staples, and 5 minutes to create this flavorful spring foraging recipe!
As I was teaching my two-year-old that he could eat some of the wild plants popping up in early spring, he pointed to purple dead nettle.
“Deese are my beautiful ‘nacks.“
It would be weeks before I could plant anything in my garden, but all sorts of edible backyard weeds were happily growing and asking me to enjoy their flavor, nutrition, and medicinal qualities.
And while it was fun eating them with my toddler, I wanted to make something new with them.
That’s when I remembered chimichurri, the tangy, herby sauce of my taco dreams. A foraged chimichurri made from wild spring greens? I had a feeling it would be incredible. But I had no idea it would also be incredibly easy!
So, What’s Chimichurri Sauce Anyway?
While you’re no doubt familiar with salsa, pesto, and hot sauce, chimichurri might be a little less familiar to you. If you’ve never had it, it’s time you met a new saucy friend.
Chimichurri isn’t like pesto, since there isn’t any cheese in it. It’s also not quite like salsa or hot sauce since it has an oil base. It’s in a sauce-league of its own!
Chimichurri comes from Argentina and Uruguay in South America. It’s zesty, flavorful, and quite simple to make. In fact, you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry right now.
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Salt & pepper
- Hot red pepper, if you like things spicy
In a traditional chimichurri, you simply blend those ingredients together with finely chopped parsley.
Some recipes call for cilantro and a pinch of oregano, too. Chimichurri is the kind of recipe you tweak to fit your preferences, so there isn’t a single right way to make it.
You can put chimichurri on anything from fish to roasted potatoes to the classic grilled beef. The best way I’ve ever eaten it was on some incredible chimichurri steak tacos. Perfection!
Giving Chimichurri an Herbalist’s Twist
As an herbalist, I love finding ways to get more nutrient-rich and medicinal herbs into my day. Infusions and tinctures are nice, but incorporating herbs into your diet gives you another opportunity to enjoy their health benefits.
It’s a bit of the old Hippocrates saying “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
So back to chimichurri.
When I learned how to make it, I was surprised that such a flavorful sauce could be made with such a green-tasting herb. Parsley is quite mild when you compare it to herbs like oregano, basil, and cilantro.
But when I was sitting in my garden with my son, looking at all of the lovely spring greens and wondering what to do with them, I thought about their flavor.
Mild, green, and slightly sweet or slightly bitter. Kind of like parsley.
In a quick second I realized that chimichurri made with early spring greens would be a delicious way to do some spring foraging and enjoy the health benefits these edible weeds offer!
Spring Foraging for 8 Edible & Medicinal Weeds
Spring is a great time to forage for edible weeds (yes, I know, weed is such a mean name). You see, there are a lot of backyard weeds you can eat, but they don’t always taste good once summer rolls around.
But earlier in the season, when these wild spring greens are young, they have a mild flavor that’s quite tasty! And since they taste mildly green, sweet, or spicy, they make a great substitute for parsley in chimichurri.
These grow abundantly in my own Ohio backyard and are packed with wild nutrition:
- Dandelion greens (Taraxacum officinalis)
- Violet leaf and flower (Viola sororia)
- Cleavers (Galium aparine)
- Chickweed (Stellaria media)
- Purple dead nettle (Lamium purpureum)
- Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
- Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)
- Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea)
- Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule)
Know Before You Forage
Foraging is lots of fun, but there are some rules every forager needs to follow. Here are the most important guidelines for spring foraging:
- Always get permission before foraging on land you don’t own. Parks and public lands have different rules about foraging, so be aware of what’s allowed.
- Only forage from areas free from pesticides and chemical or heavy metal contamination. For example, you often see edible or medicinal plants growing along roadsides, but that’s a bad place to forage because of chemical contamination.
- Make absolutely sure you positively identify the plants you forage. Sometimes plants are difficult to identify in the early spring.
- Keep sustainability in mind. None of the wild spring greens I listed above are scarce or threatened, so you can harvest abundantly. But that’s not always the case.
When you go to forage early spring greens for your wild chimichurri, take along some kitchen scissors. These allow you to snip the plants above the ground so they stay clean. If you harvest carefully enough, you might not even need to wash them before preparing them!
Health Benefits of Wild Spring Greens
Foraging in the early spring doesn’t just give you nutritious vegetables. You get a boost of health benefits, too!
Most of these early spring greens are also medicinal herbs. Among other things, most are alterative herbs, or “blood cleansers.” These herbs promote your body’s ability to flush out toxins and accumulated wastes.
They might do this by supporting your lymphatic system like cleavers, promoting digestion like dandelion, or giving you a giant boost of phytochemicals and mucilage like chickweed.
Interestingly, we intuitively begin cleaning our homes and yards in the springtime. People have also intuitively turned to spring tonic herbs to give their bodies a boost of natural detoxification when winter ends.
I can’t think of a tastier way to enjoy some gently cleansing, spring tonic herbs than in this foraged chimichurri!
How to Make Chimichurri with Wild Spring Greens
You might be shocked by how easy it is to make a delicious chimichurri. I was! Gathering your wild spring greens takes the most time, and it should only take you about 5 minutes.
Once you have your ingredients and a food processor ready to go, you’ll have a homemade chimichurri sauce in about 30 seconds. You could hardly ask for a quicker spring foraging recipe!
The simple ingredients and instructions are below, along with a printable recipe card for your convenience.
Disclosure: Affiliate links are included. If you purchase through a link, your cost is the same or lower while I can earn a commission.
Wild Chimichurri Recipe Ingredients
- 2 cups washed, dried, and packed wild spring greens (I used chickweed, dandelion, purple dead nettle, bittercress, and very young cleavers in mine)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3-5 garlic cloves, to taste
- 2 teaspoons salt, divided (I love Real Salt from Redmond. Use code THRIVE for 15% off your order.)
- Black pepper, to taste
- Crushed, dried hot pepper, to taste
The Easiest Way to Make Wild Chimichurri
The easiest way to mix up your wild chimichurri is to do it all in the food processor.
- Place the wild spring greens, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and garlic into your food processor bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, a pinch of black pepper, and a pinch of hot pepper.
- Pulse the food processor until the foraged greens are chopped and the mixture is uniform.
- Taste the chimichurri and add more salt, pepper, and/or hot pepper to meet your preferences. I like the full 2 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper, and 2 teaspoons crushed hot pepper.
- Enjoy it right away, or refrigerate it for up to 24 hours to let the flavors blend. Store leftovers in the fridge.
Traditional purists may scoff at using a food processor to mix up this chimichurri, but it’s hard to beat the speed and convenience. However, if you’d like to make it the old-fashioned way, here’s what to do:
- Finely chop the foraged spring greens with a knife. Mince the garlic. Place in a bowl.
- Pour the olive oil and red wine vinegar over the greens and garlic, then add 1 teaspoon salt, some black pepper, and hot pepper if you’d like it. Whisk together with a fork.
- Taste your chimichurri and add extra salt, pepper, or hot red pepper to taste.
- Use and store as above.
Printable Recipe Card: Wild Chimichurri with Foraged Spring Greens
- Place the foraged greens, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon salt, pinch black pepper, and pinch hot pepper (if using) to a food processor bowl.
- Pulse until the herbs are finely chopped and the mixture is uniform. This should take around 30 seconds or less.
- Taste the chimichurri, then add additional salt, black pepper, or hot pepper to taste. I like the full 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1-2 teaspoons crushed hot pepper flakes.
- Enjoy right away, or store for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator for the flavors to blend. Store all leftovers in the fridge.
You can use any edible foraged plants in the recipe. Some great options are
- Dandelion greens
- Purple dead nettle
- Ground ivy
- Violet leaves
- Garlic mustard
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 64Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 267mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g
I’ll always love sitting with the little people in my life and teaching them how to eat the weeds that grow all around us. I want them to know that these plants aren’t nuisances. They’re food and medicine!
But this wild chimichurri sauce has earned a permanent spot in my spring foraging traditions. Its zesty flavor makes it perfect to share with anyone, even if they’re new to wild spring greens.
And if I can teach more little ones to call purple dead nettle their beautiful snacks in the process, I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished something special.