"Probably 90% of our common garden weeds in this area are not only edible but also tasty,” said urban forager Jeremy Puma as he headed into West Seattle’s Lincoln Park in search of edible dock.
"Dock is essentially a wild sorrel - it's in the buckwheat family, it's a relative of rhubarb. You can find it almost everywhere it particularly likes wet places."
Puma found his dock by spotting the tall brown seed stalks that stick up like flags. Then he got to work cutting some from a patch that was well off the trail, not in the “dog pee zone”.
"See how like enormous it is?” he said, finding a broad green leaf. “This you put rice in, you fold it over, and you have yourself a nice little dolmas. That's what we'll be having later today.”
As he harvests his bounty of greens, he explains the golden rule all foragers follow:
"Rule number one if any foraging is unless you're 100% sure you know what it is don't put it in your mouth which is a good role for life in general,” he laughed.
Below is Jeremy’s recipe for Dock Dolmas, and you can take urban foraging classes with him at Seattle Farm School.
WILD DOCK DOLMAS with a SOUR BERRY REDUCTION
TOTAL TIME: Approx. 40 minutes after brining is complete and rice is cooked
Makes 10-12 dolmas plus stuffing for a second batch
- 10-12 large, mature broadleaf dock (Rumex obtusifolius) leaves
- 1 cup sour berries (Oregon grape are best, but fresh cranberries will also work)
- cup vegetable broth plus amount needed to cook rice
- 1 ½ cups rice, cooked (1/2 of liquid replaced with vegetable broth)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced finely
- ½ onion, minced
- 3 medium lemons, quartered
- 1/2 cup plain Greek or full-fat yogurt
- 1/8 cup sea salt plus enough to add to taste
- Pepper to taste
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Clean the leaves. Wash thoroughly, then soak in water with approx. 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar for ten minutes. Drain and rinse.
- Brine the leaves. Dissolve 1/8 cup sea salt in 2 cups water. If the salt won’t dissolve, it’s okay to heat the water on the stove as long as the brine is room temperature when it goes onto the leaves. Pour the brine over the leaves, covering completely. Weigh the leaves if necessary so they remain submerged. Refrigerate, covered, for 24-48 hours. Remove, drain, and rinse.
- Make the rice. Any kind of rice is fine; I prefer Thai Red Rice. Follow the instructions on the rice package, but replace ½ of the water with vegetable broth. EXAMPLE: For Thai Red Rice, I added 1 ½ cups of rice, 1 ½ cups water, and 1 ½ cups vegetable broth. *You could also use a different grain, like quinoa, or season the rice with your favorite herbs while it cooks.
- Make the reduction. While the rice is cooking, add the berries and 2 cups water to a saucepan. Turn the heat to high. When the liquid is boiling, turn to medium low and crush the berries coarsely with a potato masher. Continue to simmer, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by half. Mash the berries further, then strain the liquid through a mesh strainer. Retain the liquid (your reduction). Discard the solids.
- Make the stuffing. In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic and onions. Stir, cooking until just tender and fragrant. Remove from heat. Mix the garlic and onion, as well as the remaining olive oil, the juice of ½ lemon, and half of the berry reduction. Salt and pepper to taste. *At this point, you could consider experimenting with the filling. Consider adding ground meat, like lamb, or sunflower seeds, or tomato paste. Have fun!
- Make the dolmas. Add approximately a palm-full of mixture to the middle of each dock leaf, and fold/roll tightly. Arrange in your sauté pan, allowing the dolmas to touch as needed to keep the wrapping tight. If you’re making a large number of dolmas, it’s fine to squeeze them into the pan.
- Cook the dolmas. When all of the dolmas are constructed and in the pan, add the remaining vegetable broth. Squeeze the lemons into the pan, and add the rinds as well. Cover, turn the heat to medium high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low/low medium, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue simmering for 5-10 minutes or until the dolmas are fork-tender. Add water or additional broth as needed if they begin to dry out.
- Serve the dolmas. Plate the dolmas. Mix the yogurt with the remaining berry reduction and drizzle over the top of each. Garnish with the cooked lemon rinds.
- Eat the dolmas. YUM!