These are unopened milkweed flowers; I began to eat them while first learning how to forage in central Vermont in the 70s. (How’d I learn? Euell Gibbons , of course.) The season is very short—just a couple of days for each plant, spread out over a period of maybe a week or two in any given location—so you have to be lucky to find them. Once the buds start to open up, they’re done. But when they’re tight and broccoli-like, as these are, they’re sweet, and cook instantly. I parboil them for a minute or two before incorporating them into other things. (Sometimes, I’m lucky enough to gather a big mess, and then I parboil them and toss them with vinaigrette or melted butter.)
Here, I made dirty rice, the Louisiana version of fried rice. I took leftover brown rice (I really love Kokuho, from Koda Farms) and tossed it with duck fat and chopped duck liver from my friends at Grass + Grit (more on those folks soon), fresh garlic and bonita beans, both hand-“imported” (by me) from California, scallions, kale, and turnip greens from Glynwood, and my milkweed buds (which, truth be told, did not steal the show, but neither did they disappear). Other seasonings were minimal (that brown thing at the bottom of the picture is a dried chipotle). Obviously, you’re not going to duplicate this recipe but the concept is easy enough. And if you’re fortunate to find milkweed…check it out.