We are lucky to still have some [wild herbs] around—the meadows are still green, so let’s eat them for as long as we can and savour all of the nutrients and vitamins they contain!

There are a few perks to planning a dinner series—one of them is to be able to sample and indulge in delicious food prepared by our participating chefs. On a bright autumn we invited food designer and storyteller Inés Lauber over to fine tune the menu for our premiere evening, Wherever you go, there you are, of our new salon series, Coco, Yoko & Bell—and of course she brought a bounty from her garden and beyond, to cook up a delicious, seasonal lunch. While Inés cooked and demonstrated, we took notes and pictures to share with you:

Wild herbs grow in the city almost all year, and they are free, the only thing to make sure of is that you pick them from a good clean spot. Store bought herbs tend to go bad quickly in the fridge, but the wild herbs last longer and has better flavour and a higher nutritional value. Right now we’re at the beginning of the season for butternut squash and pumpkin, and we have the very last little tomatoes. The tiny carrots I brought are from the balcony—the greens are bigger than the carrots themselves. The pesto is made from the carrot greens and taste a bit like parsley when it’s fresh. Store bought carrot greens often get a bit hard, but the young and fresh ones have a nice flavour and a similar nutritional value to parley.

I’m using black eyed peas, but any type of bean can be used for this dish. Legumes are affordable and easy to prepare once soaked. Currently they are way under utilised, but historically they were used more often when meat was hard to come by, due to their high protein content.

Because they add nitrogen back into the earth, growing legumes is also good for the soil, therefore, when we eat them, we encourage farmers to grow more of them.

It’s always better to buy them dry instead of from cans, despite the extra hassle to soak them for 12 hours and cook them for at least 45 minutes. I recommend tasting them along the way, as the cooking time depends on the size of your beans and how soft you like them.

A hot tip is to make a lot of beans at one time. They last about four days in the fridge, but can be frozen once soaked or cooked, and they’re great to have around to throw in a salad, hummus or make into bean burgers. So versatile!

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No-cheese Pesto

Ingredients
Any fresh herb or green (in this case, mostly carrot greens)
Spring onions
Garlic
Your oil of choice
Seeds or nuts (I used sunflower seeds and pre-roasted pumpkin seeds)
Lemon juice
Salt

How to
I don’t measure my ingredients and just do it by feel.
To make a more dense pesto, which makes a great spread for bread, add more nuts or seeds.
More herbs give you a lighter version and more oil makes it great for mixing with pasta.
Throw all your ingredients in a blender and mix.

I make pestos if I have greens that are going to go bad, rather than freezing the greens, because the oil preserves the flavor better. An quicker alternative would be to just blend the greens with oil and salt, which can then be used for salad dressings.

Easy Syrup

Ingredients
Orange peel
A handful mint
500 grams sugar (in this case raw cane sugar, which makes a darker, brow color)
About one liter of water

How to
Add all ingredients to a pot and heat it to boiling.
Turn the temperature down and let it simmer for about half an hour, stirring constantly.
Less water gives a more concentrated syrup.

When using delicate ingredients like flowers, follow the same process, but first let the mixture sit overnight to capture the more nuanced aromas, before sifting out the flowers.

Aside from adding it to drinks, syrup is great in salad dressings or for marinating veggies.

Veggie Roast

Ingredients
Half of a large squash
Half of a large zucchini (or one normal)
3 green onions
Wild majoram
Wild oregano
Salt
Olive oil
Syrup
Lemon

How to
Remove the outer skin of the butternut squash.
Cut into 1cm cubes.
Chop the zucchini to the same size.
Mince 3 medium garlic cloves.

In the meantime bring the beans to a boil—double amount water to beans.
You may have to add more water in the process.
Keep the lid tilted, or off so it doesn’t overboil.
Don’t add salt until after.

Set the oven to 200 C.
Throw the squash and zucchini on a tray.
Mix in chopped up green onions and sprinkle on some wild oregano and marjoram, a pinch of salt and a drizzle of syrup and olive oil. Add the zest of one lemon and mix it all up with your hands. Bake in the oven for about a half hour.

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Loaded Bread Slice

Ingredients
Half a loaf sourdough/rye mix from a local bakery
Two topping options
Carrot greens pesto with shredded carrots and fresh herbs and a pinch salt
Ricotta topped with sliced cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs

Where is this hatred for gluten coming from? Fermented dough is actually very healthy!
Don’t stop eating bread, just stop eating the wrong kind of bread.
It’s important to talk about bread in Germany so we don’t lose the culture.
Bread is a wholesome food that makes you full!

Autumn Bean Salad

Foraged herbs used for the salad
(Use what you can find or have access to)
Ground elder
Dandelion greens
Sarrow
French button herb
Mint
Carrot greens

How to
Finely chop all the herbs
Mix your roasted veggies, the chopped herbs, diced apples from a local orchard, your cooked beans, juice and zest of one lemon, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of chipotle for some smokey flavour.
Toss it all together in a big bowl and serve in your favourite dish.

Enjoy!
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Photos by Sun Mee Martin | Food by Inés Lauber