here are five plants for use in the kitchen – Italian Cuisine

here are five plants for use in the kitchen


The watercress, a natural purifier, the queen turmeric among the spices, the detoxifying and antioxidant milk thistle, the dandelion, the grass of our anti-retention lawn par excellence. And yet, the bitter chicory. We talked about drinks to cleanse us in the pre-spring. Here are the plants there help with detox, preparing for the lightness of summer.

These are plants that we can eat – for example in a nice salad – but also drink, in herbal teas or hot infusions but also fresh in centrifuges or in homemade flavored waters with a moisturizing and detoxifying action.

Let's start with dandelion (in the photo), a popular officinal plant to the point of having numerous and imaginative names in the regional tradition: from dandelion to dog's tooth, or salad of pigs or even showerhead, but above all piscialletto, the epithet that best expresses its diuretic consequences. And in fact the dandelion, among its various medicinal properties (including the digestive and anti-swelling of the root), has precisely that of fight water retention. Cellulite is advised. Perfect for spring salads, which can be also enriched with colored petals of its flowers. Whose buds can be pickled like capers.

The dandelion is also called wild chicory. Common chicoryhowever, the bitter one that can be eaten both raw in salads and cooked, is an equally valuable plant for purification and detoxification, intestine, liver and kidneys (as well as having digestive and laxative effects). The substances that stimulate these functions are concentrated in the roots, it is true, but with the regular consumption of its leaves the same effects are obtained.

To help the body, and especially the liver overworked by food heaviness and winter alcoholic debauchery, from which world is it in the Mediterranean is used the milk thistle, which really stimulates the elimination of toxins. You can use it in infusion and decoction, but also – without going into contradiction with alcoholic purification! – obtain an excellent liqueur. However, we have news: the milk thistle it is also used in the kitchen: the whole plant, from the roots to the leaves to the flowers, can be consumed, either cooked or raw. Leaves (as for the plants above, to be harvested before flowering), without the central rib are excellent in salads. The top however are i flower heads, which seem a cross between a puntarella (asparagus chicory) and a miniature artichoke (in fact they have pelurietta inside, and in the kitchen they are used like artichokes).

The watercress it is also a plant from the very rich therapeutic properties. There are more varieties: the water (the most common to eat in salads), the English one and the wild one of the meadows. Almost a natural antibiotic (and apparently aphrodisiac), is perfect for the Detox: it is purifying, detoxifying and diuretic. And digestive. Five "D" for the price of one! With a pungent and vaguely acidulous taste, its use in the kitchen is handed down in history: the English one, used as a spicy and fragrant aromatic herb, is delicious as a condiment, starting with the first courses. And remember: you can also drink in juice!

Turmeric, a plant of Asian origin, is one spice "mother" on a phytotherapeutic level, in the sense that its beneficial properties almost do not count. Here are the ones we are interested in for detox: curcumin is anti-aging because antioxidant, anti-swelling, because it reduces the air in the stomach and intestines, digestive, because it stimulates the secretion of bile, which helps "eat" fat, fights bad cholesterol and lowers blood sugar. Its root that stains with yellow-orange fingers can be given free of charge on foods, and it too is delicious as a base for one healthy and refreshing drink.

All these plants, except the last one (which is now also cultivated by us, with excellent results, by some bold producers), can easily be collect in an outing trip. It gives a lot of satisfaction: however, be careful not to confuse plants with similar ones only in appearance, and of course to avoid polluted places.

Carola Traverso Saibante
Photo: Wikimedia / Archenzo
13 April 2016
updated April 2019

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