Wild Menemen – A wild take on Turkish Breakfast

When was the last time you had a really good breakfast? I don’t mean a rushed bowl of cereal or a slice of toast, I mean a proper hot breakfast. Something that starts your day off right and has you whistling at the anticipation of the day. The perfect antidote to any morning h-anger.

I may have an outward looking perspective on most things but when it comes to breakfasts I can be pretty traditional. A full English, consisting of one sausage, two rashers of bacon, fried egg(s), beans and toast.

Then 10 years ago I tried a breakfast in a Turkish restaurant and it was nothing short of divine, perfect even; and a real contender for the worlds best breakfast.

The breakfast was listed as a dish called Menemen, named after the district in Turkey that bore it. The dish in the photo opposite nods towards that dish but I’m sure purists (and many, many others) will scoff at the idea that this is anything like traditional Menemen.

Apart from very tasty, this dish is a great way to use up vegetables by mixing them with whatever wild food is in season. It is highly versatile and can be adapted. Like with any good recipe, take the idea and run with it, make your own with whatever you can find.

Hogweed shoots can be easily confused with other plants, the novice forager should be well aware of the risks of getting the wrong plant, the main risk is death. This image from Robin Harford’s excellent site should help. Wild garlic is easy to come by this time of year, check beneath broadleaf trees and even under hedgerows, but again make sure you know what you are picking. Jack by the hedge can be found, funnily enough, by hedges.

Ingredients

A nob of butter
A pinch dried chilli flakes
1 x medium red onion chopped
6 hogweed shoots (or 2 x celery stalks)
1/2 red pepper
10 cooked new potatoes
1 x handful jack by the hedge
1 x handful wild garlic leaves
50g/2 oz Cheddar (optional)
2 x fresh eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Gently heat the pan and melt, don’t burn, the butter. Sprinkle in the chilli flakes and add the chopped onion.

To prepare the hogweed shoots chop off any leaves and put to one side then slice the stems into 2cm/half inch chunks. If there is any chance you are allergic then miss this step, you could use celery instead. Chop the red pepper into 2cm chunks and add that too along with the new potatoes.

At this time of year the jack by the hedge is starting to flower so I strip the leaves off and leave to one side then cut up the stems and add them to the mix. This is mostly as I don’t like wasting any of the plant once I’ve picked it, occasionally the stems are a little too woody and I regret this step – take a bite of the stem before cooking and you decide.

Keep cooking on a low-medium heat until the ingredients have softened. Chop the wild garlic, jack by the hedge and hogweed leaves and cook until they have reduced and completely softened.

Make two wells in your greenery and crack in two eggs.

Let the eggs whiten then place under the grill. I add cheese, but this is because I’m a cheese addict. You decide.

Serve with a very strong cup of coffee.