When our Creative Director Kristen sat down to dinner at the legendary eatery NOMA on a recent trip to Copenhagen, she was probably thinking about anywhere but home. One of the dishes she was served, however, featured little triangular purple petals fluttered atop it. The shape was familiar; she looked back at the menu. Oxalis. Where had she heard of that?
Oh, right. Her windowsill in Brooklyn.
Kristen says the Oxalis leaves taste lemony and bright; the plant is actually a kind of "sourgrass," and often referred to as "wood sorrel." Its citrusy flavor is due to high levels of oxalic acid—which is also found in vegetables like broccoli and spinach—and vitamin C. (While edible, yes, Oxalis leaves should only be consumed in moderation due to the fact that oxalic acid can inhibit calcium absorption, and people who are prone to kidney stone or who have gout or rheumatism should avoid it entirely.)
But this curious realization—that a common houseplant could also double as an accent in your next dinner—made us wonder: What other common garden varietals are edible? I consulted Atlethea Harampolis, one of the authors of Harvest: Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants, who made a very good first point: If you're planning to eat any garden or houseplant, grow it from seed yourself—you really never know what chemicals might have been used on it at a nursery.
The following are 8 garden plants from Harvest that I hadn't realized were edible before reading it. Plant your own for harvesting, and pick up the book for more ideas on how to cook with them.
The images above are reprinted with permission from Harvest, by Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis, copyright © 2017, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2017 by David Fenton.