There are lots of pros to volunteering at a community garden. You get to meet wonderful, passionate people who care about the earth and sustainable eating. You get to spend time outdoors in nature, even if you live in a city. You learn about gardening, and are introduced to new types of plants, fruits, and vegetables. And, the best part, sometimes you get to take the fruit of your labor home. I’ve been helping out here and there with an amazing local organization called Earth’s Promise (seriously – they’re awesome, check them out) and this week I came home with quite a haul: potatoes dug fresh from the earth; lettuce I planted months ago and was finally able to pick; and chubeza (×—×•×‘×™×–×”; aka mallow) a wild edible green that’s popular in Israel and across the Middle East.
I had never eaten chubeza and we didn’t know the English translation, but Adam, one of the co-directors of Earth’s Promise told me they make good patties, so I figured that was a good start. I treated the chubeza as I would any other hearty green (like spinach or chard) and blanched it, squeezed the liquid out, and chopped it. I wanted to make vegan patties, so instead of using eggs I mixed together ground flax seeds with water (it’s amazing how this works – try it in baking!). A bit of lemon juice and salt added flavor and some breadcrumbs padded the mixture out. They were super easy to make (and can be made with whatever green you have available) and are particularly delicious with a bit of (soy) yogurt or sour cream. I’m also all kinds of inspired now and think that this could be the base for a seriously amazing vegan “meatball” recipe.
(Those are my gorgeous freshly dug/picked potatoes and lettuce in the background of the photo – glorious, no?) After having such success with the chubeza I wanted to know more, so did a little research. Turns out it’s called mallow in English, and this particular variety is specifically known as “common mallow,” primarily because it’s often considered a weed (read more about the plant here). It’s apparently common in the States, Europe, and the UK as well so keep your eyes peeled for it – besides these patties, mallow is supposed to be great sautÃ©ed, in soups (it becomes slightly gelatinous and acts as a thickening agent), and for stuffed grape leaves (in this case minus the grape leaves).
- 4 ounces (114 g) chubeza leaves (sub chard, spinach or other hearty greens)
- 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Grapeseed or vegetable oil
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the chubeza leaves. Cook for a few minutes, drain, and rinse with cold water. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible and roughly chop.
- Put the flax seeds and water in a mixing bowl and whisk together until the flax has absorbed and the mixture is slightly thick.
- Add the chopped chubeza, breadcrumbs and lemon juice and season with salt.
- Add enough oil to a medium-sized pan so that it evenly coats the bottom. Heat until the oil sputters a little when hit with a drop of water.
- Form the chubeza mixture into small patties and carefully put in the hot oil. Fry for a few minutes on each side, until evenly browned and crispy (if they start to burn, lower the heat).
- Transfer to paper towel-lined plates. Serve with (soy) yogurt or sour cream, if you like.
Make gluten free by using GF breadcrumbs. Or, I think if you omit them entirely the patties will still hold together just fine.
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