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As I wrote last fall, milkweed is quite the versatile veggie! Earlier this spring, Tim and I enjoyed some young milkweed shoots, boiled and served as a side dish with some salt and pepper. If you’d like to try this vegetable, I strongly recommend Samuel Thayer’s book The Forager’s Harvest. Thayer has a very helpful table of differences between young milkweed’s poisonous lookalike, dogbane. Do not try to harvest young milkweed shoots without doing some serious research!

Milkweed flower buds – just right for picking!

Other parts of the milkweed plant are pretty easy to identify with certainty. Recently, I made a tofu-veggie teriyaki dish with the milkweed’s flower buds. People often say these milkweed florets taste like broccoli, but I don’t think they do, really. It’s just that they’re the same part of the plant, so they resemble each other. I can’t compare the flavor to any other veggie, because like other veggies, milkweed buds have their own flavor. But they’re mild enough that I can’t imagine anyone taking a dislike to them!

**Note: Before you pick anythingread what a reputable wild foods book has to say about identification and poisonous lookalikes.  As I’ve mentioned before, I love Sam Thayer’s books and recommend them to anyone in North America. But I also recommend Edible Wild Plants: A North American Guide to Over 200 Natural Foods, by Thomas Elias and Peter Dykeman, and, for New Englanders, Foraging New England: Finding, Identifying, and Preparing Edible Wilde Foods and Medicinal Plants from Maine to Connecticut, by Tom Seymour.**

Washing milkweed buds

To wash the florets, dunk them in a bowl of water and swish around, making sure they get fully immersed. Then lift them out with your fingers or a slotted spoon, leaving any dirt, dust, or bugs at the bottom of the bowl. If they’re leaving a lot of dirt behind, do this until the water stays clean.

Sauteing milkweed florets

Here’s how I prepared them: I fried tofu slices in sesame oil until golden-brown, then removed the tofu to sauté the florets. After 5 or 6 minutes, I re-added the tofu to the pan, seasoned with a teriyaki sauce, and served over Wehani rice (a type of especially flavorful brown rice). You could also leave off the teriyaki and drizzle a Thai peanut sauce on top, or use coconut oil for frying the tofu and cook the veggies in a panang curry. Both spouse and I pronounced it Good.

Tofu-milkweed teriyaki