Savory Dessert or Sweet Appetizer: Ox-eye Daisy Phyllo Rolls with Honey and Thyme

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Betwixt and between – is how you might describe this time, halfway between late summer and true autumn. This is the time when cooling weather and beginning rains cause the wild greens to regenerate and grow vigorous. 

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Ox-eye Daisy Greens

This is the time of year when the leaves of plants fill with solar energy as it goes about photosynthesis, taking energy to its root.  This not only plumps and sweetens the leaves, it fills them what we might call in yoga, prana or life-force energy.

In herbalism, the theory goes something like this. In spring plants send out leaves to soak up the growing sun – but all its energy is directed towards making the blossom. After the fruit, as things go to seed, the coming fall sends the plant’s energy back to the root. There it recharges and rests until the sun returns. So this is the time when leaves and greens are fattening with energy for winter.

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Early fall forage: hawthorn berries, rosehips, ox-eye daisy greens, plantain, red clover, self-heal, cleaver, wild aster, and grindelia

This “betwixt and between” time is the ideal time to invigorate yourself with a little plant magic.  You can come into the flow of this natural cycle and boost your vitality by eating these fresh, delicious and reinvigorated greens. (And a few of the other seasonal goodies, Hawthorn berries and Rosehips, ripening now.)

Start by going out into your backyard or a nearby field. Look for the healthiest most vital, shining, wild greens. Depending on where you live, you might find Dandelion, Chickweed, Cleavers, Plantain – or my absolute favourite Ox-eye Daisy. Make these into something – a salad, a pesto – or how ’bout this Ox-eye Daisy Roll with Honey and Thyme?

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I think Ox-eye Daisy leaves are sweetest and most delicate of all wild greens. Chickweed is also mild, but Ox-eye Daisy greens have a flavour signature all their own, nutty, fruity with just a hint of bitter.

I wanted to create a dish that captured their unique flavour – without overwhelming it. I remembered a recipe I’d once seen – phyllo “cigars” with goat cheese, honey and thyme. Obviously, goat cheese would be too pungent for the Ox-eye Daisy greens, so I would substitute with a creamy Mascarpone and incorporate the greens – inside the roll.  Thus this recipe was born. And in homage to “betwixt and between” it could be either a savoury dessert or a sweet appetiser!

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Ox-eye Daisy derives from the Asteraceae or Compositae family and has been used medicinally in herbalism for hundreds of years. Its Latin name is Chrysanthemum leucantheum which comes from the Greek Christos meaning golden and anthos meaning flower, while leuka means white. She was the flower of the Scandinavian Goddess Freya and in early Christianity, she was the flower that symbolised St. Mary Magdalene. Today she is regarded as an invasive – though edible – “weed”.

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The leaves of the Ox-eye Daisy are pretty simple to identify. They grow in a rosette shape (round) from the base of the plant, and they are spoon-shaped with undulating rounded tooth edges.

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Aside from its many medicinal benefits, Ox-eye Daisy has tonic properties. Which means it is used to reinvigorate and support the body. In general, tonics help restore and maintain balance or homoeostasis, throughout all of the body systems, plus they increase energy and boost our immunity.

So this humble little Ox-eye Daisy Phyllo Roll offers you much more than delicious flavour. It’s not only good for you, I’m pretty sure it’s bursting with prana and the life-giving energy of the season.

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Ox-eye Daily Phyllo Rolls with Mascarpone, Honey and Thyme

NOTE: This is an approximate recipe, I didn’t keep track of the exact measurements when I put it together. I bring it you early and untested because by the time you wait for me to ‘perfect’ it, the brief window of time during which these greens thrive- might be over!  So adjust to your own wisdom.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Ox-eye Daisy Greens
  • 1 box of Phyllo Pastry (you’ll only need half of it- and look for organic versions!)
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 3 ounces Mascarpone Cheese (or more if you want it creamy)
  • 1/4 cup of organic honey (or more if you want it slathered)
  • Few springs of fresh thyme
  • dash of sea salt

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Take half of your phyllo pastry and cut into rectangles (approx 10 by 8)
  • Brush the bottom and top layers with melted butter
  • Lightly(!) saute the greens in a smidgen of butter
  • Chop greens finely or throw in food processor
  • Combine with cheese, 1/8 cup of honey, salt and a teaspoon of thyme
  • Spread thinly over phyllo pasty
  • Roll up
  • Brush all over with melted butter (or olive oil) dust with thyme leaves
  • Place in pre-heated oven to bake for approx. 15 – 20 minutes until golden and browning.

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P.S. I also just made this with plantain – and it was really tasty!

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