The Feisty Forager: Sochan
March Madness — Day 18
Sochan, or green-headed coneflower, also called cut-leaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata), is frequently touted as a staple of the Cherokee diet, particularly in early springtime, when its prolific greenery grows at a terrific rate, making it a great plant to feed a crowd.
A member of the aster family, sochan produces a tall yellow flower, resembling a miniature sunflower or black-eyed-Susan. This makes it a perfect addition to your garden or yard, if you’re looking for that height in the backdrop, up against a wall. The bonus, of course, is that you can eat on it from March through October.
Pick the fresh young shoots and greens and sauté them lightly in butter, olive oil, or bacon fat (Southerners, of course, prefer the latter), add a splash of vinegar if you wish, and gobble them up, alongside a porkchop or a nice slice of ham. Or, if you are of vegetarian persuasion, sauté them in olive oil, make a nest in the middle, and drop in a poached egg. Garnish, if you have them, with ramps, or — if you get really lucky — with morels.
Be careful not to confuse with buttercup, which is a look-alike to the unexperienced eye.
This article is one of a month-long series of foraged treasures. For more recipes from the field and forest, check out Appalachian Appetite: Recipes from the Heart of America.