The Path to Wild Foods: WILD Bergamot Recipes

This week, we are thrilled to share with you some WILD RECIPES from Saskatoon-based ethnobotanist and NatureCity Festival organizer Sandra Walker. Join Sandra during NatureCity Festival, for her 'walkshop' A Path to Wild Foods on May 27th. Find out more information here.

In this Call of the Wild entry, we will look at the perennial herb Bergamot or WILD Bee-Balm.

Bergamot or Bee-Balm (Monarda fistulosa)

 Bergamot is a perennial herb preferring sunny areas with moist or slightly dry soil. It usually grows about 0.5 m to over a metre in height, with pointed, ovate leaves varying in colour from light to dark green, with pink or lavender coloured flowers blooming in mid-summer.

Uses: Use fresh or dried leaves to season tomato dishes and herb breads, and as a substitute for sage in stuffing for poultry and meats, especially pork and veal. Bergamot adds a sage-like flavour to roasts. It is best to use the flowers for teas; the leaves have a hotter, oregano-like flavor. Enliven the look and taste of salads by adding a sprinkling of bergamot flowers.


Rosehip Bergamot Jelly

8 cups of rosehips

4 cups apple juice

½ cup of bergamot leaves and flower petals

4 cups sugar

1 package of pectin

Bring rosehips and apple juice to a boil strain out the rosehips. Add bergamot sugar and pectin and stir to dissolve. Reduce heat and let simmer until the flavours have fully blended. Pour into sterilized jars.


Lamb Shanks with Bergamot sauce

4 lamb shanks

¼ cup flour

½ teaspoon finely chopped bergamot leaves

1 cup home made chicken stock

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

6 tablespoons rosehip bergamot jelly

1 tablespoon cornstarch


Season the flour with salt, pepper and bergamot and roll the lamb shanks in the mixture. Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease a baking dish sized to accommodate the sauce added later. Bake the lamb for 2 hours. Combine the remaining ingredients in a sauce pot and simmer so the flavours blend. Remove the lamb from the oven. Drain the grease off, take the lamb out of the baking dish and pour the sauce into the baking dish. Stir the mixture around to get the browning off the bottom of the dish and blended into your sauce. Place the lamb back in the dish and bake for another 30 minutes. In a bowl, mix cornstarch and some sauce borrowed from the baking dish to make a rue. Remove the dish from the oven, set aside the lamb out of the dish for a moment, then pour the rue into the baking dish and stir to thicken. Place the lamb back in the dish and cook for another 10 minutes, then serve


Gooseberry & Bergamot Jelly

8 cups of gooseberries

2 cups water

½ cup of chopped bergamot leaves

3½ cups sugar

1 package of pectin

Bring bergamot leaves and gooseberries to a boil in the water. Add sugar and pectin and stir to dissolve. Reduce heat and let simmer until the flavours have fully blended. Strain the juice, using a fine strainer. Pour into sterilized jars.

Chili Chicken Salad with Bergamot

1 orange, thinly sliced

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

3 tablespoons minced fresh bergamot leaves

Pinch of ground cloves

1 green onion, minced

1 shallot, minced

¼ cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Flour tortillas or lettuce leaves for serving

Place chicken, orange and lemon slices in a shallow 10-inch frying pan. Fill with just enough water to cover the chicken, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid. When it’s cool enough to handle, use your fingers to shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. In a small dry skillet, heat the chili powder, cumin seed, and cloves over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 ½ minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and add the green onions, shallot, bergamot, yogurt, and lemon juice. Mix well, add the chicken, and toss well to combine. Serve at room temperature or very slightly chilled, rolled up in tortillas or lettuce leaves.


Bergamot Bread

1 package dry all-purpose yeast

¼ cup warm water

2 tablespoons butter

½ teaspoon honey

4 cups flour

1 cup bergamot flowers (the outer soft petals)

1 cup water at room temperature

1 egg white, slightly beaten

Dissolve yeast in warm water in mixing bowl. Add butter and honey and mix thoroughly. Add flour and flower petals. Knead the last of the flour/flowers mixture into the dough by hand. Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl, turning once to oil all surfaces. Cover with a damp towel; allow dough to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down, turning it on a lightly floured board and knead for 5 minutes. Divide dough in half and shape into two round loaves. Place loaves about 4 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet and cover with a damp towel. Allow to rise for 30 minutes. Brush top with beaten egg white and spread more bergamot blossoms that have been dipped in egg white over top of the bread. Bake loaves in a preheated oven at 400 °F for 45-50 minutes, or until lightly browned. This bread is best when allowed to rest in the refrigerator overnight.