Vitalbe (clematis vitalba, traveller’s joy, old man’s beard) are one of the many plants that we forage here in Northern Le Marche. When you think of a clematis you probably visualize a cascade of big elegant flowers, not an omelette…

foraging-frittata-con-le-vitalbeTraveller’s joy is not as gifted as its cousins and only features small whiteish strudy flowers during late spring or summer depending on the climate. Moreover it’s probably one of the worse nightmares for anyone who wants to keep their shrubs and small trees nice and tidy… it’s a climber… no, it’s a mix between a climber and a giant science-fiction-like octopus that wraps up in anything nearby and smothers it.

vitalbe-autunnoBut… it’s a very useful plant (its strong and very long stems can be woven into baskets or used to used as ropes) and during the Autumn its beautiful thanks to the hairy (hence the name “old man’s beard) fruits.

And, here comes the foraging bit, its soft sprouts are edible and yummy!
You should only collect the tender tops, with just the first two leaves on them, since the rest of the plant is slightly toxic (if you are concerned about this think that parsley is also toxic but it depends on how much you eat!).

clematis-vitalbaSo, now you have the vitalbe, now you need to boil them until soft (add a bit of salt to the water) and then use them for a delicious omelette or frittata.

vitalbe-cotteI beat eggs with salt and pepper and a bit of milk and grated parmesan cheese, throw the vitalbe in and then prepare my frittata, but you can also skip all the addings and just do eggs, salt and vitalbe. A drop of organic extra vergin olive oil in the pan and you’ll be able to taste their pure slightly spinachy taste. ENJOY!

vitalbe-omeletteThis is often part of the appetizer at Locanda della Valle Nuova when in season, so come and taste it! If you are interested we can pick vitalbe together so that you see exactly how they look like and how much of it you should pick :)