Hostas are a common shade plant here in the northeast, and they’re known for their lush glossy foliage and stunning flower spikes. They’re one of the few plants that thrives in full shade, creating a beautiful landscape where most flowers won’t grow. Now there’s one more reason to plant this shade perennial…hostas are edible!
They were originally a wild foraged spring green in Japan, in the same way that fiddleheads and ramps are enjoyed in the states. Somehow, when hostas made the trek across the pacific to become a landscape shrub, the fact that they’re a sought after edible plant got lost in translation.
If you’re curious about the history of this fun plant, and a few promising studies looking at the medicinal properties of hostas, check out this article on how to cook edible hostas.
In the early spring, the shoots taste like a cross between asparagus and leeks, with a mild sweet subtly onion-y green flavor. They’re particularly good as simple oven roasted bacon wrapped hostas, or in a wild greens stir fry alongside other spring wild foraged edibles.
Later on in the season, full grown hosta leaves can be cooked like collards or kale. As the flowers start to emerge, you can cook hosta flower buds and then the fully opened blossoms are tasty edible flowers (raw or cooked).
Though they’re edible throughout the season, my favorite time to enjoy hostas is in the early spring when they first emerge from the soil. At that point, they’re tender and sweet, and I use them in place of asparagus in just about any recipe. I’m particularly fond of quiche and tarts, since they’re simple to prepare and spring is a busy time of year at my house.
The base is a simple pie crust, and I generally make it with 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, a pinch of salt and a splash of cold water. Feel free to use your favorite pie crust recipe for a single crust pie, or get a pre-made pie crust from the store. If you’re feeling adventurous (of course you are, you’re about to cook hostas, right?) then go ahead and try this sourdough pie crust or this old fashioned pie crust with egg and vinegar.
This hosta shoot tart comes together quickly and is beautiful too.
Hosta Shoot Tart Recipe
• 6 to 8 young hosta shoots, about 4 to 6 inches
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
• 1 unbaked pie or pastry crust
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Toss the hostas in olive oil and roast them in the oven for about 8-10 minutes until they just begin to caramelize. Remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool.
3. Place the unbaked pie crust in a tart pan. Top with parmesan cheese. Gently place the hostas on top of the cheese in the tart shell.
4. Beat eggs, milk and heavy cream together and pour the egg/cream mixture over the hostas in the tart.
5. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until the egg is cooked through and begins to brown.
6. Serve hot or cold.
Ashley lives in a solar and wind powered home in Vermont with her husband and two young children. She writes about gardening, foraging, DIY, home brewing and all things off-grid at Practical Self Reliance and shares recipes from her Vermont kitchen on Adamant Kitchen. You can find pictures of her homestead adventures on Instagram, or follow along on Facebook pages for Practical Self Reliance and Adamant Kitchen. She’s also on Twitter.