Edible Soil 2.330

Mette Randem for The Washington Post

Gastronomer Feb 23, 2011

This can be made with almost any ingredients you want, as long as the result is the same: a mixture of edible items that resembles soil. It is an outlandish, or at least unexpected, thing to have on the table, especially when small vegetable or herb shoots are placed in the mixture. The best approach is to have people believe it is a part of the table decoration and then persuade them to eat it.

It is simple to make; just blend until you achieve the desired texture. A dish called Edible Earth has been served at the Nordic restaurant Noma in Copenhagen for years and has become one of the signature dishes there.

The mixture can have any flavor at all; you just want the finished product to look like soil. Here, Gastronomer Andreas Viestad sticks to a simple mixture of bread, mushrooms, onions, olives and nuts that, when mixed together, has an earthy taste with a sweet note. In the original recipe in "Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking," caramel color and barley malt powder are used.

Serve in small glass containers so you can see the texture of the "soil."

Make Ahead: The mixture can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Servings: 2.33 cups
  • 2 tablespoons dark raisins
  • 1/4 cup mixed nuts
  • 1/4 cup salted smoked almonds
  • 5 ounces (2 thin slices) black bread
  • 1/2 cup crushed dark crispbreads, such as Wasa Hearty (about 7 half-crackers; may substitute toasted bread crumbs)
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons dehydrated onion
  • 2 tablespoons black olive paste, or more to taste
  • Pumpkin seed oil (optional)
  • Fresh shoots of vegetables and herbs, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Place the raisins, mixed nuts, smoked almonds and black bread on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes; the bread should be crisp on top. Turn off the oven and let the ingredients cool thoroughly. The raisins should dry to a hardened state. Coarsely chop the mixed nuts and almonds.

Tear the bread into bite-size pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor, along with the dried raisins, mixed nuts, almonds, crispbreads, dried porcini mushrooms and dried onion. Pulse to form a fairly even, coarse mixture. Add the olive paste, and pulse so the mixture resembles soil in color and consistency. If desired, drizzle in a little pumpkin seed oil and pulse to incorporate.

Divide the mixture among small glass serving containers. Arrange small edible shoots in the containers so they seem to be growing in the soil.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking," by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young and Maxime Bilet (The Cooking Lab, 2011).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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