The Invasive Species Cookbook

Instead of eating something from your local supermarket, why not eat a species that is causing harm to the natural environment, and with your meal make a positive contribution?

Non-native species have been introduced to the UK over thousands of years. Sometimes this has been deliberate, for social or economic reasons such as forestry, agriculture and horticulture. Sometimes, however, the introduction occurs by accident. The introduction of non-native species is rising sharply due to the increase in trade, transport, travel and tourism. World globalisation has offered species new pathways and increased opportunities to establish in new areas.

Invasive non-native species have an impact on biodiversity by displacing or preying upon native species or by destroying habitats. The most direct implications are the threats of predation on, and competition with, native species. Invasive non-native species (INNS) are recognised as one of the main causes of global biodiversity loss and current evidence demonstrates that this is a problem which is increasing.

Eating edible non-native invasive species such as rabbit can offer a free range, sustainable and environmentally sensitive food source that can be quite tasty and can be prepared in a myriad of ways, an instant culinary reward for taking an interest in the environment and promoting the restoration of native species. 

Rabbit and Bean Stew

  • 2 rabbits cut into pieces
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 6 rashers of streaky bacon chopped
  • 1 large glass of red wine
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tins of cannelloni beans
  • 2 table spoons of maple syrup
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 Large bunch of thyme
  1. Add the rabbit pieces to the pan and brown off before setting aside to add later. 
  2. In a little olive oil sweat the carrot, onion, garlic and bacon or approximately 10 minutes until soft. 
  3. Add the red wine and bring to the boil. 
  4. Add the tomatoes, cannelloni beans, maple syrup and herbs to the pot and bring to the boil before adding the rabbit pieces. Simmer for between 1 and 1.5 hours stirring occasionally. Season and serve.

Rabbit Paella

  • 170g/6oz chorizo, cut into thin slices
  • 1 whole rabbit cleaned and cut into pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp soft thyme leaves
  • ¼ tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • 570ml/1pint calasparra (Spanish short-grain) rice
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 125ml/4fl oz dry white wine
  • 1.2 litres/2 pints chicken stock, heated with ¼ tsp saffron strands
  • 110g/4oz fresh or frozen peas
  • 4 large tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
  • 125ml/4fl oz good olive oil
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 5 tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat half the olive oil in a dish or heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the rabbit pieces; cook and stir until nicely browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Heat half the olive oil in a paella dish or heavy-based saucepan. Add the chorizo and fry until crisp. Add the chopped garlic, onion and heat until softened. Add the thyme, chilli flakes, garlic cloves and calasparra rice, and stir until all the grains of rice are nicely coated and glossy. Now add the paprika and dry white wine and when it is bubbling, pour in the hot chicken stock, add the rabbit pieces and cook for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle in the peas and chopped tomatoes and peas and continue to cook gently for another 10 minutes.
  4. Scatter the chopped parsley over the paella and serve immediately.
Stewart Parsons