Saturday, May 16, 2009

Eat Your Weeds!

For years I've been pulling this annoying weed from my flower beds and garden. Little did I realize that Lambsquarters is not just a common weed, but that it's a delicious and highly nutritious green vegetable that can and should be enjoyed.

I first heard of lambsquarters when I read Victoria Boutenko's book, Green For Life. In this book she shares that wild edible greens, specifically lambsquarters, are some of THE most nutrient dense and essential food for human consumption. Lambsquarters is a close cousin to spinach, but far, far more nutritious. It has a mild, green flavor like our domestic greens. In fact it is a relative of Swiss chard, beets and a few exotic garden greens like orach, all in the Chenopodium family. The only other wild edibles that are also nutritional power houses are dandelion, watercress, and stinging nettles.

This best kept secret grows all over America in many different habitats from rich farm soils to barren stretches of desert terrain. It often grows in disturbed soils, close to humans rather than in remote places. It is very likely that you have some growing in your own yard or garden right now. It is also most likely that you've been weeding this one out every year, just like me.Lambsquarters not only grows nearly everywhere but it has a very long edible season. It's at its best around June, being a late spring arrival, and its young, tender leaves will be available for the rest of the growing season. And best of all, it's free for the picking! It's the perfect food for all you freegan-vegan-localvores!

Harvesting: As with any other wild plant, make sure that what you are picking is in fact edible. When in doubt, don't eat it! Also, be sure that your weeds have not been sprayed with any chemical compounds or that they haven't been growing near a busy highway. Even though I know the lambsquarter that has been growing in my yard is safe, I still like
to wash the leaves because they tend to have a powdery white substance on them that I don't care for. Once washed, spread the leaves out on dry paper towels, pat dry and store in the crisper drawer in your refrigerator if you're not going to use them immediately.

Lambsquarters can be used as a replacement for spinach in any recipe. It has endless versatility
and can be incorporated into green smoothies, juices, dips, dressings, sauces, salads, soups and main courses. Of course you need not tell your family or friends that you are serving them a platter of weeds for dinner! See the nutritional profile of lambsquarters here. Here are a few recipes that I look forward to making this weekend:

Lambsquarter Pesto
2 cups (packed) fresh lambsquarters leaves
2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
2 T fresh garlic
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup pine nuts (or less)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)

Put the greens into a food processor fited with the S-blade and pulse repeatedly until both are well chopped. Add garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice and nutritional yeast and blend until the nuts are finely chopped and mixture is well combined. With the lid on and processor running, drizzle olive oil in through the feeder tube until mixture is the consistency you prefer.

Lambsquarters & Kiwi Smoothie
4 very ripe kiwis
2 cups lambsquarters
1 frozen banana
2 cups water

Place all ingredients into a blender on high speed until smooth.

Lambsquarters Greek Salad
2 cups Lambsquarters greens
2 Cucumbers, sliced
2 tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely sliced
1/3 cup raw olives
2 teaspoons fresh oregano
(Try to use tender, young leaves for this salad)

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh herbs of choice (ex: dill, parsley, oregano)
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

Blend the dressing ingredients in a blender until smooth. Coat salad just before serving

blog comments powered by Disqus