Please pass the weeds

Get even with weeds by eating them!

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Dandelion, chickweed, purslane and lamb's quarters are common greens that are used, and enjoyed in some regions of the USA, as well as in other countries. In fact, in some countries Sorrel and Lamb's Quarter, a cousin to the Quinoa, are purposely grown, such as on the Indian Sub-Continent.

When you use weeds, and I very much encourage you to do so, just make sure that, if you forage for them in the wild, they have not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.

Toss dandelion flowers into a green salad for a touch of color and flavor! Use the young leaves as you would rocket (arugula) or cook alder leaves into a spinach dish. And that is not even all that you can do with the humble dandelion.

The Greek have a dish called “horta” which often contains edible weeds rather than garden greens, mainly dandelion leaves and those of the stinging nettle, boiled like spinach. In fact, more or less, any edible weed can go into this dish.

The Asian community from the Indian Sub-Continent grow some plants that we would regard as (edible) weeds on purpose, including on their allotments in Britain such as goosefoot, aka lamb's quarter, and also sorrel.

Last year I saw many people taking the seed heads from the sorrel (Rumex acetosa) home from the park. So much so that there were no seed heads left on any of the plants that are growing in the pinetum of the park to be found afterward.

The majority of those that took those seed heads were from the Asian community and I am certain that they took them in order to sow sorrel in their gardens to grow for food. And I know that this is not the only wild plant that those folks will “cultivate” in their gardens for use in their diet. Should this not give us some food for thought?

Sorrel can be and is being used as spinach of the cut-and-come-again type; chickweed as a pot herb and also goes well with chopped egg as a substitute for salad cress in sandwich filling, when combined with a good mayonnaise.

Goosefoot (Lamb's Quarter or Fat Hen) can be used in a number of different ways: The leaves as a spinach substitute, the stems, especially when the plant, which can reach up to three feet in height, has grown well, steamed like asparagus, the flower head, before it goes to seed, as broccoli and the seeds themselves as quinoa.

And this is but a small list of edible weeds that can be used for and are good as food. Why waste a good resource and better still why throw them out of your garden when they are that good.

So, pass the weeds and don't pass up on the weeds.

© 2013