sautéed lambsquarters with lemon

Last week, my cousin-neighbor watched a couple of my kids while I did Something Or Other. When I picked them up, she said, “We planted a cover crop of lambsquarters. Would you like some?” And then she handed me a grocery store bag packed full of weeds.

I wasn’t completely thrilled, I must admit. Weeds sounded rather sub par. Inferior. Like trashy real greens. But I said Sure, and How do you cook them, and then I took the bag home and stuffed it in the crisper where I mostly forgot about it for several days.

But then Sunday noon rolled around. I was heating up leftover rice and chicken (a meal that I will be telling you about in very short order because it is THE BEST CHICKEN EVER), had pulled some na’an out of the freezer (a little shop in town sells real na’an, not that fake stuff Costco sells), and was fishing around for a vegetable that wasn’t green beans when I remembered the weeds.

What the heck, I thought, and grabbed a big handful of weeds and commenced a-plucking leaves from stalks. My hands got sandy-gritty from the leaf fuzz (though the plants didn’t seem that dirty), so I gave them a good washing and salad-spinner spinning before tossing them in a skillet along with some sizzling butter. The weeds cooked down lickety split. I sprinkled them with salt, gave them a hearty drizzle of lemon, and you know what? They were fabulous. Texture-wise, they’re like a cross between tender spinach and baby kale and something else…maybe celery leaves? Flavor-wise, they’re like any other mild-tasting, sweet green: utterly delicious.

We feasted on those weeds all week long. I cooked them up to eat alongside our beans and rice, and another time I threw a couple large handfuls of the chopped leaves into a pot of soupy beans, spinach, and salsa. I sautéed a bunch to use as a stuffing for a light sushi supper. And last night I cooked up the very last of the weeds and stuffed them into spicy pork-and-feta tortilla wraps.

Lambsquarters would be a splendid addition to countless dishesthink quiche and soup, for startersanything that calls for cooked greens, really. Packed with protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin C, A, B1, and B2, they are super healthy, even more so, in some regards, than spinach and cabbage.

Moral of the story: If someone ever offers you a bag of weeds, snatch those babies up.

Sautéed Lambsquarters with Lemon

a large bowl of lambsquarters
1 tablespoon butter
lemon wedges

Pluck the leaves from the thicker stems (just because they can be a little tough), but don’t bother to separate out the tender baby stems. Wash well and spin dry.

Sizzle a pat of butter in a skillet and then toss in a great mountain of the weeds. Push them around for 1-2 minutes until wilted and dark green. Sprinkle with coarse salt and lemon juice. Serve hot.

Add skillet-cooked (or steamed) greens to any number of soups and pots of beans.

Note: my cousin-neighbor said not to eat the lambsquarters raw. I can’t remember why, and since I didn’t taste them raw myself, I don’t know. Maybe because of the fuzzy texture? Or perhaps they have a bitter flavor? (Oh wait. Right here it says that the leaves have oxalic acid which can make your throat burn. So there you go.)

This same time, years previous: after one year: Costco reflections, finding my answers, the quotidian (5.20.13), up at the property, the boring blues, and fowl-ness.


    • Jennifer Jo

      Yes! Just defrost it at room temp and then give it a good misting of water while reheating it on a big skillet or in a hot oven. It's not as good as fresh but TOTALLY passable.

  • Margo

    I wonder if I could identify this properly in my yard. I'm pretty sure I have lots of chickweed, which I keep throwing away instead of eating. But I just have to make sure I've got the real thing and not some weed that will make us sick. I'm so handicapped by modern life!!

  • Becky

    I've been throwing any green I can get my hands on into everything lately. I need to look to see if I have any lambsquarters growing out there.
    Where is this naan? I must track it down!

    • Jennifer Jo

      The na'an is sold from Save and Prosper in Harrisonburg. They keep it in a stack by the register. About $2.50 for five large pieces. Made fresh daily. (It comes from Kani's Mediterranean Bakery, behind the mall on Neff Ave.)

  • Crystal

    I'm glad you enjoyed them. I'd be happy to collect another bag for you! By the way, we didn't plant them. They grow like a cover crop in our garden!

  • Mama Pea

    Yep, I have a recipe for Lambsquarter Quiche that is yummy. And the lovely little green is free! And you don't have to plant it. (Unless you want to hunt 'em down and transplant them into the garden as Zoe above did! I think the effort would be worth it.)

  • Zoë

    This is funny. A few weeks ago I transplanted a lambsquarter plant (to be at a better spot) and thought eh, let's give this a go! Now I'm thinking I should transplant a few more and make a row!

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