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 dishes—think quiche and soup, for starters—anything 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
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.)