My first crop of lambsquarters (chenopodium album) is ripe for picking. For the backyard forager, this is a real gift. There is no crop I could plant that would give me as much mass and nutrition as this one does, and I know I am guaranteed another few batches wherever the garden has been dug. Lambs quarters not only like the recently tilled soil of vegetable and flower gardens – they grow virtually everywhere, and if you think you are not familiar with them, it may be just because you overlooked them because they are so common. However, pick only from clean, uncontaminated areas.
I wrote about lambsquarters last year at this time, when I made a Barley and Lemon dish and outlined the health benefits and tried to give enough information to identify it safely. I will share again the photo from last year which is a good close-up.
And here is this year’s first patch.
It is easy enough to pick – just pluck off the tender tops and snip off leaves lower down if they are unblemished. Many people don’t like to eat them raw because of the fuzzy texture on the base of the leaves, but remember that when cooked, they will shrink just like spinach, so you will need a good amount.
They work in any recipe calling for spinach, although their flavour is a bit milder and therefore they benefit from additions of herbs and other strong flavoured ingredients. For that reason my spinach-inspired recipe, something very much like spanakopitas, contains not only lambsquarters and cheese but also a few young dandelion leaves and a generous bunch of mint. You can mix them with any seasonal greens, or use them on their own if you gather enough.
3/4 lb. lamsquarters + mixed greens
1 shallot, chopped fine
2 cloves of garlic, minced
juice of 1/2 lemon
200 grams feta cheese, crumbled
ground pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 lb phyllo pastry
olive oil for frying and brushing on pastry (about 1/2 cup all together)
Fry the shallot in 3 Tbsp of olive oil. When cooked, but not browned, add the minced garlic, pepper and nutmeg.
Wash the greens. If using greens other than lambsquarters, chop the larger leaves so they may be evenly distributed among the mixture.
Add all the greens to the frying pan, lower the heat and cover. Stir once in a while so everything gets cooked evenly. This will take only about five minutes until all the greens look cooked.
Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice and the cheese. Allow to cool slightly and add one beaten egg.
To make the triangles, cut the phyllo into strips about 3 inches wide. Be sure to cover the rest of the phyllo with a damp cloth, as it really does dry out quickly. Brush the strip lightly with oil.
Place a generous teaspoon of the mixture on one of the bottom corners and fold the pastry lengthwise in half, covering the filling. If the pastry has been folded left to right, take the bottom right corner of the pastry and draw it towards the left hand edge. Then take the left hand corner and draw it to the right. See photo following the recipe for clarification.
When rolled to the end, you should have a neat triangle. If the pastry rips a little in the process, not to worry. The folding will cover it up.
Brush the top lightly with oil and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until crisp and golden.
I am sharing this at this week’s Fiesta Friday. I know some of the guests have been doing some foraging, but for those who haven’t tried yet, these flaky pastries filled with wild garden greens are just the encouragement you might need to get out and enjoy the weeds!
May 30, 2014 at 9:28 pm
I have never heard of lambsquarters…these look good! Fun addition to FF!
May 30, 2014 at 10:05 pm
It’s the first time that I have come across lamb quarters and I thought oh a recipe with lamb. Then I saw Hilda on top of the recipe and clicked. I am glad that I did and didn’t let go thinking meat :). You are super awesome :).
May 30, 2014 at 10:56 pm
Thanks. I’m glad you did too.
May 30, 2014 at 10:59 pm
This really might help me get over my mental block and eat more “weeds.” Must check for lambs quarters in the yard. Thx for the inspiration!
May 31, 2014 at 4:51 am
Maybe if you just think of them as something other than weeds, that will help. We ate them quite a bit as children, though in rather boring ways, so it seems quite normal for me. I just like to think of new ways to prepare them.
May 31, 2014 at 12:33 am
Why ever are they called that? Interesting greens, makes me so curious, I am going to look it up now. Love this take on the dish. I would forage if I had a place to do it! I’m afraid all I have are some herbs on my sill.
May 31, 2014 at 4:49 am
The name comes from ‘lammas quarter’, an old harvest festival in England (9th C). Maybe you’ll find some place to forage somewhere near a ravine or some wooded area. There are lots of foraging groups in cities, but unfortunately none I know of out in our neck of the woods.
May 31, 2014 at 1:27 am
So interesting! Can you describe the flavor of lambs quarters?
May 31, 2014 at 4:44 am
Just a kind of mild green flavour, a bit like spinach. That’s why I like to mix them with other things. The texture
May 31, 2014 at 9:58 pm
Sounds like something I would like!
May 31, 2014 at 3:54 am
They look so good, Hilda 🙂 It reminds me Boureks!
June 1, 2014 at 8:28 pm
I am going to have to go look in my back yard! If it’s that nutritious, why waste it! And I love how you’ve used them in these tasty packages, Hilda! They look gorgeous and I know taste just as good!
June 2, 2014 at 5:23 am
Hilda, I always learn so much from your posts! I have never heard of lambs quarters – and I don’t think I have ever seen them. I’m sure they are very tasty if you made them, though. Thanks so much for bringing them and for teaching me something new!
June 2, 2014 at 5:33 am
Thanks. You may know them by other names – sometimes called pigweed, and often not called anything at all. I think they were commonly eaten by the generation that lived through the depression, but forgotten soon after.
June 2, 2014 at 8:28 am
lamb quarters? pig weed? wow! I gotta seek this out… great looking parcels.. thanks for bringing them to FF18!
Pingback: Fiesta Friday #18 | The Novice Gardener
June 3, 2014 at 12:00 am
Hi hilda I had never heard of lambs quarters before! You are such an amazing gardener and cook! That’s just perfect since you can cook fresh from the garden! And thanks so much for the step wise pictures! I always wanted to know how to make triangle samosa like shapes with phyllo sheets! 🙂
June 3, 2014 at 12:09 am
Thanks. Glad you found it helpful. I hadn’t made them before, but I found it much easier than I had imagined. And yes, fresh from the garden gets kind of addictive.
June 3, 2014 at 12:38 am
Are lambsquarters available in grocers?Would love to try it!
June 10, 2014 at 1:44 pm
never thought it’s eatable!!!!
Pingback: Lambsquarters and Farro Burgers | Along the Grapevine
Pingback: Lambsquarter Samosas | Along the Grapevine
Pingback: Kuku Sabzi | Along the Grapevine