Along the Grapevine


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From Lawn to Table

Even in times of drought such as we are currently experiencing in this area, the wild greens are flourishing and there for the picking. Our vegetable gardens are still struggling, and as I am not a keen shopper I am happy that our lawn is such a great provider. This recipe is another example of what you can do with some of those nutritious, albeit pesky weeds. And if you don’t have such a lawn, you can find all these in any good foraging spots such as meadows, hedgerows and abandoned areas – even in the city.

The main ingredient for this is lambsquarters. This particular weed is most prolific, and as I tidy up my vegetable plots I still have to throw out the bulk of it. I have taken to drying it for use in the winter – in the dehydrator, the oven (at a very low temperature) and even on the dashboard of any vehicle parked in the sun, the most economical method of all. But be careful – vehicles can get really hot, so I had to stir them every hour or so to prevent from burning.

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I also used young goutweed leaves (top left) to give it a herbal flavour, and some plantain (on the right). The lambsquarters are below the goutweed. At the last minute, after taking this shot, I added dandelion leaves.

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All these mixed with some seasonings and topped with eggs made for an easy, inexpensive and super nutritious meal – and yes, even delicious! You can add more spices and herbs as you choose, and mix and match whichever wild greens you have growing. This is how I did it.

Foraged Greens and Eggs

Ingredients

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Tbsp chopped green chili pepper

1 tsp cumin powder

salt and pepper to taste

4 cups lambsquarters

1/2 cup goutweed leaves (only the young ones from plants which have not yet flowered)

a handful of dandelion leaves

1/2 cup plantain leaves

4 eggs

Method

If using plantain, boil it in water for four minutes, drain and set aside. It is tougher than the other greens and will blend with them better if cooked longer.

Fry the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and chili and fry another couple of minutes. Add the cumin, salt and pepper. Add enough water to the pan just to barely cover the bottom of the pan. Stir in all the greens and cook at medium heat until they have all wilted completely and the water has evaporated. Break four eggs on top of the mixture, cover the pot with a lid and allow to simmer for about 4 minutes, or until the eggs have cooked sufficiently. Remove from the heat and serve. I sprinkled a little sumac powder on top for garnish.

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Linked to Fiesta Friday #129; The Not So Creative Cook and Faith, Hope, Love and Luck.


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Chimichurri and Goutweed

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I hesitate to put the word ‘goutweed’ in the title of a recipe, but there’s no way around it. That’s what it’s called, and to give it a more appetizing name might just confuse everyone. So here it is, Goutweed chimichurri.

First, I should explain what goutweed (aegopodium podagraria) is, although most gardeners in this area are very familiar with it – even if not by name. Although for most considered an invasive weed, It is a plant still sold at nurseries for landscaping, especially the variegated ones which really are pretty used as a border or ground cover. But be careful because once planted it can NEVER be eradicated, and just keeps spreading and crowding out anything around it.

I happen to have inherited some in my garden, so I make the most of it, and still pull out as much as I can. At this time of year I am busy digging up bushels of weeds, so I was pleased to find that goutweed leaves and stems are edible, especially when young and tender and always before it flowers. Where it has been cut back, I get a steady supply of new growth which can be picked right into the fall. It has many medicinal uses, including traditionally the treatment of gout and arthritis, but has been used in Europe as a salad ingredient and pot herb. It has become naturalised throughout most of North America as well as Japan and New Zealand.

The variegated leafed plants are easiest to identify with their creamy white and pale green patterns. When allowed to spread uncontrollably, they will revert to a solid, darker green. The leaves grow in groups of three, and have pointed, serrated leaves. The veins on the leaves extend right to the end of the leaf, unlike the poison hemlocks of the same family (apeaceae) whose veins end between the teeth of the plant. The flowers which appear in mid-summer are small five-petalled flowers on tall stems. Another characteristic of this plant is that they grow from rhizomes – not edible.

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While the young leaves are good raw, tasting to me something like a cross between parsley and carrot with a hint of celery, the older leaves are good cooked in soups and vegetable mixtures. I decided to use it as a substitute for parsley in a chimichurri which I learned to make years ago when I lived in Argentina. Since that time, this simple condiment has made it around the world and undergone many changes. I wanted to make something as close as possible to what I remember having way back when but without the parsley.

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Goutweed Chimichurri 

1 cup young goutweed leaves and stems

1/2 cup fresh oregano

2 large cloves of garlic

1/4 cup vinegar (cider or white wine)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup olive oil

If using a food processor, simply blend all together. Otherwise, chop the greens and the garlic very fine and stir in the vinegar, salt and oil.

Serve as an accompaniment to grilled meat and/or vegetables, or as a spread on crackers or toast.

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Chimichurri and Goutweed on Punk Domestics

Linked to Fiesta Friday #88.