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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Lambsquarter Samosas

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I have written about lambsquarters ( chenopodium album ) in previous posts, and as I practice what I preach, I do use these super greens throughout the season – and even freeze and dry them for use in the winter. They can be used in any recipe calling for spinach, so there is really no need to compile too many recipes for it on the blog. But at this time of year, it is worth remembering that this plant is widely available, easy to harvest, and well worth the bother. For cooked dishes, I actually prefer it to spinach as it has a nicer texture and more flavour. I use it in savoury pies, quiches, stir fries, soups – in short, I use it a lot.

If allowed to grow, they can grow very tall, and if the soil is good they will continue to produce a deep green leaf with no blemishes. I have some beautiful patches, all grown in rich organic soil. Just remember not to pick it in any contaminated soil as it can absorb nitrates. Also, if using raw, it is advisable to add lemon to neutralize the oxalic acid.

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I decided to try making a variation of samosas. Normally I make these with carrots, potatoes, peas and spices, but using what I have available in the garden at the moment meant something greener.

So a green curry paste with lots of greens mixed in, and a simple samosa dough which is super elastic and easy to work with.

Just fry some chopped onions and potatoes.

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Add the spices, herbs and greens.

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Roll out the dough, cut and place a spoonful of mixture on top.

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Roll up samosa style, and bake.

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Lambsquarter Samosas


For the pastry

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp oil

3/4 – 1 cup of water

Mix the flour, salt and oil thoroughly. Gradually add the water until the dough holds together. Cover and chill for about an hour. Roll very thin, and cut into circles to make the samosas.

For the Filling

oil for frying

1 onion, chopped

1 new potato, chopped and unpeeled

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Tbsp green curry paste

2 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped

1 Tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

1 cup peas or green beans, chopped into small bits

1 cup steamed lambsquarters

salt and pepper to taste

Fry the onion and potato until the potato is cooked. Add the garlic, cury paste and herbs and fry 2 minutes longer. Add the peas, cooked lambsquarters, salt and pepper and cook another minute, stirring to combine everything well. Allow to cool.

To fill, place a spoonful of filling on a circle of dough about 3 inches in diameter.

Press together the opposite sides from the middle to the end, forming a cone shape. Then pull up the base of the open part to join the first seam, creating another seam perpendicular to the first one.

Place samosas on a parchment lined baking tray and bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes.

Mine are a little dark because I used Red Fife flour, but if you want them a lighter, more golden colour, use all purpose flour.

Samosas are excellent with a tamarind chutney, but as I am using local ingredients, I made a dipping sauce with crabapple paste mixed with enough vinegar to make a thick sauce, a little cumin and some methi (dried fenugreek leaves) sprinkled on top.

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I served it with a cabbage salad, cucumbers garnished with lemon balm and raita made with fresh mint and purslane.

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They can be served hot or not, as an appetizer, part of a meal, or just a healthful snack when you have been out exerting yourself, which in my case means ripping out masses of weeds, including lambsquarters. By the way, the weeds are doing very well this summer.

Linked to Fiesta Friday #78.

Related posts: Barley with Lemon and Lambsquarters;  Lambsquarters Triangles;   Lambsquarters and Farro Burgers


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Lambsquarters and Farro Burgers

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I have just begun to cook with farro, and my trials so far have given such good results that it will no doubt replace barley, rice and other grains for many of my recipes. It has a nutty, sweet flavour with a pleasantly chewy texture. The fact that it is higher in protein and fibre than wheat is another good reason to choose this grain.

Although it has been around longer than any other cultivated grain, it is relatively new in the North American market, and there is still some confusion about it. Related to spelt, it is sometimes lumped in with this grain. The botanical name for spelt is Triticum Spelta, while farro (emmer) is Triticum Dicoccum, so there is a difference.

My latest recipe mixes farro with one of my favourite greens, another ancient superfood, lambsquarters.

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If you don’t have as much as I do, you can use part or all of other greens like kale or spinach. For the herbs, I used green and red basil and mint, but use whichever mixture you prefer.

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And so I bring to Fiesta Friday 21 an original, vegan burger I hope you will enjoy.

Lambsquarters and Farro Burgers

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

1 cup raw farro

2 cups water

4 cups lambsquarters

1 Tbsp chia seeds, soaked in 2 Tbsp water

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bunch chopped herbs

1 shallot, chopped

2 Tbsp hemp hearts (optional)

3 Tbsp chickpea or other flour

1/2 tsp salt

To prepare the farro, soak it in water overnight or for a few hours. Then cook it as you would rice. This will take 10-15 minutes.

Steam the lambsquarters, or other greens, until they are nicely wilted with just a little water. If there is any excess water, drain it off (and use it for cooking the farro).

Chop the greens and mix all the other ingredients together.

Form into patties and fry in a little oil of your choice on a medium heat, approximately 10 minutes on each side.

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23 Comments

Lambsquarters Triangles

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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.

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And here is this year’s first patch.

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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.

Lambsquarters

  • Servings: 36 pieces
  • Print

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 egg

1 lb phyllo pastry

olive oil for frying and brushing on pastry (about 1/2 cup all together)

Method

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.

 

Dandelion Gin Fizz on Punk Domestics

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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!

 

 


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Lambsquarters

Lambsquarters
Chenopodium album, meaning white goose foot, related to spinach, rhubarb, beets and chard, known as lambsquarters, pigweed and a number of other names, grows in all gardens in this area – anywhere that soil has been turned. Of all the weeds I pull in my vegetable and flower gardens, fully half of them must be this weed. So if cleaning your garden means you have some healthful and tasty vittels for dinner, you kill two birds with one stone.
Like so many overlooked wild plants, this one is full of good stuff: niacin, folate, iron, magnesium and phosphorus and, even more, dietary fibre, protein, vitamins A, B6 and C, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, potassium, copper and manganese. If you are still not convinced that this is worth eating, it is a great substitute for spinach, at no cost, and if you pick it in an unpoluted garden free of chemicals and contaminants, probably better than spinach.
If you know how to cook spinach, there is no real need for recipes. Young shoots can be used in salads, and as the plant ages, just pick the leaves off the sturdy stem (discard any blemished ones), rinse well and use as you would spinach.
This recipe I am sharing is one that requires a little more effort than sauteing or steaming, but I think highlights the rich green colour and delicate flavour of the plant. It could also be made with rice, as you would a risotto.
If my pictures are not enough to help you identify it, there are plenty of pictures and descriptions available on the internet, and if you are still not sure if you have it in your garden, check with someone familiar with local weeds – there must be one somewhere near you.
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Barley with Lemon and Lambsquarters

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1 cup barley

1 1/2 cup water or vegetable stock

grated rind of one lemon

2 cloves minced garlic

1 Tbsp. mint

1 Tbsp. parsley

1 tsp. salt

4 cups lambsquarters, leaves only.

Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion until soft, but not browned. Add the barley and fry for a couple of minutes, being sure to coat all the barley with oil. Add the garlic and fry for another minute. Stir in the herbs, salt and grated lemon peel. Pour 1/2 cup of the water or stock and stir the mixture occasionally until most of the water has been absorbed. Continue to add water, 1/2 cup at a time. When the last addition of water is made, add the lambsquarters and mix  well until there is no more liquid visible.