Along the Grapevine


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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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Ramps (Wild Leeks) Omelette

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Where we live is well-known by many in Ontario for its abundance of Allium Tricoccum, otherwise known as ramps, wild leeks or wild garlic. Until this year, I never knew where to find them, and worried that if I did, I would be contributing to the over-harvesting I hear is threatening their survival. In fact, they have been so popular in some places that they are considered an endangered species and collecting them is restricted. Even where such restrictions do not apply, it is advisable to restrict oneself in public areas. So when invited by a friend to go foraging on her property where they grow rampant, and no other foragers compete, I couldn’t resist.

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They usually grow in woody areas, in clumps which are rooted firmly near the surface. Their broad, smooth leaves, often with a burgundy rim on the lower stems, and a scallion-like stem and bulb make them easy to identify, but if unsure, just rub a little of the leaf between your fingers and take a whiff – they have a distinct garlic-onion smell. The entire plant is edible, and the green part much more tender than the cultivated leek. To avoid over-harvesting, it is possible to pick just the leaf – one or two from each plant.

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Ramps are easily used in any recipe calling for scallions, and go particularly well with eggs. For my first dish I prepared an omelette by lightly sauteing 100 grams of whole leeks with 1 minced clove of garlic in 2 Tbsp of olive oil. I added to that a mixture of 6 eggs, 50 grams (or 1/2 cup) freshly grated parmesan and 6 Tbsp of cold water. Once cooked almost through on one side, I placed it under a broiler on a rack about 8 inches from the element until the top was done.

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If you don’t live in a wild leek area, or choose not to go foraging, you might find some ramps on sale at your local farmers’ market or a grocer’s. They won’t be around for long, so get them while you can. They can be frozen after only air drying or steaming lightly so that you can enjoy them later in the year.

Ramps (Wild Leeks) Omelette on Punk Domestics