Friday, May 29, 2009

Wild Greens from the Backyard: 4 Simple Recipes for Lamb's Quarters

Lamb's quarters were abundant in my family's backyard as a child. My grandfather pointed them out to us and gleefully took some into the house to be cooked and served for dinner. Since that time, I had been hesitant to try them again. But times and tastes have changed. Being a "locavore" is both frugal and trendy. When I told my daughters that this "weed" was edible, they were eager to harvest the young plants and eat them for dinner this week. Their reason was not that they are so "with the times"; they were just wide-eyed and curious.

Not wanting to poison anyone, I scouted for online recipes and tips. Basically, I found lamb's quarters can serve as a stand-in for spinach. The greens were easy to cook and incorporated easily into what we were having for dinner as well. So I added them to our lentil stew, deviled eggs, and served them as a stand-alone green vegetable. Everyone enjoyed them in at least one of the variations I offered.

Most of these lamb's quarter "recipes" do not list ingredient amounts. The dishes are simple enough that I trust that most cooks can make them by apportioning the ingredients themselves. Or just use your own favorite recipe and add the greens. Expect healthy, tasty results.

Lamb's Quarters with Garlic


-Young lamb's quarter plants, roots removed
-Garlic, minced
-Chicken or vegetable base, equivalent to amount of garlic used
-Vegetable or olive oil
-Salt, to taste

Saute garlic and lamb's quarters together over medium heat for several minutes. Add a small amount of chicken base (or vegetable base) and water. Continue to stir and saute until leaves are limp and tender. Add salt to taste if desired.

Deviled Eggs with Lamb's Quarters


-Hard-boiled eggs
-Mayonnaise (about 1/4 cup per 5 eggs)
-Vinegar or Mustard (to taste, about 1 teaspoon per 5 eggs)
-Ranch dressing, optional (about 1 teaspoon for 5 eggs)
-Salt, to taste
-Lamb's quarters, steamed or sauteed until tender(at least 4 leaves per egg)

1. Peel shells from eggs and wash to remove any bits of eggshell. Slice in half lengthwise. Remove yolks carefully, placing the yolks in a cereal bowl. Put the empty egg whites on a serving plate.
2. Use a fork to mash the egg yolks until fairly smooth. Add mayonnaise, mustard or vinger, ranch dressing (optional) and salt to taste. Add chopped lamb's quarters. Blend with fork until smooth.
3. Scoop the yolk mixture into portions and fill the empty egg whites. Serve at least two egg halves per person (5 whole eggs for 5 people).

Lentil Stew with Lamb's Quarters


1 cup lentils
5 cups water (add more if needed during cooking)
1 teaspoon chicken or vegetable base
2 sweet or mild Italian sausage links, cooked
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons oil
1 cup diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
1 cup unsweetened tomato sauce (I like Midwest County Fare Garlic and Herb Spaghetti sauce--it has no sugar, no corn syrup and no horrible tasting sucralose, AKA Splenda)
Italian seasoning, to taste
salt, to taste

1. Bring water and soup base to a boil and then simmer lentils for 30 minutes or until tender.
2. Meanwhile, saute minced garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes.
3. After lentils have fully cooked, add garlic, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes. Slice sausage. Add sausage and simmer until heated through.

The next day for lunch, I added the leftover lamb's quarters to the pasta salad I made. This was the result:

Pasta Salad with Salmon, Garden Vegetables, and Lamb's Quarters


- Pasta spirals, cooked and cooled
- Canned salmon, drained and skin removed
- Cucumber
- Carrots
- Lamb's Quarters, steamed or sauteed and coarsely chopped.
- Italian or Vinagrette Dressing (Drew's All Natural Italian Dressing is excellent)
- Mayonnaise
- Italian seasoning, to taste
- Salt, to taste

1. Peel cucumber and slice into thin rounds; cut rounds into quarter slices. Grate carrots or cut into thin matchstick-size pieces.
2. Combine pasta and salmon with cucumber and carrot pieces. Stir in chopped lamb's quarters, along with dressing and mayonnaise. Add Italian seasoning and salt to taste.

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