A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post bemoaning my crazy weed problem this year…
I posted a few pictures of my garden which is buried under an abnormally thick, healthy, layer of weeds.
Anyway, a bunch of you offered many helpful suggestions in the comments and also by email. (Yes, I definitely plan to use mulch next year, by the way…)
Several of you also mentioned that, judging by this photo, you thought some of my weeds may be Lamb’s Quarters.
I have had a vague notion in the past that that’s what I had growing. They are one of the thickest weeds in my garden, so I’m used to seeing (and pulling) quite a few. However, I’m sad to say that I never really spent the time to research them.
So, at the prompting of a few of my lovely readers, I decided to solve the big question once and for all. I pulled up a couple specimens, brought them in the house, and spent some time looking at photos online.
It didn’t take long to figure out that—without doubt— I do indeed have a healthy crop of Lamb’s Quarters growing in my garden!
I’ve been anxious to get some revenge on my out-of-control weeds this year, so what better way to do that than to eat them?
I quickly announced to my husband that our menu had changed for the night. Instead of steak, pasta, and frozen green beans for supper, we were having steak, pasta, and Lamb’s Quarters.
skeptical er, tolerant…
I raced out to the garden while my pasta was boiling and plucked off a colander-full of leaves from the younger, more tender plants.
After bringing them inside and giving them a good wash, I plopped them in a few inches of boiling water, and let them cook until they were a little bit limp and a lovely shade of dark green.
A sprinkle of salt and pepper, and a pat of butter (because everything is better with butter), they were ready to serve.
The consensus? Not bad… Not bad at all!
To be honest, we aren’t real big eaters of plain cooked greens at our house anyway (I usually prefer them raw in salads, or mixed in other dishes), but these were very edible.
They were fairly mild with a nice spinach-y taste. Hubby said he’d eat them again– and that is saying a lot!
I’m thinking that my lovely crop of Lamb’s Quarters just might replace my spinach in the garden each year. I usually have trouble getting much of a spinach harvest anyway, since the heat always causes it to quickly bolt. Why struggle with spinach when I have a plentiful wild crop that will work just as well?
So, just in case any of you out there are also “fighting” a crop of Lamb’s Quarters, here are some tips and recipe ideas to help you turn that annoying weed into a nutritious member of your homestead garden!
All About Lamb’s Quarter
- Before eating any “weed” from your yard, please be very, very certain that you have identified it correctly. Even if that means going the extra mile to double-check with an expert, PLEASE use caution when foraging from your homestead. Many weeds are delicious. Others can be deadly.
- Be certain that any “weeds” you are consuming have not been sprayed with pesticides.
- Lamb’s Quarters is also known as pigweed, goosefoot, and wild spinach.
- The leaves somewhat resemble a webbed foot (hence the name “goosefoot”) and it usually looks like it is covered in a powdery, white coating.
- During the Great Depression, Lamb’s Quarters was enjoyed and foraged by many families.
- It was also used as sheep, chicken, and pig feed, hence the name “pigweed.”
- Lamb’s Quarters is incredibly nutritious. It’s packed full of good stuff- you can find nutritional info HERE.
- Like many other greens, Lamb’s Quarter contains amounts of oxalic acid. Because oxalic acid can interfere with mineral absorption, there is some debate as to whether people should consume large amounts of raw greens (it’s not an issue once they are cooked or steamed). I personally don’t worry about it too much since I don’t eat large quantities, but if it concerns you, just lightly steam your Lamb’s Quarters before consuming.
- Choose the stems and leaves from younger plants. They will be the most tender.
- The seed heads that the plant produces later in the season are edible as well. Lamb’s Quarters is related to quinoa, which is clearly visible once you see the seeds.
How to Eat Lamb’s Quarters
- Basically just use it anywhere you would use spinach. It’s an excellent substitute.
- Lightly steam it and serve with salt, pepper, and butter.
- Throw some in your stir fry a few minutes before it’s done.
- Use it in soups (I’m dying to try it in this Zuppa Tuscana recipe!)
- Mix a handful or two into your fresh green salad.
- Use in Italian-style recipes like lasagna or stuffed shells.
- Mix it with some cheeses (ricotta or parmesan) and use it to fill pasta.
- Scramble it with your eggs for a nutritious omelet.
- Freeze it for later.
- Make a Lamb’s Quarter spread.
- Use it on your sandwich instead of lettuce.
- Make Lamb’s Quarter-infused vinegar.
- Make pesto (this link has a lot of other great Lamb’s Quarter recipes as well)
So, I’ve officially at peace with my Lamb’s Quarter problem. It’s been exciting to learn more about this plant and to realize that this former “pest” is actually a great asset to have on my homestead.
I re-seeded a small area of grass this year, and initially was dissapointed that only a portion of my grass seed germinated and the rest of the plot filled with Lamb’s Quarters… But now, I’m just thinking that it may turn into the official “Prairie Homestead Lamb’s Quarter patch.
Do you have Lamb’s Quarters on your property? How do you use them? What other “weeds” do you forage for?