Friday, January 14, 2011

Pass the Weeds, Please (Episode III): Winter Weed

Once my pre-ordered copy of John Kallas's Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods From Dirt To Plate arrived, I completely devoured it in a day.  One of my favorite finds in my backyard this year was chickweed.

Chickweed (Stellaria Media)
Chickweed is a delicious winter weed.  It grows all over the planet, so there is probably some i your area.  I have read from a few different sources that it gets its name because chickens love to eat it.  Depending on your zone, you may see it start showing up in February or March.

How to Identify Chickweed

Nutrition Information for Chickweed
Chickweed contains vitamins B6, B12, C and
D, plus beta-carotene, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus and
manganese.  It also contains the flavinoid rutin.

This is what my garden looked like in early April (however, many regions will find Chickweed starting to arrive as early as February) as I was going to get started with my spring planting. It was totally overrun with Chickweed, although I didn't know what it was at the time. So, as I often do when I find weeds growing in the garden, I identified it to see if it was something worth eating. I liked what I found!

These pictures are what chickweed looks like in the early spring in my zone. Look how much is there!  I needed to clean it out of my garden, so why not put all these free veggies to good use.  This plant changes a lot throughout the season. It gets very tall and grows very aggressively. The good news is that it is very easy to pull up. I look forward to cleaning up my garden this year and cooking up some nice Chickweed quiche for dinner.

How to Use Chickweed, Some Ideas
  1. Add to Tomato Sauce/Spaghetti Sauce ( I do this all the time.  I just throw it in the blender with the tomatoes and basil).
  2. Sautee in some olive oil and butter with Diced Onions
  3. Toss with a table salad
  4. Include in a pesto
  5. Wash and Eat it raw - it is a really tasty weed
  6. Add it to a veggie lasagna
  7. Chickweed Quiche or Frittata
Free fresh veggies in my own backyard?  Now that is a Finer Thing.

Note: I am not a biologist, nutrition, or herbalist.  I am just sharing my own appreciation for foraging and nutrition based on my own research.  I strongly encourage you to conduct your own research before eating wild food.

This post is a contribution to Finer Things Friday at Amy's The Finer Things in Life.

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