First, I’d like to apologize for the lack of posts this past week. I had my gall bladder removed and have been slowly doing more and more. I overdid it on Sunday and certainly paid for it. (But those black raspberries were going to go bad if they weren’t picked!) Today is the best day thus far, but I’m still keeping it close to home. However…there was something else that had to be used up or lost. Weeds!
When we first established our garden, we attempted to make it as pristine as possible. Not an easy task when your garden is 100 by 50 feet! We used the mesh weed covers, we mulched continuously and spent an insane number of hours plucking weeds by hand so that our garden looked good. We soon learned that a lot of our attempts were not just time consuming, but completely unnecessary. Our weed deterrent is now newspapers. Sometimes covered in mulch, sometimes not. The rows between our raised beds are now mowed instead of attempts at keeping it weed free. And as soon as we realized the gold mine in the weeds that loved our garden…a lot of our hand picking was over.
The weeds that love our garden bed most are Purslane and Lamb’s Quarters. They are both delightfully edible, quite delicious and extremely nutritious. Purslane is an excellent source of folates, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, Vitamin C and Vitamin A. It is also one of the very few plants that is a source of the omega-3 fatty acid. Lamb’s Quarters hosts Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Phosphorous, Calcium, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin and Iron. Both can be used in dishes similar to how you would use spinach. They can be eaten raw or cooked. Both plants also have medicinal purposes, which I won’t get into in this post, but are worth researching if you’d like to take the plunge yourself.
Caution: Please make sure you familiarize yourself with any plant you intend to ingest or use for medicinal purposes. Never eat anything if you are not 100% sure what it is and make sure your research is complete before you venture into consuming anything new.
Anyway, once we embraced our weeds, we started to treat them as their own crops. For instance, they are allowed to take over in between the melon plants. I will pull them if they get too close to the root of the vines, otherwise they live harmoniously with our cantaloupes and watermelons. We harvest them as we would spinach.
Today I decided to make a pesto sauce with some of the “weeds” I had in the fridge. It is a simple enough recipe and I used what I had on hand. I didn’t measure, but here’s the approximate ingredient list:
- 1 cup Purslane and Lamb’s Quarters (cleaned thoroughly and stems removed from Lamb’s Quarters) I left about half of the stems of the Purslane.
- 1/8 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
Place all ingredients into food processor, except olive oil. Whir for a few seconds to chop the ingredients. Drizzle the olive oil through the chute on top as the processor is on. (You may have to scrape down the sides first). Add enough olive oil to make the mixture into a loose paste. (I like my pesto thick). Add more oil if you’d like it more “saucy”.
You can then add the pesto to almost anything. Pasta, cooked potatoes, as a binding ingredient to make burgers, pasta salad, as a spread for sandwiches…etc. I used mine as a dressing for halved grape tomatoes. Sprinkled a little extra cheese and a few sunflower seeds and I dubbed it lunch.
So when you’re working in your garden this summer, don’t forget about all of the free food that is literally being sprinkled into your world. Branch out and try something new. Who knows? Next year, you may have a weed garden. On purpose!