Summer is a great time to be out foraging, and Lamb’s Quarters can grow very abundant this time of the year. It seems like every time I have been out for a hike; I see wild Lamb’s Quarters. I like to eat Lamb’s Quarters in salads or sauteed with some garlic and olive oil. It has a mild flavor of spinach and is closely related to the quinoa family.
Identifying Lamb’s Quarters
Lamb’s Quarters, also know as Goose Foot or wild spinach, is fairly easy to identify. It likes to grow in yards and open areas. If you have a garden, it likes to grow in and about your vegetables. I allow it to grow in my garden and add the young leaves to the salad. The leaves resemble a goosefoot and are jagged and roughly diamond-shaped. The plant can grow quite tall with a pale green or whitish cast. Native people have eaten lamb’s Quarters for thousands of years. It is high in vitamins A and C.
I like to pick the leaves and keep the plant intact. Look for healthy full leaves, which are great for use in cooking. The young smaller leaves go well in a salad.
Make sure to wash your Lamb’s Quarters in some cold water thoroughly. I like to get a large bowl and submerge the leaves in water and vigorously shake them with my hands. Then remove them and place them into a salad spinner to remove the excess water.
I find that sauteing the leaves like spinach is the best way to eat Lamb’s Quarters. Start by sauteing some garlic with olive oil for about 2 minutes, then add the leaves and cook until they wilt. Add some salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon. It is surprising how much it tastes like spinach. It would be tough to tell them apart.
To properly identify the wild edibles I found in this post; I used this book:
Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide
Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide has all the plants conveniently organized by season; enthusiasts will find it very simple to locate and identify their desired ingredients. Each entry includes images, plus facts on the plant’s habitat, physical properties, harvesting, preparation, and poisonous look-alikes. The introduction contains tempting recipes, and there’s a quick-reference seasonal key for each plant.
The North American Field Guide is available from these retailers:
As with any wild edible plant, make sure you can properly identify them before eating. Only harvest in areas that you are confident that no chemicals have been used to manage weeds. So next time you are in your garden or out for a hike, keep your eyes open for Lamb’s Quarters. It makes a nice substitute for spinach, and it’s free.
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