Eating Lamb’s Quarters

You know that weed popping up in between your heads of lettuce, spinach leaves, and pretty much all the plants and established rows that you’ve been persistently trying to maintain within your garden?  You know, the one with those diamond-looking leaves that no matter how many times you pull it out, it seems to have a million other siblings to take its place.  If you’ve ever worked in a garden, or have even just examined the “weeds” growing in your backyard, you’re probably familiar with what I’m talking about.  But did you know that that weed you’ve been relentlessly pulling out is just as edible (and tasty) as any of those veggies you’ve been preciously trying to keep away from the nagging pest?

The ubiquitous weed in which I’m referring (pictured above) is known as lamb’s quarter and is a member of the Chenopodium album family, which also includes beets and spinach.  Like its cousins and many other vegetables, lamb’s quarter is loaded with nutrients.  It contains over 100% DV of vitamins A & C, with vitamin C and K levels topping those of spinach.  Lamb’s quarter also contains a considerable amount of calcium and an array of trace minerals. Containing 4 grams per one cup cooked, it’s also high in fiber.

Having never previously tried lamb’s quarter, I wanted to initially cook it rather simply to experience its full taste.  So, I heated up some extra virgin olive oil in a saute pan, washed the lamb’s quarter, and threw it into the pan.  I sauteed it for about 7 minutes, lightly seasoning it with salt and pepper.  Halfway through, I added a little water and covered it with a lid.  Once tender, I plated the lamb’s quarter and added a squeeze of lemon.  I later added some hot sauce.

I was pleasantly surprised with how good it tasted.  It can easily be compared to the taste of spinach, although a tad more flavorful.  The leaves were exceptionally tender as were the stalks, which also added a bit of texture to the dish.  The simply sauteed lamb’s quarter was super easy to prepare and delicious just as is, however next time I think I would also add a few cloves of garlic to the pan.   To be honest, I think I enjoyed the taste of the lamb’s quarter more than that of the spinach I’ve got growing in my garden.

Next time you’re rooting out the “weeds” in your garden, grab a bag and don’t let the lamb’s quarters go to waste.  What’s one person’s weed is another person’s dinner.  Pretty soon you might find yourself heading out to the garden to pick the lamb’s quarters instead of the spinach.  However, I must add that if you’re garden isn’t organic, you might want to steer clear of saving the lamb’s quarters.  In contaminated soils such as those with pesticides, the weed will readily absorb the nitrates.

Can you spot the lamb's quarter growing in the lettuce?

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  • Reply
    June 7, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Hi Grace, greetings from California.

    One of my favorite booths at the farmers market sells lamb’s quarters, and other ‘weeds’ including the amazingly healthful purslane- good source of omega-3, vitamins, and protein.

    Plant domestication has not been concerned with healthfulness, so wild foods tend to be superior sources for nutrition.

    Positive Massage Therapy

  • Reply
    The Candid RD
    June 7, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Interesting!! There are plenty of weeds sprouting up in our garden, all of which are incredibly annoying, but this one does not look familiar. However if I do end up seeing it in the future, I will keep this post in mind! I like a spinach-like taste, sounds good to me.

  • Reply
    June 7, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Wow! Who would have guessed a weed could be so functional.

  • Reply
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    […] being so satisfied with the lamb’s quarter saute I had made the previous day, I really wanted to recreate something similar with the broccoli raab.  […]

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    cna training
    August 24, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    found your site on today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later

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