This year, with the help of Joann and our other workawayers, we have the beginnings of a vegetable garden. I planted salad ingredients such as sorrel, wild rocket and spinach, and as they began to grow discovered that we had wild sorrel in the garden already, as well as the peculiarly named leafy green Lambs Quarters which are very, very similar to baby leaf spinach in flavour and appeared everywhere in early June, just as nettle season ended. We also have abundant chickweed – which has popped up in any place where the ground has been cleared for planting, and of course, stinging nettles which we used as our spring green up until the time they started to flower, and the ground elder, which is still producing some young leaves we can use.
My acid test of any gathered food is my husband… if he is prepared to eat it then it’s fine. He would absolutely not consume something just because it was good for him.
We have many, many pea plants this year… partly because I threw onto the vegetable patch a bag of dried peas that I had soaked for sprouting. It’s ridiculous not to soak dried pulses for a day or two before you use them, and the nutritional content of a seed which is in the process of germinating is infinitely better than those long dead relatives you get in cans. However, the young leaves on garden peas, are tastier again than the sprouts, so I’m glad I had too many and had to scatter them around the place.
Chickweed is an interesting plant – it is sold as a health supplement to people who want to lose weight – and not because of it being such a tiny green plant. I’ve not read anything in the New Scientist about it, which is a shame, because my personal experience is that it does seem to help you feel full after a meal. My friend Sara says this could be because it’s so nutritious that your body isn’t looking for more vitamins and minerals – non-nutritious food starves our bodies of essentials and causes our appetites to remain unsatisfied. It would seem perverse to dry chickweed out and put it into tablets, though, when it’s so abundant and tasty thrown into a salad. Ironically, if you search for chickweed on google you get ‘how to kill chickweed’ – this terrible, invasive, nutritious & tasty salad ingredient…
And chive flowers! What a discovery. They are delicious. After you pick the whole flower head, just nip the stalk away and you will have a handful of delicate, little, blue, crunchy, chive flavoured bells to decorate your salad.
So, on to the recipe:
- 100 stems of flowering chickweed
- 100 stems of lambsquarters
- 50 sorrel leaves
- 10 chive flower heads
- dressing of your choice – half balsamic vinegar, half olive oil & a dollop of mustard, for example.
Mix and serve.