On eating one’s weeds

This should make a nice blended soup, don’tcha think?

The only bad thing I find about growing the brassica family (cabbages, kales, etc.) under row covers is what it does to the gardener.  “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Because cabbages, once planted, need no care until harvest I guess I tend to forget about them.  It’s like getting a bye as far as garden work goes: they, like the potatoes, just do their growing thing out of sight until needed.  After a week away from the garden due to the oppressive heat, so many (!) things needed care that I *should* be able to ignore those cabbages another week or more, right?  Wrong.  I am a masochist, so I took a peek under the rowcovers.

Ohmahgah, purslane city!  Time for a little Revenge, Served Cold:

PURSLANE GAZPACHO, for six (Note:  I find it best to cut the purslane by first gathering up all its sprawling arms together and cutting it off, pony-tail style, about an inch above where the branches leave the ground.  Purslane can be messy to clean if you pull it up roots and all.)

  • About a gallon’s worth of purslane leaves and branches
  • Two small cucumbers, peeled
  • Two to four fleshy tomatoes, preferably the ones that are green when ripe, like Aunt Ruby’s German Green, or Green Zebra, but any color will do
  • Four large cloves hardneck garlic (or more) to taste
  • A medium red or yellow onion
  • One small hot chili, stemmed, and seeded too if it’s really obnoxious
  • 2 cups tomato juice or water to get the blender working correctly
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chives or green onions for garnish; vinegar for taste

This makes a shockingly green soup:  the more red tomatoes you add, the more muddied the color so be warned.  Clean purslane in a few changes of water, and strip off smaller branches from the larger trunk branches, discarding the trunks (unless of course they’re small then use all of it).  Core but don’t skin the tomatoes, and clean and halve onions and garlic.  Reserve part of the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and purslane, set aside.  Blend remaining ingredients (it might take a couple batches to get it all) in either a blender or a food processor, and place contents in a bowl.  Chop reserved veggies, add to chives/green onions, and add to bowl.   Test for salt (it can take a lot of salt) and add vinegar if it needs to be brighter.  Chill, serve.

WEEDER’S FRIEND PASTA SALAD  serves six depending on how much you like salad

  • 1 lb dried pasta like oriecchette (or really any small-ish and salad-friendly pasta), cooked al dente and then cooled immediately; tossed with 2 T olive oil, then chilled until rest of ingredients assembled
  • About a quart or more of purslane leaves and small branches:  after their cold-water bath, pull leaves, chop branches finely
  • About 2-3 cups of lambs’ quarters, young leaves only
  • Fresh turnips, cucumbers, kohlrabi and/or carrots, about 2 cups’ worth once cleaned and cubed
  • 2-3 large red beets and their leaves: peel, cube and steam beets until crisp-tender and chop and reserve beet stems and greens
  • 2-5 radishes, cleaned and slivered, or 1/2 cup or more whole radish seed pods (quite edible, and tasty!)
  • 1/2 cup or more chopped fleshy herbs to taste (oregano, parsley, basil, etc.) and some thyme leaves thrown in too
  • Chopped red onions or scallions to taste
  • 3/4 cup or more of your favorite garlic-heavy dressing:  this works well with a garlic/buttermilk or garlic/yogurt dressing, or a lemony vinaigrette, or, hell, fresh aioli!
  • 1 cup goat’s milk feta, crumbled, or to taste

Toss all veggies in a very large bowl with cooled pasta and the dressing.  The beets make it nice and pink-y red.  There should be a LOT of vegetables here:  about 2 or 3:1 as far as veg:pasta ratio goes, so you will need to jigger the dressing accordingly by adding the juice of half a lemon or enough extra dressing and/or onion to make it sing.  Crumble the nice salty feta on top, don’t spare the pepper grinder, and dig in.

10 responses to “On eating one’s weeds

  1. This is the second cold soup recipe I’ve read this morning. We have a purslane *problem* at our big garden, so this is timely! Thanks 🙂

  2. I had no idea you could eat that! The things you teach me!

  3. Weed eaters of the world, unite! It’s quite remarkable to me that most of the “weeds” growing in my little Bide-A-Wee garden are edible wild plants–purslane, lamb’s-quarter, wood sorrel, sheep sorrel. I’ve not done much with purslane, but I’ll have to try your soup once we get tomatoes. Saw another purslane treatment recently mixing it with yogurt and garlic a la tzaziki (sp?).


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  5. Is it wrong that I actually *like* purslane? I mean, as far as weeds go, it’s my favorite. It grows nice and low, like an intentional ground cover, and it’s so easy to yank out (and often pulling one taproot clears a good square foot or more of ground). And it’s tasty! If I could pick my weeds, I’d pick this one.

    I’ve never eaten lamb’s quarter. What’s it taste like? I have lots of that.

    Have any recipes for pigweed? I have a veritable forest out there. (Really, my 3yo is shorter than most of the weeds. It’s bad.)

    • Give lamb’s quarters a try, Serina. Use the young leaves at the tops of branches. They’re basically interchangeable with spinach, and thus are great for lasagne or what have you where you can cook it up. The leaves are kind of hairy so if you eat them raw make sure you drench them in something yummy. And good golly pigweed! That’s the first weed to sprout, anywhere. It’s really bad because it looks like beets and my red spinach when really young: I kept thinking I had seeded a row drunkenly until, sigh, it dawned on me that it was a weed.

  6. I had to look pigweed up.Not to be confused with Hogweed or Giant Hogweed which is a really nasty thing that looks like Queen Ann’s lace but is very noxious to human skin like a super poison ivy.It can cause skin lesions that leave lasting scars.It’s been showing up in Western NY especially in Apple country.One has to dress head to toe in protective clothing to try and remove it.

  7. Mrs. WF loves ’em in yougurt with herbs and garlic. Yum.

    Was checking on your hive. Is this your 1st year? Have you added a 2nd super? I have added one too, however the bees haven’t built much. Uncle Frank is MIA, so I have no idea what I am supposed to do next : ). Thought I compare with you.

  8. Thanks for these! Love purslane, didn’t have any last year but it appeared w/ some Richter’s herbs this year, and I was delighted. Have actually been cultivating around it, letting it merrily take off and become a ground cover in the (mostly perennial) bed it appeared in.

    Never thought of using it in gazpacho – great idea!

  9. Mama Bean, well, did you jump on the bandwagon and make yourself some cold soup? There’s lots to like in cold soup!

    Niki, the Internet can be a wonderful thing, can’t it? Just hope it helps you if you also have a purslane problem…

    Brett, yeah, I thought about adding yogurt or (better) some of my kefir but I figured that’d be gilding the lily. It’s fun how much weeds fill gaps in my repertoire (or CSA boxes). Pays to be a lazy weeder on rare occasion.

    Thanks again, Mandy, hope it helped!

    Yeah, Serina, I suppose pigweed is edible…it’s amaranth after all, but, well. You gotta draw the line somewhere or all you are doing is cultivating wild things. If times get really tough then that’s what we’ll all be doing but in the meantime I like my veg, thanks!

    John, indeed, giant hogweed is s-c-a-r-y. It has all kinds of warnings: basically in Michigan if you find it, you’re supposed to call the local extension service to help you deal with it. There are a few lookalikes so it’s good to be cautious.

    WF, this is our first year with the hive. We’ve put the 2nd or maybe a 3rd super on it (there are 3 boxes and, well, bees aren’t my job so I am speaking beyond my depth) and as far as I know everyone’s doing well. I think the queen started laying eggs in the honey super so Tom needed to add the queen excluder. That’s all I know, though. And yogurt…! Love it.

    Hayden I have to laugh about you “cultivating” it. Stand back and watch it grow is the best advice: it starts growing like crazy during the first week of July and so by now we can be overrun. Hope you like it.

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