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chickweedToo bad we are having miserable weather as I write this, when I was out and about last week I noticed the chickweed was out and about…  (I’m actually a bit bummed, because I was going to going take the munchkin on a photo-taking expedition for this post!!)

The thing to remember about spring is that when and where chickweed leads, the rest of the greens follow!

Some of the common green spring wild edibles include chickory, chickweed, henbit and deadnettle, clover and (Asiatic and Virginia) dayflower, wood sorrel, purslane, plantain, violet, garlic mustard, and wild onions and wild garlic, and dandelion.  Around the neighborhood in early spring, its mostly mouse-eared chickweed, with some henbit and red deadnettle, and  narrow leaved plantain (as opposed to broadleaf plantain).  We also have a bit of dandelion and the occasional wild onion (rather than dig it up, you can top off the leaves and use them like chives) and (pink and yellow) wood sorrel.

Wild Green Pesto

2-3 cups wild green (chickweed, plantain, dandelion greens, etc)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 c pine nuts or walnuts
3/4 c grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp salt
1/3-1/2 c extra virgin olive oil

Wash greens in cold water and remove leaves from stalks, drain greens. Run garlic through a food processor at chop and then add the greens, nuts, cheese, salt and 1/3 cup of olive oil and process until pest consistency. If the mixture is too dry, add up to the 1/2 c of olive oil.

When it comes to picking greens, the most important thing to remember is to choose locations that with a minimum of pollution.  Also, know the best time to pick–most greens are the tastiest when the leaves are small and sometimes (as with dandelions) before the plant flowers, or before the weather heats up.  If you want to try grocery shopping in your lawn (or someone else’s lawn), you can easily substitute many wild greens for conventional ones (never forage a plant you can’t absolutely identify).

Once you bring your greens in, make sure you wash them well before preparing them.  Mild greens, like chickweed or violet leaves, can be eaten raw in salads or pesto (see the above recipe) as well as cooked.  Chickweed specifically is a great (and nutritious) ingredient in juicing or smoothies. Bitter greens (like dandelions) can often be blanched or to remove some of the bitterness and then sauteed or otherwise cooked (don’t forget to drain them before sauteing or cooking).  Most greens need to be removed from the stems to make them more palatable, with the notable exception of chickweed*.

Chickweed “juice”

A Pile of Chickweed, washed and coarsley chopped**
An apple
An orange
A cucumber

Juice it and drink!

Recipe Round-up from the Interwebs

*Can you tell how much I love chickweed? Its a great medicinal herb too!
**BTW, never try to juice the long stems of chickweed, it will clog up the juicer.