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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I'm eating a lamb's what?

One of the surprises I got in the CSA box this week is Lamb's Quarter. The name makes it sound like it would make a great roast and the centerpiece of Easter dinner. The appearance, though, lets you know really it is best used for kids who want to make crayon rubbings.

Of course, I'm kidding. I let no kids color with my dinner before I ate it. 

I did, as is my hobby, look lamb's quarters up on Wikipedia. Once again, I was not disappointed. I found out it can also be called pigweed, goosefoot, or fat hen. Why all the animal names for something that is so clearly a plant? I mean, so very much a plant, that if I hadn't received it in a box of produce, I most certainly never would have even considered it to be a food item.

Admit it, composters out there... this looks more like a brown than a green, doesn't it?

Of course, after having my little chuckle over the most vegetarian goose/pig/hen/lamb that ever got eaten, I read on about it nutritive properties and the varied uses for it. Which are: this is related to spinach, tastes like spinach, and can be used like spinach. Which, of course, begs the question: Why not just use spinach?

I'm so glad you asked. There is a very real answer to why lamb's quarter should be used instead of spinach. And that is, because lamb's quarter is what is in my box this week, and spinach isn't. 

Really, though, as far as I can tell, lamb's quarter is a little bit milder in flavor, tougher in texture, and has a wee bit more nutritional value than spinach. Other than that, there is no real reasons to choose one over the other. It can be used, like spinach, in a stir-fry, salad, lasagna, quiche, etc.

Having never tried it before, I went for a recipe that would mellow it through the sheer strength of the other flavors. As it turns out, it is a bit tough, but very very mild in flavor. I certainly would be happy to try it again in a different recipe. For this week, though, it became a part of a Greek Salad. I adapted this recipe from one I found on Prodigal Gardens.

Greek Lamb's Quarter Salad

1 bunch of lamb's quarter, de-stemmed (about 3 cups of leaves) 
2 medium tomatoes
2 cucumbers
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup dill, finely chopped
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup green olives, cut into quarters

Toss all the salad ingredients with the dressing, below:

1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. fresh oregano

Measure all ingredients into a jar and shake well.