The myriad plants we call ‘weeds’ get a bad rap, but many of them are nutritious, delicious and crying out to be added to your next salad.
When lockdown 1.0 hit and we were confined to our house and garden, I began a wee love affair with edible weeds. Not only are they free, they’re also highly nutritious and you can count on there always being one edible weed or another flourishing in your garden year-round.
The thought of eating something poisonous meant I went cautiously at first, making sure I was correctly identifying what I had picked and then sometimes checking multiple references to make sure I was certain. The thought of death-by-weeds isn’t a pretty one! I also introduced a few weeds at a time so my body got used to them before introducing new ones.
Soon I was familiar with the many weeds that grow in abundance in our garden; dandelion (also known as the king of the weeds for its health-giving properties), chickweed, plantain, speedwell, cleavers, daisy, herb robert, dock and dove’s foot geranium among others. These weeds I now pick and eat daily, using them in cooked meals such as stews, soups and sauces as well as in smoothies (a great way for kids to enjoy them) and most often – as in the recipe below – in salads.
Before picking weeds, make sure they are harvested from an area free from chemical sprays (call your local council if you plan to forage in public spaces to find out if certain areas are sprayed or not) and take only what you need. If you’re interested in learning more about edible weeds and incorporating them into your diet, then a great website is juliasedibleweeds.com
EDIBLE WEED SALAD
- 3-4 cups mixture salad greens and edible weeds (dandelion leaves and flower petals, cleavers, plantain, chickweed, speedwell etc)
- 2 eggs, boiled, chopped
- ½ avocado, sliced
- good handful tamari seeds (I toast sunflower and pumpkin seeds then drizzle them with tamari)
- crumbled feta cheese
Put the salad greens and edible weeds into a bowl. If using cleavers then chop finely before scattering over the greens. I also added in some parsley and apple mint as well as some calendula and dandelion petals. Top with the avocado, eggs, seeds and feta before dressing with your favourite dressing or simply drizzling with a good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy, often!
The weeds I used in this recipe that feature in the photo are (clockwise from top left) cleavers, chickweed (with the little white flowers), plantain, speedwell (with the little blue flowers) and dandelion.
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