You are all friends, so I say this without fear of sounding condescending. (It will sound condescending, I just don’t fear it. ) I chuckle at NYT Food writers all of a sudden “discovering” things that I’ve been promoting since 1996, like Green Garlic, or Epazote. Like this makes them so cool. (It’s like 7th graders and sex: okay guys, you discovered it, you didn’t invent it.) This week, it’s foraging in your own yard. I won’t even include the link. You don’t need it, you have me.
Yesterday at Market, all 5 lb of Lambsquarters I brought were sold: some to brave new customers (hope you love’em), some to long-familiar cooks. So we (ahem) are ahead of a lot of Times readers, writers and their pet chefs.
It’s been a while since my last Recipe page, and Lambsquarters are good right now, so here. Recipes call for a half pound, which is the size bag I sell. In the country this quantity is termed a “cooking mess.”
“Spinach” Crepes with Goat Cheese
1. Queso Blanco: mild, crumbly, fast-to-make.
In a copper bottomed stock pot, heat 2 quarts fresh goat’s milk to 180 and keep hot ten minutes. Stir in 2 tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar. You will see the curd start to separate. Line a strainer with a large coffee filter or clean white handkerchief. Ladle curds and whey in and leave for an hour. Turn curds into a bowl and add 1/4 tsp kosher salt. Toss to mix thoroughly, and refrigerate till ready to use. Let stand at room temp while you do the other stuff.
3. Blanch lambsquarters just till bright green and limp. Drain well, reserving a cup of liquid, and turn out on cutting board. Chop very fine, cutting in several different directions until all leaves and stems are reduced to quarter-inch pieces or smaller.
4. Chop a medium onion very fine. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a saute’ pan, add onion and saute till soft and golden-brown. Add lambsquarters, and season to taste with salt, pepper, nutmeg and a little cayenne. Add reserved blanching liquid, cover, reduce heat and simmer ten minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Turn off and cover.
1. I am not going to tell you how to make crepes. Make a dozen unsweetened ones. Stack on a plate and keep warm. Or make ahead and refrigerate.
5. When the greens and cheese are done, fill crepes by spreading 2 tbsp cheese along one side, then top with greens, and roll up. Lay side by side in a shallow baking dish: may make 2 layers.
6. You can warm them a little and serve as is: or, top with a rich bechamel sauce, some shredded Swiss cheese and place under a broiler for a few minutes.
“Saag” with Lambsquarters
Among my favorite Indian recipes are those featuring Saag. These include Saag Aloo (potatoes), Saag Paneer (cheese) and Saag Ghosht (lamb stew). It’s been explained to me that Saag is a general term for various tender cooking greens, some of them foraged, that are available in India. Western-adapted recipes call for chopped frozen spinach, or for chopping and sauteeing fresh. Prepare Lambsquarters as for the crepe recipe above, and omit the seasoning: then use as spinach in any Saag recipe. Lambsquarters will be a little more substantial than spinach: I don’t consider this a bad thing.
Chop 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, or a stalk of green garlic, coarsely. Saute’ in 1/8 inch olive oil till golden and sizzling. Add washed and coarsely chopped lambsquarters, with some water still on leaves, reduce heat, cover and cook till a fork goes through them easily. Serve over cooked pasta (I like fettucine) and top with crumbled Feta.
Korean-Style “Spinach” Salad
Blanch whole lambsquarters just till bright green and limp, then drain quickly and plunge into ice water. Let stand till cooled, then drain, squeezing out as much water as possible. Toss with 2 tbsp sesame oil, 1/2 tsp each garlic powder and cayenne (or if you have green garlic and chiles, chop very fine and throw ’em in), 1 tbsp soy sauce, and top with sesame seeds. This is great over cold rice on a hot day. It keeps a long time because of the sesame oil, which is a natural preservative.
The image above, if I do say so myself, is a very accurate one of Lambsquarters. So now you may find it in your own garden. Just snap stalks where they’re tender. Cut it back like Basil to keep it leafy, and leave a plant to self-sow in Fall, in a spot that won’t be disturbed.