Wild Spinach, “Chenopodium Album”
“Farinaccio” – “Goosefoot” – “Lamb’s Quarter”

    • Prep Time
    • Minutes
    • Cook Time
    • Minutes
    • Difficulty Level

“Chenopodium Album” or Wild Spinach, Lamb’s Quarters, Goosefoot, Pigweed, Fat Hen: another lost weed. It doesn’t like humidity, but apart from this, it can grow almost anywhere since it reproduces quite aggressively. The plant can grow up to one and a half meters high and looks like a small tree: a tall straight trunk, branching out like a cone. Its alternate diamond shaped leaves – 3 to 6cm long – have slightly serrated margins and they can change from a pale green to a dark green colour, sometimes with a purple shaded base that heightens in autumn. The leaves at the top are smaller and elongated and can show two barely outlined lobes, from which I guess it gets the english common name of “Goosefoot”.

Its most distinguishing property, though, is a sort of a thin and sandy white film that coats especially the younger leaves and those that are close to the white seed clusters.

The best period for harvesting wild spinaches is from may to october. Usually only its leaves get picked for cooking purposes, but even seeds can be collected when ripe in autumn unless, of course, you have other options for your spare time…

But for thousands of years they have been ground up into a flour for making bread: it is related to quinoa, another important alternative to common cereals which is gaining more and more consideration in the pasta industry and in “haute patisserie”, since they are trying to find an answer to the needs of a constantly expanding gluten intolerant population.

It contains more iron then domesticated spinaches, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and B-1 vitamin in high quantities.

Its leaves can be eaten fresh as a salad, but more commonly they are boiled or cooked. I like to mix them with other wild herbs and use them as a side for poultry or as a stuffing for filled fresh pasta. Because of its high content of minerals it is extremely tasty and I recently found that surprisingly its leaves can be dried and used as a substitute for salt. Interesting, isn’t it?

Pick the whole plant cutting the stalk at the base and leaving the roots intact, so it will keep growing a new fresh plant in about 2 or 3 weeks.

This time I decided to blanch and store the goosefoot I picked – I like to have provisions for winter – but it would be better to gently cook the fresh leaves directly in the frying pan with just a spoonful of butter, onions and, obviously, a couple of “Suited Garlic” cloves (careful with seasoning: as I said, it’s quite salty already!).

Note for the users: please click on the label “HOW TO” to watch the slide-show of each cooking step.

Recipe Rating

  • (6 Rating)

Ingredients

  • Goosefoot (branches)

  • Fresh running water

  • Fresh cold water

  • Boling water

  • Sterilising fluid for food - (use according to instructions)

  • Utensils

  • One paring knife

  • One chef knife (optional)

  • One chopping board

  • Two large bowls (or one large bowl and the kitchen sink)

  • One large saucepan

  • One skimmer

  • One medium bowl

  • One strainer

Instructions

  • 1.
    Separating leaves and stalks

    • Goosefoot (branches)
    • Fresh running water

      Generally, it is possible to pick up the plant without any impurity, so the first rough cleansing will be quite quick adn easy. Just hold teach plant upside down and wash them one by one under running water, going through its leaves with your fingers if necessary.
      Then, patiently, separate each leaf from the branches and eliminate those that do not look appealing enough (speckled or eaten by insects, etc...).

  • 2.
    Washing the leaves

    • Goosefoot leaves
    • Cold water
    • Sterilising fluid for food - (use according to instructions)
    • Boiling water

    • Two large bowls (or one large bowl and the kitchen sink)
    • One large saucepan

      Clean the sink, fill it with fresh clean water and add the sterilising fluid according to its instructions. Bathe the leaves into the sink’s water. Let them rest for about 15 minutes or as much as the instructions say to be enough. Move them gently from time to time, so the dirt will fall on the bottom.
      Meanwhile, put the water to boil on a high heat. The quantities of water will depend on how much goosefoot you are going to blanch, but since it will be done all at once, the more water you bring to a constant boil, the quicker and more effective the bleaching will be.
      Take out the leaves and put them in a large bowl while you empty and clean the sink again.
      Fill the sink with fresh water only and repeat the bathing a couple of times until perfectly cleansed. Then, collect the leaves in one bowl draining off as much water as possible.

  • 3.
    Blanching the leaves

    • he washed leaves
    • One large bowl full of cold water
    • The boiling water

    • One skimmer

      Fill one large bowl with cold water and put it as close as possible to the saucepan with the boiling water: it will be used to stop the cooking process which otherwise would continue overcooking them.To help this process you might want to add some ice cubes to the cold water.
      Drop the goosefoot into the boiling water. Stir quickly and leave it there for no more than one or two minutes. Use the skimmer to immerse all leaves into the water.
      With the skimmer, quickly drag the leaves out of the water and drop them into the cold water in the bowl.

  • 4.
    Chilling and draining the blanched leaves

    • The blanched leaves

    • One skimmer
    • One medium bowl
    • One strainer

      Let the leaves chill completely, then collect them with the skimmer and put them in a strainer which you place over a medium bowl.
      When completely drained, portion and store in the freezer.
      When needed, defrost them slowly on the counter or, even better, putting them in the fridge overnight. Do not use the microwave: it would ruin its texture and would degrade any trace of vitamins.

Instructions

  • 1.
    Separating leaves and stalks

    • Goosefoot (branches)
    • Fresh running water

      Generally, it is possible to pick up the plant without any impurity, so the first rough cleansing will be quite quick adn easy. Just hold teach plant upside down and wash them one by one under running water, going through its leaves with your fingers if necessary.
      Then, patiently, separate each leaf from the branches and eliminate those that do not look appealing enough (speckled or eaten by insects, etc...).

  • 2.
    Washing the leaves

    • Goosefoot leaves
    • Cold water
    • Sterilising fluid for food - (use according to instructions)
    • Boiling water

    • Two large bowls (or one large bowl and the kitchen sink)
    • One large saucepan

      Clean the sink, fill it with fresh clean water and add the sterilising fluid according to its instructions. Bathe the leaves into the sink’s water. Let them rest for about 15 minutes or as much as the instructions say to be enough. Move them gently from time to time, so the dirt will fall on the bottom.
      Meanwhile, put the water to boil on a high heat. The quantities of water will depend on how much goosefoot you are going to blanch, but since it will be done all at once, the more water you bring to a constant boil, the quicker and more effective the bleaching will be.
      Take out the leaves and put them in a large bowl while you empty and clean the sink again.
      Fill the sink with fresh water only and repeat the bathing a couple of times until perfectly cleansed. Then, collect the leaves in one bowl draining off as much water as possible.

  • 3.
    Blanching the leaves

    • he washed leaves
    • One large bowl full of cold water
    • The boiling water

    • One skimmer

      Fill one large bowl with cold water and put it as close as possible to the saucepan with the boiling water: it will be used to stop the cooking process which otherwise would continue overcooking them.To help this process you might want to add some ice cubes to the cold water.
      Drop the goosefoot into the boiling water. Stir quickly and leave it there for no more than one or two minutes. Use the skimmer to immerse all leaves into the water.
      With the skimmer, quickly drag the leaves out of the water and drop them into the cold water in the bowl.

  • 4.
    Chilling and draining the blanched leaves

    • The blanched leaves

    • One skimmer
    • One medium bowl
    • One strainer

      Let the leaves chill completely, then collect them with the skimmer and put them in a strainer which you place over a medium bowl.
      When completely drained, portion and store in the freezer.
      When needed, defrost them slowly on the counter or, even better, putting them in the fridge overnight. Do not use the microwave: it would ruin its texture and would degrade any trace of vitamins.

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