Lambs Quarters (pigweed, goosefoot, wild spinach) is seen by most people as a common weed. They don’t realize that it is a tasty and nutritious green vegetable that can be enjoyed, free for the picking. Lambs quarter, is sometimes referred to as goosefoot because of the shape of its leaves. Like any edible wild plant don’t eat it unless you are positive of its identification. Be sure it has not been exposed to chemical sprays or pollution, especially if it is alongside the road.
The leaves and stems are edible and delicious. They have a flavor similar to spinach or chard. If you enjoy leafy greens such as kale, collards, and spinach you will like lambs quarter. The easiest way to cook lambs quarter is to simply steam the leaves and stems in a small amount of water until tender. The greens cook quickly and turn a dark green color as they shrink down during cooking.
The young leaves and smaller stems are good eaten raw in salads. Michael Pollan who wrote “In Defense of Food.” advocates calls lambs quarters and purslane “two of the most nutritious plants in the world”. Lambs quarter is high in Vitamins A and C, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, manganese, potassium and iron. The crushed fresh roots are a mild soap substitute.
The plants can grow as tall as three and a half feet. The leaves alternate and are often mealy or powdery on the underside. Leaves are wedge shaped at the base, and pointed at the tip with toothed edges. The flowers are arranged in spikes or small dense clusters. This is a very common plant and well worth your time to investigate. There are look alike plants that are similar in appearance that can be harmful. Be sure o you know what it is before you eat it. Howard