It happens to even the most fastidious gardeners. Those giant weeds pop up overnight, just like the stuff you’re actually trying to grow. I was gone for work for most of the last week, so it was particularly apparent in my backyard. My wife made a valiant effort cleaning out the front yard, but the backyard sprouted about a million dandelions. But hey, if life gives you dandelions, make a weed pilaf. (I guess that’s not really a saying.)

Dandelion greens are best eaten before the plants flower.

But that’s exactly what I did. The dandelion leaves were deep green and sturdy – perfect for stewing down a bit. In addition, I picked up some amaranth grain at Whole Foods yesterday – which is also considered a weed in most of the US, but its seeds and leaves are very edible and nutritious.

Amaranth is a tiny grain – it looks a little like quinoa before it’s cooked, but it takes about 35 minutes of cooking and 10 minutes of standing to become tender. It comes out porridgey, almost like a rissoto. At the end, I added in some chopped dandelion greens, fava beans and roasted red peppers. I have to say the amarath portion of the dish was pretty unappealing. It had a mucilaginous quality that was really offputting, and it was pretty tasteless on its own. I added some salt and thyme, and the bitterness of the dandelion greens helped, but I probably wouldn’t cook with amaranth seed again, at least in that way.

When you're cooking with weeds, make sure you wash them really well.

In addition, I grilled up some lemon/lime/serrano marinated calamari and some steamed green onions. Grilled scallions are an obsession of mine – and I serve them with romesco sauce. This time, I used equal amounts of hazelnuts and almonds in my romesco, and it came out complex and delicious!

I planted purslane, often seen as a weed, as a food crop. For some reason, it hasn't grown as a weed in my yard yet. It wasn't quite ready to add to today's meal yet, but I tasted a bit of it today - bright and succulent!

Advertisements