At this week's pick-up, half share members had to pick two of either lambs quarters, spinach, or cilantro. I grow cilantro at home, so I decided to go with the lambs quarters. There was just one problem... I had never seen lambs quarters before, and I didn't know what to do with them. I called up my aunt who is an avid gardner and asked her, but she didn't know either. She thought I was talking about lamb chops.
As it turns out, lambs quarters are a leafy green in the spinach family, and are found all over the Northeast. They are often thought of as weeds because they spread quickly, however they were long used by Native Americans, and are highly nutritious. These greens can grow as tall as 2-6 feet, and they often have reddish-purple stems and jagged, triangular leaves. Lambs quarters are also known as pigweed, and can sometimes be confused with purslane, a low-growing weed that is also called pigweed.
- Store unwashed and wrapped in a damp cloth or paper towel in your refrigerator drawer
- Store washed leaves in a vegetable bag in your refrigerator drawer; lambs quarters can keep for more than a week this way
- Use lambs quarters leaves as you would spinach. Try replacing spinach with lambs quarters in your favorite recipe!
- When the plant is young, lambs quarters leaves can be eaten raw in green salads, coleslaw, or on sandwiches
- As the plant ages, cooking the leaves makes these delicious greens tender; steam or sauté them as you would other greens
- Add to omelettes, stir-fries, soups, casseroles, or lasagna
- If you don't like the texture of cooked greens, you can dry lambs quarters leaves as you would parsley and crumble them into foods as a mild-tasting, colorful seasoning
- Lambs quarters are high in vitamins A and C as well as calcium, potassium, protein, and fiber
LAMBS QUARTERS QUICHE
This recipe came out super well when I tried it at home, but I found that the filling was a little too much, and it overflowed when I poured it into the crust. I also used a graham cracker crust to add a little bit of sweetness, but a pastry pie shell will work just as well (and in fact that's what the original recipe calls for). I am adding the original amounts here, but play around with them depending on the size of your pie crust.
9" unbaked pie crust (If you are using a graham cracker crust, you can skip the first step and just preheat your oven to 325 degrees)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion (approx. one small onion)
4 cups lambs quarters leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 cups grated swiss cheese (try using 1 1/2 cups, or even just 1 cup to avoid overflowing. I also made my quiche with monterey jack instead of swiss and it was delicious!)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. When oven is hot, partially bake pie crust for 5 to 7 minutes or until light brown. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 325 degrees. Meanwhile, in medium sauté pan, heat butter. Add onion and cook for one minute. Add lambs quarters and cook until tender and limp. Stir in flour and salt, and set aside. In a small bowl, beat eggs and milk. Stir in greens. Sprinkle cheese into pie shell; pour in egg-vegetable mixture. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until knife comes out clean when inserted in center. (This will vary depending on your oven, but I ended up needing to raise the temperature to 350 and baking my quiche for about an hour and a half). Let stand ten minutes before serving.