Other Weeds You Might Enjoy
By Steven Robert Allen
Thanks to Joran Viers, NMSU faculty adviser to the master gardener program in Bernalillo County, for providing information about several other delicious weeds. If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and 243-1386. Generally speaking, the younger the weed the better it will serve as food, and don't eat anything you haven't clearly identified. Also, remember to only eat weeds growing in soil that hasn't been nuked with pesticide.
You'll start to see purslane everywhere by midsummer. A rubbery weed with pink stems that clings low to the ground, purslane is very nutritious and has a tasty, tangy flavor. All parts are edible. It can be eaten raw, cooked or added to soups.
This one is a common summer annual. Viers prefers it cooked. “It's also an amaranth,” he says, “so you can let it go to seed and eat the seeds like the Aztecs did.” He adds, however, that the process is quite labor-intensive because the seeds are so small. If you want to try it, cut the plant off at the base, put it in a bag and shake it to thresh out the seeds. They can then be roasted in a dry pan.
“These are germinating right now,” Viers says. “There are several different species, all are edible raw, but they're a little mealy on the surface if you don't cook them. They have a nice mild flavor and can be cooked up like spinach with a little butter.” A relative called epazote has a narrower leaf and is sometimes used to flavor beans.
This is that yellow flower mustard that pops up everywhere when we have a wet spring. Viers says it tastes a bit like arugula. “It's very spicy, so you can't use much of it.” You can eat the leaves raw or lightly sautéed.
We're not talking about the big brown dried-out balls of thorns that cause 10 car pileups on the Interstate. Don't eat these suckers if they're ready to start tumbling. If you wait too long, Viers says they get fibrous and bristly. Still, seedling tumbleweeds are edible, although “they're nothing to write home about.” They can be eaten raw, but you'll probably get better results if you sauté them lightly.
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