If asparagus and swiss chard had a baby in an untouched woodsy forest somewhere, the result would be lambsquarters. At least, that’s the fairy tale version. The real version is pretty cool too: this wild plant, which can be found growing in most parts of the world, is in fact related to spinach and beets. While modern gardeners may curse it (lambsquarters can take over a garden like nothing else!), it happens to be exceptionally delicious. In fact, according to Penn State Extension — a division of the College of Agricultural Sciences — people have probably been eating lambsquarters since prehistoric times!
Besides tasting like the woodsy baby of asparagus and swiss chard, this so-called weed also has a ton of nutritional moxie: experts agree that it outperforms spinach with regards to iron and protein. Forager Steve Brill, colloquially-known as “Wildman,” describes lambsquarters as “one of the best sources of beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, and iron in the world; also a great source of trace minerals, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, and fiber.” And check out what the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association has to say about lambsquarters here. (By the way, if you happen to live in the New York area and haven’t been on one of Steve’s foraging walks, you should definitely check them out! They are awesome!)
Believe it or not, I first came across lambsquarters — not traipsing around looking for wild plants — but at the Union Square Greenmarket. Lani’s farm was sampling them one day. I quickly fell in love with their unique, rich, woodsy flavor and now I buy them whenever I can. They are absolutely delicious sautéed with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper and so quick and easy to prepare!