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Italian Treatment

It has relatives that are more well-known, like spinach, beets and quinoa, and some less known ones such as epazote and Jerusalem oak. It is one of the most nutritious plants available. It grows in abundance in the mid-Atlantic states, yet it is considered by some to be an invasive weed. Its name is lamb’s quarters and in a word, it’s delicious.

Its Latin name is Chenopodium album, meaning white goosefoot, referring to the shape of its leaf and to a mealy white powder appearing on both sides. In Canada it has been widely known as pigweed and bacon weed because it was often fed to pigs.

Lamb’s quarters

The whole plant can be eaten when young. The leaves are good in spring and early summer. After that, the upper leaves are best. The leaves can be used raw in salads or cooked in soups, stews, casseroles, simply steamed or sautéed. Lamb’s quarters dries well and can be reconstituted or powdered for use in winter. It is very good in raw cheese or tofu dishes like quiche, as its wild flavor and high mineral content go well with cool, bland high protein foods.

Here, I’ve given it a slightly Italian treatment. Shrimp are briefly sautéed with garlic, then folded into coarsely chopped lamb’s quarters that have been separately sautéed with garlic, red pepper flakes and breadcrumbs. This is then combined with spaghetti and served with a little Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil drizzled on top.

Spaghetti with shrimp, lamb’s quarters, garlic and breadcrumbs

Click here to view a large size version of this picture.

3/4 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 bunch lamb’s quarters, washed, trimmed and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup breadcrumbs from a slightly stale loaf of bread or a baguette
olive oil
pinch of red pepper flakes
kosher salt
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
juice of half a lemon (optional)
cooked spaghetti

Generously sprinkle salt on shrimp, toss and set aside for 10 minutes.

Heat olive oil in a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add half of the garlic and sauté until lightly golden. Add shrimp and sauté, stirring occasionally until shrimp are cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat a little more olive oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remainder of the garlic. Sauté until it takes a bit of color, about 30 seconds. Add lamb’s quarters to the pan. Wait until the sputtering dies down, toss in a pinch of salt and cook until the greens wilt, about 2 minutes. Stir in breadcrumbs, taking care not to burn them. Add shrimp and parsley. Cook until shrimp are heated through. Check seasoning. Add lemon juice, if desired.

Cook spaghetti; drain. Add spaghetti directly to skillet. Toss with shrimp mixture. Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and serve at once.

If you wanted to make this purely vegan, remove the shrimp and replace with golden raisins, olives and some capers.

This post is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging #205, hosted by Cinzia of Cindystar Blog, run by Haalo of Cook Almost Anything at Least Once and originated by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen.

9 replies »

  1. I had to put my glasses on, because at first glance it looked like a big pile of marijuana! Which reminds me, I have a great recipe for brownies. (giggle)


  2. RG — I hope my photography skills aren’t that bad…heh. It’s a weed but not that type of “weed”.

    Bill — Yep. I forgot to add that lamb’s quarters are quite rich in oxalic acid. People are well-advised not to eat lamb’s quarters in excessive amounts as the chemical can be an irritant to weakened kidneys. That being said, I used one bunch for a pasta dish that was good for two meals…and I’m still here, with no ill effects.


  3. it is fascinating to see what is a weed
    When I read old books they have a lot of plants nowadays called weeds, yet once upon a time they were quite useful.
    I am told my ancestors brought dandelions to New England as they were so useful a plant. Perhaps we should revive some of these ‘weeds’ to their previous status.


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