GarryRickardWhy Not Eat Weeds? writes Garry Rickard

This is the first of what will hopefully be a regular feature on the web site. The aim is to provide interesting, and perhaps, unusual recipes for your allotment produce. As I have started my allotment I, as well as everyone else, have had to deal with a multitude of weeds. Some can be composted, some will need to be disposed of, but some you can eat! This is not as daft as it sounds, some weeds are good to eat and some are even cultivated in many places. I’ve chosen two weeds which I have recently found on my plot for the following tasty recipes:


Fat Hen (Chenopodium album)

Fat Hen with Smoked Haddock

I have noticed fat hen (Chenopodium album) on most plots, it can be used in the same way as spinach. It is as good, if not better, than spinach. It is cultivated for food in parts of Europe and Asia. The leaves of the plant are variable but are roughly rounded triangular. To ensure that you correctly identify it is best to wait till the plants are 10 cm – 15 cm high at which time they start to get a highly distinctive mealy surface.

For the recipe, pick the fat hen discarding the thicker stalks. The leaves and shoots can both be used (it’s probably best to pick before going to seed and so prevent spreading seeds around the allotments!).

Add a portion of smoked haddock to a pan with a bay leaf, a few peppercorns and cover with milk. Put the lid on and bring to a simmer, then remove from heat.

Meanwhile add a portion of washed (still wet) fat hen to a saucepan with a nob of butter and some salt and pepper. Heat with top on until wilted.

Serve the drained fish with a poached egg on top and the fat hen beside.



Chickweed Pakoras

Chickweed Pakoras

Most people will be familiar with chickweed. It is a low, sprawling annual with oval shaped leaves and white flowers. To be sure of your identification look at the stems very closely and you will see tiny hairs down just one side. Chickweed is a perfectly acceptable mild salad vegetable; however, it comes into its own in pakoras:

Grab a couple of large handfuls of washed and drained chickweed. Chop roughly and add a finely chopped small onion, a pinch of salt and a pinch of baking powder.

Add some curry powder or curry paste of your choice and cover with a few spoonfuls of gram flour. Add water to make paste the consistency of mustard.

Fry dessertspoonfuls in a frying pan with a thin layer of oil and fry until crisp on both sides (approx. 5 minutes).

No measurements are given as this is a very forgiving recipe to which you can modify and add almost any vegetable.

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Before you start eating the weeds from your allotment, make sure you know what you are eating. Not all weeds are edible and some weeds (flowers and plants as well, for that matter) are highly toxic. Never eat any plant from your allotment or garden without first knowing that it is edible and whether it is toxic or not. Ed.