Chickweed: The Edible and Delicious Weed
Chickweed (Stellaria media), also known as Common Chickweed, Maruns, Stitchwort, Starweed, Chickenwort, Craches, or Winterweed is a prime illustration of a plant that gardeners would classify as a weed because, if unmanaged, it will trample all over the flower borders.
Infusions of chickweed were once frequently marketed on city streets as a green vegetable and a remedy for a variety of illnesses, including weight loss. It is believed to have benefits in treating arthritic pain.
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Can you eat chickweed?
In actuality, it is a fantastic advantage because you can weed and harvest it for nothing at the same time. Chickweed can be used in sandwiches as a tasty alternative to cress. Use the entire plant in salads or cook it gently as a vegetable for a few minutes over a low heat with some butter. Birds and chickens enjoy the seed, hence the name.
What does Chickweed look like?
Chickweed is a fine-rooted annual plant known and has delicate, pale green, oval leaves that grow in pairs along prostrate stems that can range in length from 5 to 40 centimetres (2 to 16 inches). Each prostrate stem has a single line of hairs running the length of it. It produces tiny, white flowers that resemble stars and measure up to 1 cm (in).
What does Chickweed taste like?
Usually compared to lettuce, sometimes a mild cress. It has a very mild, fresh pea like flavour.
When is Chickweed in season?
Chickweed can be seen year round when conditions are mild. However, it can be found in most weathers.
Where can you find Chickweed?
Chickweed prefers cultivated and bare terrain with minimal competition and can be found all over the UK. It frequently appears on a fresh seed beds, garden borders and flower pots. Whilst looking for this delicate weed, why not keep your eyes open for another useful 'weed', the Dandelion.
Chickweed and Pea Pesto
70g lightly toasted walnuts
2-3 cloves garlic
3 good handfuls of chickweed, washed
50g Defrosted, frozen peas
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Good glug of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Simply blend all of the ingredients to a fine sauce, check the seasoning and enjoy.
2 large handfuls of washed Chickweed, loosely chopped
1 Leek, finely chopped
Tsp Fresh Thyme leaves, chopped
Salt and Pepper
Place the Chickweed in boiling salted water. Blanche for two minutes, drain and cool.
Melt a tablespoon of butter in a frying pan. Gently fry the leek until sweet and translucent then add the chickweed. Add salt, pepper and the fresh thyme, stir and serve. Perhaps with a little more butter (it is buttered Chickweed after all).
There are so many things that you can do with this yummy weed, you can add chopped chickweed leaves to dishes like soups, egg recipes, pastas, or pizzas. Have it in sandwiches or eat it as a revengeful snack whilst weeding your borders.
If you are a gardener I am sure that you'll be licking your lips with anticipation next time the chore of weeding comes up. Chickweed in the garden is a classic case of 'if you can't beat it, eat it!'.
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