Chickweed was always just a really common weed for me. Then it turned up in my veg box here in London and I was forced to take note of this little gem of a leaf.
These bunches were actually from the Perry Court, organic and Biodynamic farm in Kent. At this time of year I guess it must sprouting up all round their farm, (with wild garlic not far behind.) as this weed grows everywhere, so you’ll probably find it wether you live in the country or the city.
The leaves are small shiny and slightly translucent and it tastes like, like…..well, grass if I’m honest…it’s succulent and it’s cress-like (without the pepperiness) and is good dressed as a salad. I also imagine it cooked until just limp with dressing, or steamed briefly, or as tea….or as an alternative to watercress….
An hour before you eat it, I would suggest washing it then plunging the leaves into a big bowl of cold water, then leave to soak. Drain when you’re ready to use it. Pick out any tough stalks and yellow leaves. Then dry it if using as salad.
There are loads of health claims for chickweed. It’s full of vitamins and minerals, good for respiratory and skin problems and there are claims it can even aid weight loss. (It will be a new museli-bar flavour before you know it!)
Anyhow, I love it’s earthyness and this is my Chickweed version of a classic Middle Eastern parsley, walnut and tahini sauce. Use parsley instead, if you want to.
Today I had some of it with Fried Chicken, mustard slaw and chicory leaves. (such good flavour combinations!) It’s also a brilliant sauce for barbecued food…..or use it as a dip…..on pasta….with boiled or poached eggs…..stirred into mash potato…on top of soup…salad dressing….
….make by hand or by processor….
Wild Chickweed, Toasted Pecan and Lemon Teradot
- 50 g pecans
- 1 large clove garlic
- A handful (about 50 g) chickweed, or flat leaf parsley, washed and chopped roughly. (it’s important to chop, as chickweed is quite stringy)
- 1 ½ tablespoons tahini (speciality section in supermarkets now)
- 6-8 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon or 1 small preserved lemon (speciality section in supermarkets now)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Get the oven on. 180 C/gas 4/350 F. Then drop the pecans on a tray and pop in the oven for 5 minutes and put a timer on as you’ll probably forget. (and burnt nuts are revolting nuts.) Check the nuts and put back in if needed, (and timer on), til when you break a nut open, they are golden brown on the inside. Tip out onto a plate to cool.
2. Peel and roughly crush the garlic and throw into a food processor with the pecans and a pinch of salt and whiz until until finely chopped. Throw in the chopped chickweed and whiz again until finely chopped.
3. Scrape into a bowl, stir in the tahini, 6 tablespoons olive oil and squeeze in the juice of half the lemon. Check seasoning and add more lemon juice and olive oil, if you fancy it. If using the preserved lemon instead, remove the skin, (and get rid of the lemon pulp) chop finely and stir into the sauce.
Little note… If you want to make this by hand, either crush the garlic, nuts and chickweed using a pestle and mortar, or just chop everything very finely and then mix with wet ingredients.
….recipe coming for version of this with Parmesan replacing the tahini, so more like a Pesto…