I do enjoy chickweed. The plant is delightfully lush yet delicate, it grows abundantly in early summer, and both leaves and young stems are so delicately crunchy. I could munch (and have done) on fistfuls of it while weeding in the garden.
How much better it might be to call it by its Latin name, Stellaria. Don’t you find that much prettier than “chickweed”? A plant named after a star, the star-shaped tiny white flower that comes in bloom soon after the plant matures. Not that I mind the idea of eating weeds – they are so easy to grow, ready far before any crops you might plant, and many of them taste quite good.
This Summer I have the pleasure of working on an organic farm in Beverley, East Yorkshire. I was able to bring home piles of chickweed, and I sure did have some fun with it. I ate a lot in salads, but also wanted the rest of the family to enjoy the many minerals and vitamins in and thus health benefits of Stellaria media. My girls love pesto, so chickweed pesto was on the menu. Thank goodness I sprang for an old Moulinex food processor at the “car-boot sale” in Walkington several weeks ago – a huge bargain at three pounds.
~3 cups freshly picked young chickweed leaves and stems
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons almond flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
zest of half or whole lemon
Wash the chickweed leaves and stems and shake dry, then cut roughly in to sections several inches long each. Cutting the stems into shorter pieces prevents the chickweed from getting wound around the blades of the food processor. Pulse in food processor a few times to reduce it in size, then add the garlic and almond flour and salt and pulse again to blend. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until pesto reaches the consistency you desire. I like to leave it a bit chunky for both taste and texture. You may wish to add a bit more olive oil, or salt, or garlic, as your taste buds dictate.
Serve on top of crackers or on cucumber rounds, underneath a poached egg, or any way that catches your fancy.
I made extra batches – one to put in jars in the fridge, covered with a bit of olive oil to create a seal to prevent spoilage, and one batch that I portioned out into baggies for the freezer for future use.