Weed Cuisine

Edible weeds are everywhere these days, the plant-world analogues to once-reviled offal. While purslane and dandelion greens are standard fare in some places, Farmer Andy of the ever-fun Ladybug Letter (now a blog as well as an email newsletter) raises the new-to-me idea of cooking with tumbleweeds, those iconic symbols of desolation. As he explains, they’re also superinvasive in their native lands:

The tumbleweed plant is a tender herb when young, and grows into a stiff round ball of stems that breaks loose from the soil when the autumn winds blow, so that the plant can roll across the landscape, spreading seeds. The following spring the old severed roots sprout new growth, and the tumbleweed’s dispersed seeds sprout in new locations.

Using these weeds as food is not a new idea, Andy says. Young tumbleweeds “are often eaten back home on the steppes, cooked like spinach.” He’s now growing a tumbleweed relative called agretti, which Italians use in salads or omelets, for A16 in San Francisco. The next step: “I’m also going to drive out to the Panoche Valley, east of Hollister, in the fall and gather the seed of some tumbleweeds.”

I’m curious to try some, but alas, there aren’t too many rolling across the plains of Brooklyn.

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