One of my favorite things to do after work on a long, languid afternoon of summer is to gather a fresh, wild salad for the evening meal. I always add plenty of lambsquarters to my basket. Her curvy, velvety leaves create a mild base for other, stronger tasting salad greens like dandelion.
Lambsquarters is abundant during the late spring and summer season. The beguiling, undulating leaves—often tinted with just a touch of magenta—have the appearance of a webbed goosefoot, hence her botanical name, Chenopodium album, which translates as “goose foot powder”. The powder refers to a chalky coating that appears on the underside of the leaves. It’s a good way to identify her and also gives a hint to one of her nutritional benefits; lambsquarters is high in calcium.
This is a good thing, particularly because lambsquarters is a native ancestor of spinach. She shares many of the same health benefits but, like spinach, contains some oxalic acid. The high level of calcium in lambsquarters helps to neutralize that component. Like spinach, she’s wonderful cooked as well, and her tender leaves make a wonderful dish when sautéed with some garlic and olive oil (to provide healthy fats which increase absorption of the minerals and nutrients).