Spring is a time of optimism, rising energy, and anticipation. The energy of spring is for generating change and growth, both in nature and in ourselves. Spring is the time for planting dreams and watching them grow.
We can take advantage of the early spring weeds to make nourishing, healing foods. Chickweed is a great-tasting weed that offers plenty of flavor and nutrition. Making chickweed pesto is a great way to enjoy this early spring weed.
Life isn’t about finding yourself. It’s about creating yourself. ~George Bernard Shaw
Chickweed – A Simple Nourishing Weed
Traditional cultures looked forward to taking in the fresh green plants erupting in the early spring. After a winter of heavy foods and root vegetables, many of the earliest greens provided much-needed nutrients and today we have scientific insights into their immune-boosting and cleansing properties. Most of the nourishing early spring greens are currently regarded as weeds, and we can often find them in our own backyards.
Today I want to share a favorite weed – Stellaria media, commonly known as Chickweed. Chickweed is the first herb plant my youngest daughter learned to use. At age three, we had just identified a large batch of chickweed growing in a shady patch at the meeting place for our weekly home school cooperative. Minutes later, my daughter fell and skinned her knees. I gently picked her up and placed her on the picnic table, talking to her in my soothing mother voice as she tried to hide her tears from her friends. She promptly hopped down, quietly picked and chewed some chickweed, and made herself a nice little spit poultice to place over her bleeding knees. No more owies.
Chickweed is great medicine for owies, but is also very nutritive. Chickweed is high in vitamin C and iron, and the B-complex vitamins.
The taste is somewhat like cucumber, with the same cooling properties. Chickweed is great added to salads, similar in texture to fresh sprouts. It can be chopped small and added to eggs and other dishes as a fresh garnish.
Although chickweed grows year-round in my home state of Virginia, I find the best flavor and growth is in the spring time, just as it is forming flower buds. One way to enjoy and preserve this abundant herb is to make pesto, which can be frozen.
Small ground-hugging, green herb with heavily branching stems, chickweed typically grows in patches and prefers shady spots. You can find a single line of “hairs” on one side of the stem which switches with the other side of the stem after each leaf node. Leaves are opposite on the stem joint and the flowers are white and delicate.
Simple Chickweed Pesto
This pesto stays bright green, even after freezing!
2 cups fresh chickweed
2 cloves garlic
1/2 – 1 cup olive oil
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup walnuts
Place all in a blender
I like to freeze these in small batches in 4-oz jelly jars. Another idea is to freeze in ice-cube trays, then remove and store in a freezer bag.
Corina at Marblemount Homestead has a Delicious and Nourishing Nettle Pesto Recipe, and she shares why Nettle is great food and medicine! – Nettle Pesto