New York

Lamb’s Quarters: Foods You Can Forage for In NYC

Ecologist and SideTour host “Wildman” Steve Brill knows where to find a good meal in the city: in the local parks. We’ve been counting down Steve’s top 10 foods to forage for in NYC, and today he’s serving up the greens known as lamb’s quarters.

Lamb’s quarters

How to find it This European relative of spinach and beets bears large quantities of edible, spinach-flavored leaves you can collect from mid-spring to late fall. Urban and suburban parks feature this “weed” in un-manicured sunny areas. You can also find it along roadsides, in overgrown fields, backyards, on disturbed soil and in vacant lots. The shape of the leaves resembles a butcher’s cut of lamb called the quarter. If it carries a resinous smell of pine or turpentine, steer clear: You’ve identified another plant, epazote, which is a traditional herb in Mexico, but poisonous if consumed in large quantities.

How to eat it Much like spinach, you can eat the young leaves and stems in mid-spring, when this annual plant first appears. Add them to salads or steam 5 to 10 minutes until just wilted, add seasonings and serve as a vegetable side dish. It’s one of the best sources of beta-carotene, calcium, potassium and iron in the world, and also a great source of trace minerals, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C and fiber.

Want another helping? Follow along as we post Steve’s top 10 wild edibles, and look back at yellow wood sorrel and chicken mushrooms. You can also sign up for Steve’s SideTour experience, or download his definitive smartphone app, Wild Edibles (for iOS and Android).

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