Whilst out walking with a friend last week, I spotted a familiar plant and said to her,
I really should know what that is. A few days later, browsing the Guardian Forager's calendar, I picked on
Fat hen to look up. Aha! The same plant! That one didn't take long to resolve.
This very common plant has many names, including Lamb's quarters in the US, and I was somewhat tempted to choose
Dirty Dick from the available options, especially as
Fat hen can also apply to other, related species. However, I'll stick with Fat hen mainly because I've heard of it being eaten, and I think I've a fair chance of remembering it.
This is described as a leaf vegetable somewhat similar to spinach, so I decided to make soup out of it and gathered a fair-ish quantity from the roadside where I first spotted it. Not the ideal place for foraging, but I couldn't be bothered to walk any further. I tried to minimise other ingredients so as to get a good idea of how the new food tastes, but even so I ended up with onion, chicken stock, and a spoonful of rather elderly mascarpone cheese in my soup. These might have been responsible for the delicious flavour, but I'm inclined to attribute it to the fat hen. It's a milder flavour than spinach and the leaves are a little more robust, so don't cook down to quite such a soggy much, even in soup. I will definitely be cooking this again.
Also harvesting this week:
Elderflowers (to make champagne)
Bracken (there are hardly any of the fiddleheads left now)
Nettles (also at the end of the season - they're mostly flowering)
Plantain flower heads (in chicken stock)
Bay herb ale
Foraged food challenge summary page here.