Monday, July 4, 2011

Lambsquarters Pasta with Pesto!


In Cooking From the Garden Camp making our own pasta is always one of the highlights. This year we have an abundance of a highly nutritious "weed" called Lambsquarters. I have let it go to seed in the garden to the point that it is just about everywhere. That's fine with us since it is excellent fodder for the chickens, ducks and rabbit. Better yet, it's highly nutritious food for us!

We intentionally got our first plant as a weed in a seedling from the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (www.oaec.org). They grow the variety called Magenta Lambsquarters (Chenopodium Giganteum). In our garden these plants grow as tall as 6 feet. They are super high in Vitamin C and A and are loaded with minerals too. Around here we call Lambsquarters a "superfood". They are so nutritious that friends have been making green smoothies with them. The kids love the magenta variety because they contain a pink powdery substance at the growth center of each leaf. This powder comes off with their fingers and they like to paint their faces with it. They love being able to paint their faces and then pop the leaf in their mouth and eat it. Even the seeds can be eaten as a source of protein and minerals. One half cup of seed contains 19.6 grams of protein, 1036 milligrams of Calcium, 1687 milligrams of Potassium and 27.1 grams of fiber. They can be ground and used as a hot cereal or added to bread. One plant produces seeds like you wouldn't believe and brings Bushtits and Chickadees to the garden in droves. Just yesterday the kids were happy to find the more common variety (Chenopodium album) growing in our favorite forage field.

So... back to the pasta! We harvested our Lambsquarters and steamed it up to use instead of spinach for making green pasta. While we were in the garden we also harvested Italian Parsley, Cilantro, and Chickweed with which to make pesto.

Into the pasta dough went our pureed Lambsquarters and homegrown duck eggs. The kids love making anything they can get their hands gooey in!


A little muscle went into kneading the dough.


Then, even more muscle went into cranking out the pasta.


First, they made sheets of pasta then they ran it through the linguine cutter and hung it up to dry a bit.


Counting the noodles was a fun task. They counted 109!


I refrigerated the pasta in an air-tight container overnight. For lunch the next day we boiled it up, topped it with our pesto and a little grated Pecorino-Romano. They devoured it all! It was hit!

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