Spaghetti with Lambsquarters Marinara

This is the story of how I got my kids to eat weeds.


No one could rightly call my kids “picky eaters”. My younger son’s favorite snack is sardines in mustard sauce. My daughter begs for kimbap and taro ice cream. My kids happily eat squid, kimchi, and stinky cheeses. However, due to my adventurous palate and my devotion to introducing them to new foods on a regular basis, they are… cautious. Probably too many times they’ve asked “What’s in this?” and my reply has been “Try it! You’ll like it!”


So I’ve devised a strategy that seems to work. Hide the weird new food in a form that the kids are already familiar with!


Lambsquarters is a semi-domesticated cultivated weed. There are several varieties grown for food, I think mine is Chenopodium giganteum, magenta lambsquarters. There is a closely-related Chenopodium native to the Americas also cultivated as a food plant with a short growth habit and narrower leaves, but I think most of what I’ve seen is white lambsquarters, which is native to Europe. Most lambsquarters are not quite so “wild” as the weeds we forage in the woods. I have gathered them growing as a weed in rows of other cultivated vegetables on organic farms but I’ve never seen them in uncultivated areas. I grew this from seed purchased from the Edible Plant Project. Magenta lambsquarters are vigorous, beautiful, and extremely nutritious. However, they also have a unique texture… they’re covered in a fuzzy pink down that repels water and they’re sturdy like kale when cooked.


Spaghetti with Lambsquarters Marinara

1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce,  homemade or store-bought
1/4 c cream
2 large sprigs each of fresh basil and parsley
2 large bunches of fresh lambsquarters
1 tbl salt
1 lb hot cooked spaghetti
Grated parmesan

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Fill your sink with a few inches of cold water. Carefully pull the lambsquarters leaves and growth tips off of the hard stems. Discard the stems (put them in the compost!). Dump the leaves into the cold water and swish them around well, then lift them out of the cold water to leave behind sand and bugs. Blanch the leaves only until they’re wilted and bright green, then immediately submerge in cold water. When cooled, drain well and chop the leaves.

Heat the marinara sauce over medium-low heat until barely bubbling. Stir in the cream and the chopped lambsquarters. Turn off the heat. Rinse and chop the basil and parsley and stir the fresh herbs into the sauce. Serve immediately over hot cooked pasta and top with plenty of parmesan.

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