Food from the Backyard - Edible Weeds
We all know how important eating fresh greens is, but those bags of "mixed greens" in the grocery store can be a bit pricey. Well, of course you can grow your own salad greens, but sometimes nature provides fresh greens in unexpected places. For instance, your front lawn.
Weeds are just wild plants growing somewhere we don't expect or want them. Often these plants are quite edible and even tasty. As a rule of thumb, the younger the weed the better it will taste, and don't eat anything you haven't clearly identified. Please remember to only eat weeds growing in soil that hasn't been sprayed with pesticides. So, when foraging for edible weeds avoid public parks and your neighbors who spray these maligned plants.
Many upscale supermarkets now sell “dandelion greens” for absurd prices. It's amazing that anyone would consider spending money for a plant that regularly invades every yard in America. Why pay for what's growing in the lawn already?
Purslane is easy to find by midsummer. A rubbery weed with pink stems that clings low to the ground, purslane is very nutritious and has a tasty, tangy flavor. All parts are edible. It can be eaten raw, cooked or added to soups.
Pigweed is a common summer annual and a variety of amaranth. Pigweed can be bitter so you may prefer it cooked.
There are several different species, all are edible raw, but they're a little mealy on the surface if you don't cook them. They have a nice mild flavor and can be cooked up like spinach with a little butter. A relative called epazote has a narrower leaf and is a common addition to beans in Mexican cooking.
This is that yellow flower mustard that pops up everywhere when we have a wet spring. London Rocket tastes a bit like arugula, and can be spicy. You can eat the leaves raw or lightly sautéed.
ForagingPictures.com - Plenty of photos of edible and medicinal plants, as well as the inedible and poisonous ones you should avoid.
Western Edible Wild Plants by H.D. Harrington
Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West by Gregory Tilford
Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide by Thomas Elias and Peter Dykeman
Going to Seed: Finding, Identifying, and Preparing Edible Plants of the Southwest by Kahanah Farnsworth
A Taste of Nature: Edible Plants of the Southwest and How to Prepare Them by Kahanah Farnsworth