Chickweed is also called chickenwort. It got its name because chickens and other birds love it. The fact that it tastes like corn silk may have something to do with their affinity for the herb. Chickweed is full of nutrients including a high level of vitamin C. And it’s an easy green to use because of its relatively mild flavor. Here are some of the many chickweed uses:
As a salad green
The mild flavor and crisp texture of chickweed make it an excellent salad ingredient. You can add it to balance out more assertive greens like arugula and radicchio. Its corn silk taste can keep your salad from becoming too bitter.
Chickweed makes a great pesto and works best in combination with flavorful herbs like basil since it’s taste is on the delicate side, but you can use it by itself. It’s bright green color gives pesto an attractive color. Simply add it to your food processor with herbs, pine nuts and other traditional pesto ingredients.
As a substitute for spinach in quiche
Recipes for the classic French quiche often require spinach, which has a flavor almost as subdued as that of chickweed. Chickweed is the perfect substitute because of its mildness. Not only does it provide an equally attractive green color, but it can also offer a more impressive texture to go with it. There is a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch chickweed pie recipe that bears a strong resemblance to quiches.
As the green element in sandwiches
If you like your sandwiches with a green component, chickweed is a solid option. It can give you its attractive color and crunchy texture while not distracting too much from the main ingredients.
You can stir-fry most leafy greens as a way to soften them slightly without altering the raw texture too much and chickweed is no exception. One benefit of stir-frying it is that you can beef up the mild flavor with onions and other more pungent ingredients. Because of its tenderness and flavor, it is best to stir-fry chickweed for an even shorter period than is required for other greens. Try 30 seconds or a minute at the most.
To make soups
Chickweed does a fine job in soups. Add it at the very end of cooking time to keep it from becoming too soft.
In chickweed vinegar
Chickweed vinegar was at one point in history kept on ships by sailors as an alternative to fresh fruit. It helped them to avoid scurvy. Whether or not you are at risk for scurvy, you can use chickweed vinegar in the same ways that you would use any other kind of herbed vinegar. Add it to a vinaigrette or sprinkle it on your fries.
As a tea herb
Like most highly nutritious herbs, chickweed is good for making tea in addition to being an edible green. It isn’t bitter, which means that you don’t have to worry about it being unpalatable without a sweetener. You can use fresh or dried chickweed to make tea.
Baked into bread
Quiche is not the only baked good you can make with chickweed as it lends itself to bread recipes. Simply add it to a standard dough to enhance its nutritional value and attractiveness.
Chickweed is enjoyable when sauteed on its own or with other foraged herbs like dandelion greens. When combined with the strongly flavored dandelion greens, chickweed cuts down on the bitterness to make the flavor milder.