Is creeping bellflower taking over your yard and garden?
The extremely productive, invasive weed is a common frustration of Calgary gardeners, who have a hard time getting rid of it, as each stem produces up to 15,000 seeds.
If you’ve had enough, there’s good news: you can eat it.
The leafy greens are mild with little flavor, making them suitable for soups, stews, pastas – even salads.
The tender leaves are suitable both raw and cooked, are high in fiber and vitamin C and can be used together with other vegetables and herbs. For example, they can be placed in lasagna or spread in pesto with fresh basil.
The younger, smaller leaves are more tender, but even the larger, more established plants are fine for cooking. And if you wait long enough, you’ll have beautiful purple bell-shaped flowers that you can use as an edible garnish.
We were talking about edible weeds on the Calgary Eye Opener this week.
Look around your garden and you may find a plethora of other edible plants as well.
Those edible weeds include dandelions, lamb’s quarters (with textured leaves, they taste a bit like nutty spinach), purslane (a web of small leaves, it’s high in omega 3 fatty acids) and plantain, which has flat, smooth, ribbed dark green leaves. which tend to lie flat on the ground and crawl between sidewalk crevices.
Just make sure you know what they are and they haven’t been sprayed with a weed killer, and you could have a free supply of good-for-you veggies all summer long.
Calgary Eye Opener9:20Julie van Rosendaal about weeds
Summer Greens Spanakopita
Here’s an easy spanakopita recipe that you can make with any combination of leafy greens and herbs – spinach, kale, Swiss chard, bellflower, plantain, fresh mint, basil, parsley, cilantro, and so on.
This is a streamlined way to make spanakopita. There is no need to cook the greens first.
If you prefer, you can put a crushed clove of garlic in your ramekin with butter or oil to infuse it before brushing it over your filo pastry.
- 8 cups (approx.) fresh vegetables – spinach, kale, Swiss chard, creeping bellflower, plantain, fresh mint or other herbs
- 1 shallot, finely chopped (or about purple onion)
- 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½-1 cup crumbled feta
- Olive oil, melted butter or a combination, for drizzling and brushing
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 6 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Tear your greens into a large bowl, add the shallot, garlic and feta, drizzle liberally with oil (or even melted butter), season with salt and pepper and squeeze with your hands to combine. Brush it with oil and break the greens.
Place a sheet of phyllo dough in a baking dish (or deep pie plate) about 9 inches in diameter or equivalent in volume, letting the excess phyllo hang over the edges.
Brush the bottom (and part of the sides, if you like) with oil or melted butter and place another sheet on top, at a different angle, so that the sides extend over an uncovered part of the pan.
Brush with butter or oil and top with a third piece of phyllo, brush that too (if you like – or skip it).
Stack the crumpled vegetables in the filo dough, then fold over the sides that hang over the edge of the pan. Pinch and place three more sheets of phyllo dough, covering any exposed fillings, and brush or drizzle with more oil or butter.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and heated through.