Good King Henry and Lamb’s quarters

Botanists call them Chenopodium bonus-henricus and Chenopodium album, but common names include Good-King-Henry, Poor-man’s Asparagus, Perennial Goosefoot, Lincolnshire Spinach, Markery, English mercury, Mercury goosefoot, and Lamb’s quarters, Melde, White goosefoot, Fat-hen and Pigweed.

The succulent Good King Henry is fairly common in mountain areas but Lamb’s quarters can be found everywhere, and is considered a pesky weed in vegetable gardens. Both of them are a highly nutritious food source!

That’s why I made this recipe: i pulled off some weeds in my vegetable garden and got a handful of Lamb’s quarters. Not happy with that, I mowed the lawn and accidentally cut some Good King Henry plants…gosh!

I don’t want to waste it.

Leaves are the edible part of both species of “wild spinach”. Find more information is in “Species Profiles”

Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus) and Lamb's quarters (Chenopodium album)
Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus) and Lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium album)

Drop Dumplings: cheap and easy!

First time I tasted these gnocchi was at Giovanni’s home, some years ago, and I was struck by the ease of this recipe. He told me that it’s a traditional peasant dish, the one you made in mountain hut, where there was no fridge and the only vegetable you could reach was the one you had right out of the door. Terrific!

Enough to arouse a citizen’s romantic imagination… Today I added some Elderflowers and lunch is ready!

Good King Henry and Lamb's quarters Gnocchi dumplings with Elderflowers
Good King Henry and Lamb’s quarters Gnocchi dumplings with Elderflowers

Good King Henry Gnocchi with Elderflowers recipe

Ingredients:

  • 100 gr Good King Henry and Lamb’s quarters
  • 40 gr Breadcrumbs
  • 60 gr All-purpose Flour
  • 1 egg
  • Nutmeg
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt

Per guarnire:

  • 2 Elderflowers
  • Butter (melted) or Olive Oil

Directions:

Cook wild spinach for some minutes in a large frying pan with half a glass of water and a pinch of salt. Then drain and squeeze well.

Cook wild spinach in a large frying pan, to keep nutrients
Cook wild spinach in a large frying pan, to keep nutrients

Put all the ingredients in a food processor, exept elderflowers and butter, which will be the last garnishment. Blend until smooth: the mixture should be holding together well, but still a bit sticky.

Let it rest for about 10 minutes. In the meantime bring salted water to a boil in a large pot.

Everything in the food processor
Everything in the food processor: the mixture should be holding together well, but still a bit sticky

Using 2 teaspoons dipped in water, drop small spoonfuls of the dough into the boiling water. The trick is to be very quick! That’s how I do it: I dip one spoon in the boiling water, take a small olive size clump of dough and scrape it into the boiling water. Repeat a dozen times or so.

Once the gnocchi bob to the top, cook until just tender, about 2 minutes, than drain. Put them in the dishes, pour the melted butter over the gnocchi (or some olive oil, if you like), garnish with elderflowers and serve immediately.

Good King Henry and Lamb’s quarters Gnocchi dumplings with Elderflowers

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