A Noble Scientific Experiment

In which I experiment on myself…

This magnificent weed appeared in the same spot as the smaller version that grew last year. I was pretty certain it wasn’t anything we had planted. 

I asked about it on Google+ and +Andreas Katifes said “We eat that!”

Then, being a cautious type, I asked one of my brothers, who is a famous botanist, and he confirmed it’s a sow thistle, or Sonchus, and is edible.

In fact, it’s one of the kinds of plant that you get in Greek tavernas, served as “Horta”. I rather like it when I’m in Greece, so I decided to give it a try.

I picked a good big bunch, and washed it thoroughly in cold water. It’s growing fairly near our bird feeders, and I didn’t fancy eating anything the birds might have garnished it with. It’s quite impressive how well it repels water; the bits in the picture have been underwater several times.

I picked the best looking parts of my harvest, getting rid of some of the bigger stems and tough, old leaves. Here it is, in water in a stainless steel pan, with some salt and a teaspoon of chopped garlic. There’s nothing fancy to any of the horta recipes I found online; bring it to the boil, and give it however many minutes of that you think best. Some recipes say half an hour, others as little as ten minutes. I settled for fifteen minutes.

And here’s the result!

It has shrunk down quite a lot, the way spinach does. I’ve dressed it with some Greek extra virgin olive oil, and a splash of lemon juice.

I really enjoyed it. It was very similar to the horta I’ve eaten in Greece, which I’m pretty partial to. I think it would be even better if I located a few more of the different weeds that the Greeks use, and mixed them in. I also think ten minutes would have been plenty of time to cook it.

Don’t just rip weeds out of your garden and dump them. See if they can be eaten, that’s my advice.