Working with or against Nature? (fat hen spanakopita)

I visited my parents place over the Christmas period had a really nice relaxing time. Foraged some items, took the family to a few different places but mostly just relaxed.

My father is the king of the drip system. He has beautiful rich red volcanic soil that is free draining, very free draining as such he tends to drip water the plants and along with 40 plus years of adding organic matter to the soil means his vegies grow incredibly well.

Because of this he also has minimal weed issues how ever one thing I did note that fat hen sometimes called lambs ear (Chenopodium album), dock and the purslane where doing really well. IMG_9318-2000

I grabbed some purslane to plant at my place and grabbed a large bag of fat hen which I made into spanakopita (recipe below).

To me it is interesting that this high protein crop that by my father’s admission (he is a rabid anti weed man 🙂 ) the chickens and sheep love is torn out spayed out and treated with disdain.

And there it is growing without water or love and just doings its own good thing. From a point of view of plants we are going to have to start to look at what will work by itself without lots of inputs or work and this is potentially a great option for fodder and food. The broad acre style of farming the crops you want rather that what will grow easily is simply not going to hold true in the long run.

And much to my father annoyance his granddaughter loves the fresh leaves of this plant and now it is naturalised in my back yard we have access to it for salads, cooking or as fodder for the chickens.

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As for the taste of the spanakopita. A. and I made up two batches of rolls and a pie with a half side fat hen and half spinach and apart from being slightly more beefy texture the kids and wife could not tell them apart and all was eaten.

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This is one good weed.

Recipe for Fat Hen (or spinach) Spanakopita.

  • Packet of filo or puff pastry (or if you are a better cook than me make your own 🙂 )
  • 3 eggs
  • 150 gram of feta
  • 75 grams of ricotta
  • 75 grams of quark cheese (could use another 75 grams of ricotta)
  • 2 bunches of spinach or equivalent or more of fat hen.( I like lots of green in my mix) shredded.
  • Butter melted and a brush
  • Two onions finely diced.
  • 1 or 2 Sprigs of mint finely sliced (to taste)
  • 1 or 2 Sprigs of dill finely sliced (to taste)
  • Dash of nutmeg.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.

Mix all ingredients apart from the melted butter and pastry in a large bowl.

Lay out the filo or puff pastry. If using filo make sure you keep a damp towel over it put brushed melted butter over each sheet as you layer them. A. helped me with this process as two people make this easier. We use 3 or so layers for a roll and 3 or so layers top and then same bottom in a pie. Puff pastry is just one layer.

Spoon mix onto the pastry sheets and roll or make into pies. Do not over fill.

Butter top and make sure you butter the tray they are sitting on.

Put in an oven at 150 to 170 degrees Celsius till cooked through and browned (about 45 minutes) slow cook is a better option for your health than the western desire to deep fry/fast cook everything.

Once cooked leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving with a nice salad.

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