A weed is considered “any wild plant growing where it is not valued”. How can you not value every bit of green that grows in the desert? Yes some plants command your respect by stabbing you when you are not paying attention, but the miracle is still evident. I consider every plant that grows to be a living illustration of fairy magick at work and I see Mother Nature smiling back at me every time I look at a plant.
I love weeds! Many plants that are commonly referred to as weeds are oftentimes our most beneficial healers. One way to take in the healing power of plants is to eat your weeds. More specifically eat your cheeseweed! That’s right…cheeseweed, otherwise known as Malva parviflora, a sub-species of the mallow family. Look for the dark green leaves rounded in 5 to 7 sections with jagged edges. Soon after you will see the white, 5 petal flowers followed by disk-like fruits that resemble small cheese rounds. Hence the name, Cheeseweed.
Medicinal uses of mallows can be traced back to Greece and Rome. Today we recognize the benefits as an anti-inflammatory for the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems as well as a gargle for irritations of the mouth and throat. Mallows are known for reducing mucous and boosting the immune system.
The many species of mallow are eaten all around the world, a treat in Chinese, Italian and French cuisine. While the leaves are slightly hairy and therefore an acquired taste raw, they are wonderful when steamed, fried or sautéed in olive oil. Chop up the leaves, sauté with oregano and garlic and add to scrambled eggs or in the body of an omelet. The fruits can be eaten raw in salads or cooked up like peas.
My favorite way to serve up this particular weed is Cheeseweed chips!
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Wash and thoroughly dry a batch of small to medium size leaves with a salad spinner.
- Drizzle cheeseweed with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate trays as the thin pieces of cheeseweed will quickly brown in your oven’s hot spots. Check again after 3 minutes. You want them to be crisp but not brown.