'Duckweed' plus Spinach and Cheese Pie

Our dam is covered in duckweed at the moment, which I find fascinating. It started to appear over summer and I kept thinking it was fallen wattle blooms that were taking a long time to soak up into the water (a really long time!!). It wasn't until a friend came over and stuck her hand in there for a scoop that we actually realised it was indeed an aquatic plant we had on our hands, or in hers, as the case turned out to be.

Duckweed  (Lemnaoideae), multiplies very fast when conditions are right. I have been concerned that we may be harbouring a weed, although at the moment the positives seem to be outweighing any negatives (such as aesthetics). It serves as a useful food for the ducks, it draws up the nutrients in the water that the ducks inevitibly leave behind, it has screened the surface of the water over summer from the hot sun, lessening evaporation and algae growth. We're not sure where exactly it came from, but it has certainly made itself at home on our dam.

duckweed covered dam
A recent visit to the local plant nursery found them selling azolla, a similar water plant, in a wine barrel filled with water! Apparently customers can scoop out a portion and take it home for their ponds or bird baths. After discussing the plant at quite some length with the man behind the counter, it was established that the plant should die back over winter and may or may not re-grow in the following Spring. Growth is unpredictable and varies from one season to the next.


close up of duckweed

..and from the top. Quite pretty in it's own way.
So, at least now I know just what exactly it is on our dam I can stop waiting (and waiting!) for that pesky wattle blossom to break down!

I also wanted to share the following pie recipe here in addition to jotting it down for my own records.
This spinach and cheese pie is an easy one to make that uses ingredients straight from the garden. My favourite kind of recipe! A good friend actually made it for me when my spirits needed lifting a few weeks ago and I've made it a few times since, varying it to my own tastes..it's just sooo good. And cheesy, very cheesy. Not the best pie to eat if dieting, but one that will surely get the small people of the house eating their greens.....

Did I mention cheesy?

Fresh greens, leeks, herbs and fresh eggs - a true veggie garden dinner!
The best thing about this pie (besides pleasing the ever present vegetarians), is that you can use whatever you have growing in the veggie patch. The recipe calls for spinach, but who grows true English spinach in our area? We use silverbeet (or chard as it also goes by). My friend also throws in parsley and beetroot leaves, along with any other greens that are around in her garden at the time of picking. Wash them, chop them and spin dry them in the salad spinner and you're good to go.

It's also a great recipe for using up perennial leeks  in place of the spring onions, and we all know how generous they are!

Spinach and Cheese Pie
(Chop and change your ingredients, according to what you have growing or available)

1 bunch of fresh garden greens, about 6-8 large silverbeet leaves, or the equivelent in other greens
6 spring onions - again, substitute leeks if you have them growing, sliced
olive oil, for sauteeing
5-6 eggs, depending on their size
250g feta, crumbled
250g cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup good parmesan, finely grated
a handful of chopped fresh parsley, chopped
1 sprig of rosemary or several of thyme, finely chopped
salt/pepper
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
milk for brushing

Preheat oven to 180c. Prepare the greens by washing them well and shaking dry. Chop roughly (removing any stalks) and spin dry them in a salad spinner. Further drying them on a clean tea towel will reward you with a pie that isn't in the least bit soggy.

Saute the leeks/spring onions in a generous splash of olive oil over low heat until tender. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a very large mixing bowl, whisk eggs then add cheeses, spinach/greens, parsley, rosemary, leeks and salt/pepper. Mix well. Place into a greased lasagna dish or rectangular pyrex (the medium to largish size, you know the one I mean) and smooth out.  Place pastry on top, overlapping in the centre. Brush with milk and bake for 40 mins approx, until top is golden brown and the smell of your cheesy pie is making the stomachs in the house growl.

May be served warm or cold.

Comments

  1. Hi Christine, what I call duckweed, and what I call azolla, are different plants. It looks to me as if what you have is duckweed (Lemna minor), not azolla (Azolla filiculoides). Both are great plants though - they prevent water becoming over-nutrient rich. Ducks like duckweed better (and my chooks love it), but azolla is symbiotic with a nitrogen fixing bacteria so it works in compost like an animal manure. I've got some pictures of azolla on my dam here.

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  2. To show my ignorance and hopefully give you a laugh, I will candidly tell you that when I read your post title I thought Azolla was going to be a kind of goat or sheep cheese that was incorporated in the pie.
    I now know better and found your post interesting, thank you.

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  3. Ahh, many thanks, Linda. I wasn't 100% sure, it was more of a calculated guess. I'll amend the post so as not to confuse people. It's great to know that we still have a 'good guy' on our hands.. I was a little concerned. This is good news! :)

    Not to worry, Tanya, I wouldn't have had a clue what azolla was either if I hadn't gone hunting for clues on aquatic plants. A goats cheese is sounding lovely for the pie, though! :)

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  4. I had a laugh too as I thought you was using duckweed in the cheese and spinach pie......I had never heard of eating it before :0)

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  5. Oh cheesy goodness, why do you taunt me so?

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  6. Oh thank goodness, I was reading thinking.."hmmm...I'm not sure you can eat duckweed.." :)

    Pie looks very yummy indeed! And will you please go back to calling your dam a lake? It's far more satisfying to my inner romantic.. hahaha

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  7. Haha, this'll teach me not to combine posts! Mmmm, duckweed, a newfound culinary delight..! ;)

    Really, Celia, it IS a dam... now the next door neighbours on the other hand...they have a lake!!

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  8. HAHA I am with Debbie on this one.. I to thought you were putting it in your pie, had to have a double take. I love duckweed, and used to source it from odd places to put in my fish pond when I lived in NZ, the fish loved it.

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  9. :-)

    To confuse things even further duckweed actually is human edible. It's very high in protein, we also feed it to our chickens, and tastes vaguely alfalfaish.

    Kind Regards
    Belinda

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Hi there, so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Christine x

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