The simpler the food, the harder it is to prepare it well. You want to truly taste what it is you’re eating. So that goes back to the trend of fine ingredients. It’s very Japanese: Preparing good ingredients very simply, without distractions from the flavor of the ingredient itself. (Joel Robuchon)
It sounds a wee bit silly as I write this, but one the of the commitments I made to myself at the beginning of the year was to try cooking with new ingredients. Regularly. That is: ingredients I have never prepared myself before. I just seem to have this rotation of the same old recipes. They work, but that’s what I cook. I’m sure I’m not alone in this – cooking takes time, and sometimes the last thing you want to do is get creative after a long day. But, this year I’m going to try new things!
Don’t worry, though. I’m not planning on going crazy. Today, I’m starting with Sorrel…
LM, Bella and I tootled off on our weekly farmers market jaunt this week. One of our regular and favourite stops is at the Darling Mills Farm stall. Their range of herbs, salad greens and edible flowers are always so tempting that it generally takes me a few minutes to make a decision as to just what goodies I’m going to pick up for the week. This week, they had some lovely looking sorrel hiding in the back corner. So, after a wee taste test (lemony and sour) and without having the faintest idea what I was going to do with it, I bought some…
Don’t know what sorrel is? – Sorrel looks a little bit like spinach but is actually an herb. While it can apparently be available year-round, it is at its youngest and mildest in spring. It’s not the kind of leafy green you’ll readily find at the supermarket, though.
It’s sourness comes from high levels of oxalic acid. It is also high in vitamin A and contains some calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C.
According to the very fabulous Yotam Ottolenghi, “as with lemon juice, the more sorrel you use, the more it has to be balanced with something sweet, starchy or creamy. For sorrel to shine in a spring soup, say, the onions must be softened slowly, so their natural sweetness comes out, while you need the addition of potatoes or haricot beans to cushion the sorrel’s kick.”
In my search for just the right introduction to sorrel, I discovered it is often found in creamy soups, fish stuffings, omelets, salads and sauces. Who would’ve known? Younger sorrel is more often cooked and served like spinach, or added raw in salads. Older, more acidic sorrel is better in creamy soups where the addition of sour cream is said to reduce some of the more tart overtones.
Clean sorrel like spinach – folding each leaf in half lengthwise and stripping the tough central stem away from the soft leaves.
The very talented Clotilde at Chocolate and Zucchini has a wonderful post dedicated to 50 things you can do with sorrel. But, I chose to disregard all her suggestions. Instead, given sorrel’s bitter taste coupled with LM’s seriously sweet tooth (the two don’t really mix!), I elected to ease into our sorrel introduction and adapted one of Yotam’s pesto recipes.
We had ours mixed with beans and roasted hazelnuts and served with perfectly barbecued (by LM!) Moobi Valley scotch filet and duck fat roasties. It tasted fine!
..and, then I had some more on my eggs the following morning!
[recipe title=”Sorrel Pesto” time=”20 minutes” difficulty=”easy”]
1 x bunch of sorrel (about 75g after washing and de-stalking)
a handful of parsley (about 20g of leaves after washing and de-stalking)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
1/2 a teaspoon of maple syrup
3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of salt
1/2 a lime, juiced (optional)
1) Bung all the ingredients in your a food processor and blitz until you reach your desired consistency. Taste and season to your preference.
E N J O Y ! [/recipe]