Sunday, July 13, 2008

Red-veined sorrel recipes

Nancy from Chesapeake's Choice gave me some gorgeous red-veined sorrel this week at the farmer's market. Nancy carries some very gourmet greens and I am always very impressed with them. I think a lot of people who go to the market don't know what to do with some of these greens and pass them by, but this is a mistake!

I was curious about what to do with this green. I tried eating a little of it raw and was surprised by its tartness; I shouldn't have been- wood sorrel, the clover with the heart-shaped leaves and little yellow flowers that you see everywhere, also has this same tartness, similar to a lemon. Both plants are edible. The red-veined sorrel is supposed to be good for salads, but the larger leaves I have impart a slightly bitter taste that puts me off of eating it raw (some people love bitter greens- they are good for you and it is a matter of taste). So I went on a little journey through my cookbook collection. After doing a little research, I am excited to share some recipes with you from people who consider this a highly prized green.

Sorrel disintegrates when cooked, which makes it awesome for soups and sauces. It pairs with the flavors of onion, leek, potato, egg, cream, sour cream, lard, peas, chicken, and butter. To make a simple sorrel puree, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone recommends the following:
Using 4 cups or about 5 ounces of sorrel leaves, if the leaves are large of coarse, pull the stems down the entire length of the leaves and discard them [definitely do this- the one stem I didn't pull off never cooked up]. Coarsely chop the leaves. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the leaves with a few tablespoons water and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, pushing them about with a fork to break them up. Add more water, as needed, so that they don't fry. Season with a pinch of salt and store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Makes about 1/4 cup. Use over a period of several weeks.
I love anything that can last a few weeks in the fridge. I have tried to get many things to last a couple of weeks there and have been sorely disappointed. With sorrel's companionship to eggs and fats, it would be delicious on eggs Benedict. I also imagine it would be yummy baked into a pastry, or marbling the top of a cream-based soup. Green sorrel would also be great mixed into split pea soup. The red sorrel would turn your soup a poopy color when mixed with green peas. But I bet it would be gorgeous in red lentil soup.

I just made the puree and it is a pinky red color, and mildly tart. The bitterness has mellowed into a complex taste with the butter and I have to give it an A plus. I am imagining all of the good things you could make with it.

Here is a recipe for Polish Sorrel Soup (Zupa Szczafu) from an excellent cookbook, Greene on Greens. He calls it "one of the best soups I have ever consumed" and this gourmand has eaten a lot. Bonus: it takes about 45 minutes to make. You can make this with some fingerling potatoes from Summer Creek Farm, sour cream from South Mountain Creamery, and bacon from the Rohrer's (they may even have salt pork, I don't know):
1 pound fresh sorrel
1/4 pound salt pork, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped fresh parsley
  1. Trim the sorrel, discarding the stems. Chop the leaves and set aside.
  2. Saute the salt pork in a medium saucepan over medium heat until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. Stir in the onion, cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, chicken broth, water, and sorrel. Heat to boiling; reduce the heat. Cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the soup from the heat and slowly stir in the sour cream. Return it to low heat and cook (do not allow to boil) until warmed through. Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with parsley.
Serves 4 to 6.

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