If you’ve never used sorrel, try adding small amounts to your salads. In any recipe that calls for spinach you can substitute a small amount of sorrel-try 1/4 sorrel, 3/4 spinach as a start. Place a sprig or two on sandwiches with the lettuce or in place of watercress. Shred sorrel into soups with a tomato or fish base. It is one of the herbs that is best added at the last minute instead of cooking for longer periods of time. Sorrel does not dry well, but you can puree the leaves and store in the freezer to use as seasoning. For salads and when using raw choose leaves that are less than 6 inches, but save the larger ones for cooking.When adding sorrel cut back on the amount of lemon and vinegar in the recipe. It’s a good herb for those on salt free diets because it adds seasoning without salt.
n spring and early summer at River Cottage, we often gather the little shield-shaped leaves of wild sorrel to add whole to salads – you’ll find them in almost any permanent pastures where chemical fertilisers and weedkillers are never used – but we also grow lots in the garden. The cultivated leaves are larger and softer, and although the young ones also go in our salads, we mainly cook with the mature leaves. (If you want a continuous supply of zesty leaves for summer salads, the buckler leaf variety, with its rounded leaves, is the best to grow.)Toss these young and little leaves in salads with a variety of lettuces (though not, perhaps, bitter or hot leaves such as chicory or rocket – the flavours fight). Dress simply with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. There’s no need for lemon or vinegar; sorrel is tangy enough. Try adding a few shredded leaves to cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, or shred some into fromage frais or soft goat’s cheese and spread on toast. For a delicious canapé, spread the leaves with the thinnest smear of cream cheese and a sliver of smoked salmon or trout, and roll up.When you’re cooking the larger, mature leaves, strip out and discard the stalks, just as you would with spinach, before cooking. Avoid aluminium or cast-iron pans, though, because the oxalic acid in the leaves reacts with the metal and affects the flavour.Given sorrel’s sprightly, tangy flavour, it’s surprising that with the vaguest suggestion of heat the leaves turn a rather militaristic shade of olive – or, less politely, cowpat green. Just like spinach, it shrinks dramatically when cooked, so always pick more than you think you’re going to need. Sorrel certainly forms the laziest and most accommodating of purées – no mechanical assistance required: simply shred it, throw it into warm butter and in a matter of seconds it will transform itself into the silkiest of sauces.Sorrel’s a natural companion to eggs – a simple sorrel soup, say, tastes and looks wonderful with a poached egg floating in it; or spoon some sorrel sauce (see recipe overleaf) over thick sourdough toast and top with a poached egg for a rather special supper dish. Experiment and use it to perk up your fail-safe eggy dishes – toss a few leaves into an omelette with some cubes of cooked potato, for example, or add a handful to an onion tart.
Sorrel’s other match made in heaven is oily fish – including salmon, sea trout, sea bass and, most joyously and thriftily of all, our dearly beloved mackerel.
Mackerel with sorrel sauce
This delicious dish is really the work of minutes. Serves two.
4 mackerel fillets
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp olive oil
50g unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp double cream
Wash the sorrel well, remove and discard the stalks and chop the leaves coarsely.
Season the mackerel fillets with a little salt and pepper. Put a heavy-bottomed frying pan over a medium heat and add a thin film of olive oil. When the oil is fairly hot, lay the fillets skin side down in the pan. When the flesh is almost completely white, flip over for just a minute to finish cooking – the whole process shouldn’t take more than five minutes. Transfer to a warm plate while you make the sauce.
Put the butter into the same pan in which you cooked the fish and melt over a medium heat. When the butter is frothing, throw in the sorrel, which will quickly wilt and turn a dull greeny-brown. Give it a swift stir, remove the pan from the heat, let it cool for 30 seconds, then beat in the egg yolk, which will thicken the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and enrich the sauce by stirring in the double cream. Serve the mackerel with the warm sorrel sauce and some waxy new potatoes.
Hot new potato and sorrel salad
A dish on its own, with the best new potatoes of early summer, or just a lovely way of dressing spuds, perhaps to serve with fish. Serves four as a starter.
500g Jersey Royals or other new potatoes
2-3 handfuls of sorrel
50g unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Scrub the potatoes and boil them in well-salted water until just tender – Jersey Royals, in particular, lose much of their charm if they’re over-boiled, so be vigilant and taste a small potato after just seven minutes or so; eight to 10 minutes is often long enough cooking time.
While the potatoes are cooking, strip the central veins out of the sorrel leaves. Wash well and shred into ribbons about 1cm wide.
As soon as the potatoes are done, drain them, cut them in half and put them in a bowl with the butter and a drizzle of oil. Add the shredded sorrel and toss well. Leave for a minute so the heat of the potatoes wilts the sorrel, then toss again. Rest for another minute, then season with salt and pepper, and serve at once.
This sauce works great with gnocchi or pasta, or with simply grilled or roasted fish or chicken.
2 tbsp pine nuts
1 small clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1-2 handfuls young sorrel leaves (about 45g in weight)
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, stalks removed
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
30g hard goat’s cheese, grated
In a small frying pan over a medium heat, lightly toast the pine nuts until they’re just beginning to turn golden, then tip out into a food processor. Add the garlic, sorrel, parsley and a pinch of salt to the pine nuts, then pulse a few times until roughly chopped and combined. Slowly pour in the olive oil, pulsing as you go, until the pesto is the consistency you like.
Spoon the pesto mixture into a bowl and stir in the goat’s cheese. The pesto will keep, sealed in a jar with a slick of olive oil over the top, for about a week.
Sorrel and White Cheese Quiche
your favourite pie crust, baked blind
2-3 cups sorrel, coarsely chopped
a few scallions, chopped
3-4 ounces white cheese (neufchatel or feta or farmer’s or anything blue)
1½ cups milk
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread cheese in the bottom of a piecrust. Cover with chopped sorrel and scallions. Beat eggs, salt and milk together. Pour over greens. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until top is golden brown.
Cream of Sorrel Soup
Clean, shred from the midrib and chop:
½ cup sorrel leaves
1½ cups leaf lettuce
Sauté them until wilted in:
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
When they are sufficiently wilted, there will be only about 3 tablespoons of leaves.
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Simmer about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add a small amount of the soup to:
½ cup cream
3 beaten egg yolks
Combine all ingredients and heat until the soup thickens slightly, but do not boil. Makes 5 to 6 cups.
Source: Joy of Cooking
Sorrel Pesto: great as an interesting pasta coating or a thick sauce for fish or chicken.
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh sorrel, ribs removed
1/3 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
In a food processor or blender puree the sorrel, the parsley, the garlic, the parmesan, the pine nuts and the oil, transfer the pesto to a jar with a tight fitting lid and chill it, covered. The pesto keeps, covered and chilled, for 2 weeks. Makes about 1 cup.
To use the pesto: For every 500g of dried pasta cooking in a pot of boiling water, stir together in a heated serving bowl 3/4 cup of the pesto and 2/3 cup of the hot cooking water. When the pasta is al dente, drain it in a colander, add it to the pesto mixture, and toss the mixture until the pasta is coated well.
Greens and Fish
An old authentic French recipe
1/2 pound chard
1/2 pound spinach
few leaves of sorrel
one garlic clove
2 pounds thin fish fillets
Place the greens and one peeled, crushed garlic clove in a pot and cook for ten minutes, then chop. Add the fish, and cook for 10-15 minutes until done-NO longer. Place piece of crusty bread on a plate and serve the fish and the chopped greens beside one another with the liquid.
1 tablespoon cream
1 cup sorrel, cleaned and trimmed
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 tsp salt
Shred sorrel. In a heavy pan, heat half the butter and add sorrel and salt. Cook for about ten minutes, while stirring. Combine the eggs and cream in a bowl, beating gently. Add the sorrel mixture and combine. Add the remaining butter to a skillet and heat until butter is slightly browned. Add the egg mixture and stir briskly with the back of a fork or spoon until the eggs are evenly spread on the bottom of the skillet. Keep moving the unset eggs around with the utensil smoothly until there is no liquid left. Do not overcook. Shake the pan gently over the heat a few times. Fold the omelet over in half and serve.
1/2 pound sorrel
2 tablespoons butter
6 cups water
1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 egg yolk
Clean and shred sorrel, then chop. In a large heavy pan, heat butter. Add sorrel and cook, stirring, for ten minutes until reduced to about 1/2 cup. Add the water, potatoes and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 1/2 hour. Strain and mash or puree the vegetables. Stir the cooking liquid into vegetables and return to pan. Bring to boil. Stir in milk and yolk. Cook until hot, but do not boil. Serve with French Bread.
And another sorrel soup
All you need for this sorrel soup recipe is 3 cups of vegetable broth, 2 tablespoons of uncooked white rice, 1 bunch of sorrel (you’ll need to rinse this through and cut the stems off), and ½ a cup of fat-free natural yogurt.
Put the vegetable broth in a large saucepan and bring it to the boil gradually over a moderate heat. Next stir in the rice and let the broth keep boiling away for 8 minutes; the rice will cook in the broth and absorb the flavours.
When the 8 minutes are up, add in your sorrel and then put everything in a food processor, or use a hand blender, to blend the soup. Finally, put the soup back in the saucepan and return it to moderate heat and stir in the yogurt. Taste the soup and add any salt and pepper as you wish. Your sorrel soup is ready to eat – enjoy!
BUT NOTE – MEDICAL WARNING
Herbalists’ claims for sorrel lack supporting evidence and the herb’s toxic effects have been shown in both animals and people. For these reasons, medical experts warn against using sorrel. ( http://www.womens-health-club.com/herbs/sorrel.htm)
HOW TO GROW SORREL
Over the winter of 2009- 2010 we had floods, followed by snow, ice and freezing temperatures for 2 months on end, yet the sorrel has popped up, as fresh and green as ever in April and May.In the winter of 2010-2011 we had sub zero temperatures for 2 months, which killed many tender plants, but right now, in spring, there are signs that the sorrel os springing back to life. What a trusty herb!
Sorrel produces best in a rich soil, but will grow in any well-drained soil, and can be planted in sun or partial shade. Prepare the bed by digging in generous amounts of aged manure or compost. An occasional dressing of compost is all that is required during the growing season. The plants should be kept moist, so water well during dry summer months.
Plants can be purchased from a garden centre or started from seed. If you know someone with an established sorrel plant, ask for a small cutting. It grows so well in my herb garden that I’m always happy to dig up a piece to give to someone.
Seeds should be sown in early spring by planting them 1/4 – 1/2″ deep, and six inches apart. When the plants are several inches high, thin the seedlings to 8′-12″ apart. The plants will grow into fairly sizable clumps, anywhere from 16″ – 24″ high, and will produce tangy, edible leaves approximately four months after thinning. Remove the rust red flowers when they appear in summer by cutting the flowering stem, or the plant will put its energy into seed, not leaf, production. When the plant gets very leggy towards the end of summer, you can cut it right back , and if there is a spell of September sunshine you’ll get fresh new leaves again
Source of the information (but altered by me): http://twosmallfarms.blogspot.com/2007/03/sorrel-recipes.html and http://www.squidoo.com/sorrel and http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/jun/07/recipe.foodanddrink1 and http://www.weightlosstips.co.uk/best-sorrel-soup-recipe/