Every time I walk around the Farmers Market I feel like I am on a treasure hunt. There is an element of familiarity with each vender, but also curiosity as the seasons transition from the sparse offerings of early spring to the abundant fall harvest. At every visit, I anticipate the changing produce and new discoveries. Fortunately, this past week was no exception for I discovered sorrel.
In my area, sorrel is only available at Farmers Markets. It is a green leafy vegetable with a bright lemony flavor. It is a hardy plant but for some reason does not have wide appeal. However, every vegetable centered cookbook I own has a few sorrel recipes. Therefore, it must have some appeal. If Deborah Madison and Alice Walters took the time to highlight this vegetable, it is worth bringing home to see for myself.
For my first discovery I learned sorrel is not like spinach. Usually, spinach is recommended as a common substitute for sorrel. Yet, they are very different in taste. Unless you add the juice of a full lemon with spinach in your recipe, you will not get the acidic punch that sorrel has. Sorrel has a grassy-lemony flavor and spinach is mild.
Like most leafy green vegetables, cooking causes sorrel to shrink and change color. Ultimately, a cup of sorrel will cook down to about a tablespoon or smaller. As a result, sorrel is often used to make a sauce or soup, instead of a side dish. This leafy vegetable has a high acid content, therefore cooking changes the color to a drab olive-green. Though, it may not have the red-carpet appearance, sorrel makes up for its drab color with punchy, citrus and herbaceous flavor.
Featured recipes with Sorrel
I decided to try sorrel in different cooking applications and pairings. In Deborah Madison’s cookbooks, Vegetable Literacy and Vegetarian Cooking for Everybody, she recommends pairing sorrel with potatoes, eggs, fish (especially oily fish like salmon) and fat. First, I made Sorrel Sauce with Yogurt from Vegetable Literacy, (which she credits Yotam Ottolenghi’s book, Plenty). It is a delicious and easy recipe, and takes less than 10 minutes to make. There is nothing like a quick fix. For dinner I paired the sauce with black sea bass, and potato sorrel gratin from Alice Walters, Chez Panisee Vegetables, and quickly blanched green beans.
The sorrel sauce with yogurt is a simple uncooked sauce and easily made in a food processor. The smell of the sorrel purée was so intense, it felt like I did a nose dive into a freshly mowed lawn. Additionally, the sauce had a zesty and herby taste, along with a creamy tang from the yogurt. It paired nicely with a simply prepared fish.
All of the new recipes and discoveries inspired me to try sorrel with one of my favorite foods, potato salad. I believed the lemon flavor would jazz up potato salad with a nice fresh zing. Fortunately, I was not disappointed. I made a traditional potato salad with celery and hard-boiled eggs and mixed everything together with creamy sorrel dressing. If you like a bit of lemon flavor with potatoes you will enjoy this salad.
A trip to the Farmers Market resulted in a terrific new food discovery. As a result, one new food developed into three new recipes. It is like learning how to cook all over again wherever you find fresh ideas and inspiration. I love looking for that buried treasure.
Hope everyone has a safe and fun Memorial Day. Thank you to all the men and women who served in the military and gave their lives defending our country. While we remember our fallen soldiers, keep our current service men and women in your hearts for a safe return home.
Potato Salad with Creamy Sorrel Dressing
I enjoy potato salad in a variety of ways. It is delicious with either a warm bacon dressing, a vinaigrette dressing, or a creamy one. Potatoes are great sponges and will absorb whatever you put on them.
If I am making a creamy dressing for potato salad I use a mixture of mayonnaise and sour cream/yogurt dressing as a base. I believe it has a more well rounded creamy taste and cuts some of the mayonnaise flavor that I do not want to be too prominent. Along with the chives, a little mint would be a nice garnish. If you really want to go crazy, add some crispy chopped bacon. It is hard to go wrong with bacon and potatoes.
Sorrel Sauce with Yogurt
2 cups cleaned sorrel leaves
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 clove garlic
1 TB minced chives
Sorrel Sauce with Yogurt
Remove the stems from the sorrel leaves and the center rib if the sorrel is more mature. The stems and center rib can be very stringy on the more mature plants. Rough chop the sorrel leaves and add to a food processor. Peel the garlic clove and remove the green germ. Mash the garlic clove with a small pinch of Kosher salt into a pulp with a mortar and pestle or with the side of a chef's knife. To pulverize the garlic clove using a chef's knife, first mince the garlic then sprinkle a pinch of Kosher salt on the minced garlic. Hold the knife blade at a 45-degree angle and press down on the blade with your hand. Smear the minced garlic with the side of the knife blade moving it back and forth until the garlic has turned into a pulp. Add the garlic pulp and 1/2 cup yogurt to the food processor and blend until smooth. Put the sorrel sauce with yogurt into a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The sorrel sauce with yogurt will keep for a few days in the refrigerator.
Make the Creamy Sorrel Dressing
In a small bowl mix together 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2-3 heaping TB sorrel sauce with yogurt (start with 2 TB of the sauce you can always add more later), the Dijon mustard and a pinch of Kosher salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning to suit your preference. If you wish, add more sorrel sauce with yogurt. Cover the bowl and put in the refrigerator until ready to mix the salad together.
Make the Potato Salad
If you are using organic potatoes you do not need to peel them, but do scrub them clean. Peel, if desired, the potatoes and cut them into evenly sized pieces about 3/4 of an inch. Place the chopped potatoes in a pot and fill with water until the water covers an inch over the top of the potatoes. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Once the water begins to boil turn the heat to medium, Take the cover off. and cook the potatoes until just tender in the middle. Potatoes are cooked when a knife or fork can pierce the potato without any resistance. Be careful not to overcook the potatoes, they will get mushy and not hold their shape.
Estimated cooking time will depend on the size of the potato and your heat. Begin checking the potatoes five minutes after they reached a boil and continue checking every 2 minutes until done. Total time could be anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. My potatoes cooked in 7 minutes from the boiling point.
Once cooked drain the potatoes and put in a large mixing bowl. Immediately sprinkle 1 TB distilled vinegar and a 1/2 teaspoon salt over the warm cooked potatoes, and gently stir to evenly mix. Set aside.
Chop the celery ribs into a medium dice and place into the bowl with the potatoes. Trim off the stems and center rib of the sorrel leaves. Stack them and roll the leaves lengthwise, like you are making a cigar. Finely slice, chiffonade, across the sorrel leaves, into thin slivers. Place into the with potatoes. Chop the hard-boiled eggs and add to the potatoes. Gently mix the potatoes, celery sorrel, and hard boiled eggs together until evenly combined. Add all the sorrel dressing to the potato salad and gently mix to evenly combine. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Put the potato salad into a serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with minced chives over the potato salad just before serving. Potato salad is best eaten the day it is made, but will last for a couple of days in the refrigerator.
If you cannot get sorrel but still want a lemon zip to your potato salad, omit the Sorrel Sauce with Yogurt and add about 2 -3 TB of sour cream or yogurt to the potato salad dressing. Add an extra TB of distilled vinegar to the potatoes along with the zest of one lemon. If you still want a little bit of green to the salad, replace the thinly sliced sorrel leaves with some spinach leaves and prepare in the same manner.
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