Crooked Recipes – Meagan Schools Us Through Our Fear of Sorrel

Hello! If you missed it, we kicked off the recipe page of this lovely little blog last week with some delicious Komatsuna and Salmon from our darling friend and CSA member Sarah Merusi.

This week, animal-whisperer, beloved market regular and vegan chef extraordinaire Meagan Maxwell teaches you to love sorrel, one of the less common greens we grow over here on Crooked Row. Enjoy! She is amazing, and so are you.

Hello, everyone! Meg here, and I’m so glad to be writing for Liz! This is such an amazing opportunity to share recipes with you, and also for me to push myself to try new recipes, ways of cooking, and ingredients!

This weekend marked the first farmers markets of the season in Philly. What a great weekend it was, too! The sun was shining, everyone was out celebrating spring!

Now, if you were out, you probably picked up some fresh, spring herbs. Some of these herbs you may recognize, some you may not. One that many people seem to be stuck on is sorrel. I remember last year sitting with Liz and people asking two questions over and over:

  1. What does it taste like?
  2. What do you do with it? or, How do you cook with it?

I can answer both of these questions for you right now. But first, let’s talk about sorrel for a bit. Sorrel is a flat-leafed, fragrant herb that is also called dock. Its leaves are a beautiful color of pure green, sometimes with red veins, and a bit arrow-shaped. It’s not to be confused with Caribbean or West African sorrel, which is actually hibiscus buds that have been dried that you can use to make a delicious, cooling drink from!

sorrel pesto

So, what does it taste like?

Green sorrel, which is what Liz serves up at market, is delicious. It’s a bit citrusy, and it’s used all over the world in traditional foods like spanakopita and potato dishes. It has a very distinct flavor, and it is almost surprising at first!

What do you do with it?

Many traditional methods of consuming sorrel are in a preserved form (such as in olive oil), served on top of something. It’s also cooked into stews, steamed, or mixed in with salad greens.

Today, we will be talking about a new take on an old favorite: Pesto.

Pesto is really just a reference to anything muddled, traditionally pounded in a mortar and pestle. While we may be most familiar with pesto made with basil, pine nuts and parmesan, variations can be quite extensive! Our version today is going to be vegan, and will use easily found ingredients, and quite affordable (have you seen the price of pine nuts!?).

So, how do you cook it? Here’s one way:

Sorrel Pesto

Ingredients:

1 bunch sorrel (about a cup), chopped if you’re using a mortar and pestle
⅓ or less (depending on taste) cup pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas, plain dried unsalted
2-3 cloves garlic, skins on
⅓ or so cup olive oil
salt to taste

You’ll also need a non-teflon skillet that you can put on high heat and a mortar and pestle or a food processor

  1. Wash and dry the sorrel before using, chop if you’re using a pestle to make things go faster. Place your  skillet over a medium-high or high heat and wait for it to get nice and hot
  2. Place the pepitas in the skillet with no oil keep them in there, constantly stirring them around, until they’re toasted a little bit. You don’t want them to be toasted until their black, just until they’re browned. A little black is fine, just don’t char them!
  3. Put the sorrel and pepitas in whatever you’re using to make the pesto, then put the garlic in the pan, still with no oil. Place the cloves in and every minute or two, turn them to a new side. You’ll want to keep doing this until the skins all turn mostly black. Don’t worry if the garlic isn’t a paste consistency! This is just to mellow out the pungent flavor and bring out the great flavors in the garlic! When it’s all mostly black, remove from heat and wait for the clove to cool a bit before removing skins and tossing them in with the sorrel. I like this way of roasting garlic because it lets me control how much I make and I don’t have to slather a whole clove in oil or turn my oven on!
  4. Now, the fun part, muddle the ingredients with some olive oil and salt. You’ll want to grind them all nice and well, adding the oil a little bit at a time. If it’s less, fine, more that’s fine too! Just get it to a consistency you like. In the food processor, this will take a few pulses, and it will be a few minutes with the pestle. Don’t forget to season with salt to your liking!

That’s it! It seems like a lot, but it’s not and it’s sure to impress not only your friends and family, but you’ll be turning to it all season long! If you have any leftovers, you can put them in a glass jar with a bit of olive oil on top for about a week, or freeze it. It goes great on pasta, french bread, or anything else you can think of!

Let me know how you like it. You can feel free to customize this to your liking, but this is a ratio that works well for me.

Thanks!
Meg

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