Cooking from the Garden: Sorrel

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
sorrel

Perennial vegetables are some of the easiest plants to incorporate into the garden.

Once planted, new installations of these foods are rarely necessary. Actually, with plants like these, it is more likely you’ll find yourself spending time dividing and sharing transplants with others rather than replacing your original. Among the many perennial veggies available, is the oft-overlooked Sorrel.

Sorrel is a leafy green with deep, tough roots. Its top growth is edible, and is shaped somewhat like spinach. But don’t expect it to taste like spinach! Instead, Sorrel leaves pack a tangy-sour punch, which is derived from its high content of Oxalic acid. For some, consuming large quantities of this acid can become problematic, leading to (among other things) belly-aches and even kidney stones. So, eat Sorrel with caution.

Different varieties of Sorrel are available. French Sorrel, which is lauded as the most flavorful of culinary forms, develops deep green leaves in clumps tight to the ground.Rumex sanguineus, or Bloody Rumex, is perhaps one of the showiest varieties in the garden. Its leaves sport striking blood-red veins. Both can be eaten, but again, with caution.

To grow Sorrel, look for starts at your local nursery just about any time of year. Install the plants into mixed garden borders, dedicated edible beds or mixed containers. Harvest fresh leaves any time of year to use in the kitchen. Avoid cutting all the leaves off at one time and instead harvest just a few from the outside edge of the plant. Should the plant begin to send up flower shoots, cut those back throughout the season to keep it from going to seed. Self-seeding Sorrel is a weed you want to avoid!

Like spinach and chard, this plant’s tasty leaves can be a favorite of nasty leaf miner pests. If you notice thin, browning spots forming on some of the leaves, harvest and dispose of them in an attempt to break the life cycle of this pest. Leaf miners hatch and nibble a couple times each season, so keep an eye for new eruptions throughout the growing year.

 

Roasted potatoes and sorrel recipe

 

Sorrel is fantastic added in moderation to a fresh salad to add a tangy twist. Too, it is a great lemony addition to buttery fish sauces. And, prepared with potatoes in the recipe that follows, there’s not quite so good.

One note: don’t be surprised when Sorrel loses its brilliant green color during cooking. Unfortunately, that look won’t last in a cooked dish, but the flavor infusion may mean you just don’t care.

 

Grilled Sorrel & Potatoes Recipe

Ingredients:

- 6-8 Waxy potatoes, scrubbed clean and sliced thin

- 1 red onion, peeled & sliced thin

- 6-8 French Sorrel leaves, washed torn into small pieces & thick mid-rib removed

- 4 Tablespoons butter

- 1 Tablespoon olive oil

- Salt & pepper to taste

 

Directions:

1) Heat grill.

2) Lay out a large piece of aluminum foil on a sturdy cutting board. Coat foil with olive oil.

3) Starting with a thin layer of onion, begin layering ingredients onto oiled foil. Onion topped with a thin layer of potato sprinkled with onion, sorrel, salt & pepper. Dot each layer with a tablespoon of butter. Repeat until all the ingredients are used.

4) Fold & seal foil. (If you miscalculated your foil needs, you can add another piece on top and fold the bottom and top together.)

5) Slide foil packet off of cutting board and onto your grill rack and reduce heat to medium-high. Cook for about 10-15 minutes. Carefully, open foil wrapper and check progress. Be sure the bottom layer isn’t burning. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking and checking progress every 10 minutes or so.

6) Young potatoes, very hot grills and super thin slicing may mean your potatoes are done rapidly. Usually, this recipe is ready for the table within about 20-30 minutes – depending on how crispy you want that bottom layer to be.