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Saturday, June 02, 2012


Excellent Ingredient of the Week
Sorrel sort of tastes like lemony, tart spinach. It grows really well here in pots and mine comes back every season. It is the first to show up in spring and the last to leave in late fall. I love to nibble on it in the garden while I tend my plants and water. In Europe, it's very common but I have a hard time finding it in local markets, which is why I started growing it.

The tart, lemony flavor of sorrel is due to the presence of oxalic acid. People with arthritis or kidney stones should eat only small quantities, as oxalic acid can aggravate these conditions. The herb tastes best in early spring, and becomes increasingly bitter as the season progresses. Use the tender, young leaves in salads, and the larger leaves for soups, stews and sauces. Sorrel also complements goat cheese, eggs and poultry.

Sorrel has long been known to be both edible and medicinal. Sorrel is rich in vitamin C, sorrel was valued for centuries for its ability to prevent scurvy, a serious, even life-threatening problem when fresh fruits and vegetables were not available.

This is what I do with sorrel: Mix it into my garden salad along with mesculun mix, beet greens, tatsoi and arugula. Or you can make aioli with it — puree in Sorrel and serve it with fish. It's great with vichysoise, chiffonade it and add it to omelets. If none of those ideas appeal to you, here are two more:

Beet Salad with Sorrel with Pistachio Dressing

2 bunches beets
1/4 c pistachios + extra for garnish, roasted & unsalted
3-4 T olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 bunch sorrel
2 cups croutons

Roast your beets to your liking (I roast mine at 375, covered, in a baking dish with 1/4 c water). Peel and slice into wedges.

Blend the pistachios in a blender with 3/4 c water and blend until very smooth. Strain out water and season with salt and pepper. Whisk this with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Check for seasoning and toss a few of the tablespoons with the beets.

Stem the sorrel and julienne the leaves. Put the julienned leaves on the bottom of a plate, top with the beets, then the croutons, then drizzle with some remaining dressing. Finish with some extra pistachios and some more pepper.

Sorrel Pesto

This is great as an interesting pasta sauce or a thick sauce for fish.

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.