Green goddess: fresh-picked sorrel. Photo
courtesy Good Eggs | SF.
If you hadn’t read the headline or the caption, would you have been able to identify the leafy green in the photo?
Growing wild in grassland habitats, sorrel has long been cultivated as a garden herb and leafy green vegetable. It’s a member of the Polygonaceae family of flowering plants, which include foods such as buckwheat and rhubarb.
In older times, sorrel was also used as medicine. The leaves contain oxalic acid, which provides both the tart flavor and medicinal properties (respiratory tract and bacterial infections, diuretic).
Sorrel used to be consumed widely as both herb and vegetable, but has fallen out of style. Some recipes still use it in a sauce for lamb, sweetbreads or veal. Occasionally a chef will offer sorrel soup.
But it’s time to revisit sorrel at home. Both the stems and leaves can be eaten, raw or cooked.
Depending on your farmer’s market or produce store, you can find:
Common sorrel (Rumex acetosa), with large, arrow-shaped leaves (see photo above).
French sorrel (Rumex scutatus), milder than common sorrel, with smaller and more rounded leaves.
Red-veined sorrel (Rumex sanguineus), the handsomest and the mildest of the three. It has subtle notes of lemon, and should be saved for salads and plate garnishes, to show off its beauty.
Or, you can plant sorrel in your garden: It’s a perennial that will bloom for years. It grows well in containers, too.
WAYS TO USE SORREL
Since it can be used as a herb or a vegetable, you’ve got a lot of flexibility when cooking with sorrel.
In addition to classic uses, think of it especially with dairy, duck, goose and pork, where its acidity counters the fattiness. For the same reason, it goes well with stronger fish. Try sorrel in a side, a sauce or a plate garnish.
Sorrel recipes from Mariquita Farms, a grower of sorrel, include:
Apple Sorbet With Sorrel
Beet Salad with Sorrel with Pistachio Dressing
Fish Fillets With Chard, Spinach & Sorrel
Leek and Sorrel Pancakes with Smoked Salmon
Penne with Mushrooms and Fresh Sorrel
Sorrel and Goat Cheese Quiche
Split Pea Soup with Sorrel
Dairy (cream, sour cream, yogurt)
Egg Dishes (omelets, quiche)
Fish (especially with oily or smoked varieties like bluefish,
Also use sorrel in your own recipes for:
mackerel or smoked salmon)
Green Vegetable (alone or with other cooked greens like
chard, kale and spinach)
A field of sorrel. Photo courtesy Mariquita Farms.
Legumes (like lentils)
Marinades and Salad Dressings
Puréed As A Sauce With Duck, Goose Or Pork
Puréed Into Mashed Potatoes (or other potato dishes)
Sautéed In Butter
Sandwiches (instead of lettuce)
If we’ve overlooked your favorite use for sorrel, please let us know!