There are two ideas in today’s tip:
Sorrel leaves in a green salad.
A yogurt ‘moat.’
We loved the idea of a yogurt moat (photo #1), observed at Botanica restaurant in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles.
In the photo, the chef piled a salad on top of a moat of garlicky sheep’s milk yogurt. The salad, which emphasizes different colors, is served for brunch or lunch with :
Tomatoes, both roasted and fresh (use different colors for each)
Bell pepper rings (red or orange)
Purple basil (substitute green)
Sorrel (substitute arugula*)
Garnish: drizzle of sumac–aleppo-lemon compound butter (substitute flavored olive oil)
The salad is placed in the center of the plate; the moat is spooned around it.
It may be “just salad and yogurt,” but it has panache. The restaurant serves it with garlic toast and poached eggs.
*Arugula’s sharp, pepper taste contrasts with sorrel’s tart, lemony flavor.
WHAT IS SORREL
Sorrel (SAW-rull) is not one of the most often-used herbs in the U.S., but it is a favorite worldwide.
Common sorrel or garden sorrel—simply called sorrel—is a dark green (Rumex acetosa, photo #2) or variegated (photo #2) perennial herb. It’s a member of the Polygonaceae family, which includes buckwheat and rhubarb.
Sorrel grows from early spring to late fall, but gets progressively more bitter as the months progress (a boon to those who like bitter herbs, but if it’s too bitter for you, simply blanch it).
The plant has been cultivated for centuries. When the leaves are consumed raw they have a slight sour taste, due to oxalic acid. The tartness is enjoyed by many cultures.
Added to lettuce or spinach salads, or as a sandwich garnish.
Cooked as a vegetable in stews and soups.
Puréed into plain or cream soups and sauces.
Used instead of spinach in spanakopita, to fill vegetable or meat pies, and mixed with mashed potatoes for consumption with sausages.
In Afghanistan the leaves are battered and deep fried as an appetizer.
In Nigeria, they are steamed and served with peanut cakes, or added to salad with onions and tomatoes.
In France, puréed sorrel sauce served with eggs and fish.
There are country-specific uses as well:
Salad atop a “yogurt moat” at Botanica | LA.
 Common sorrel (photo courtesy Good Eggs).
Variegated sorrel with red veining (photo courtesy Specialty Produce). There are other, less-seen varieties in shades of purple.
The oxalic acid in sorrel helps to cut through fatty or oily dishes.
The next time you see fresh sorrel, pick up a bunch and experiment: Use some in a salad, some in a cooked dish.
Sorrel is a “heart-healthy herb”—high potassium content, which lowers blood pressure and increases blood circulation. It is also loaded with antioxidant vitamins A and C.
Sorrel, the herb, is not related to sorrel, the Caribbean drink. The later is made with hibiscus.