May is sorrel season, and Sabasalads loves sorrel. This wonderful herb, also called “sour-grass” due to its sharp flavor, is now available in many farmers markets, and you can spot it by looking out for its fleshy, spinach-like leaves shaped like arrow-heads.
Common sorrel or Garden sorrel (the kind most widely available in the U.S.) has been in use for a long time, and its name appears in English herbals and dictionaries as early as the 16th century (the Oxford English Dictionary points to several citations, including William Turner’s Names of Herbes, originally printed in 1548). Common sorrel is not to be confused with wood sorrel, a shamrock-shaped plant with a similar flavor that is actually a member of the Oxalis family. This species grows in both Europe and the Americas. Sabasalads hasn’t encountered wood sorrel yet, but will be on the lookout!
Historically, Common sorrel it has several medicinal uses, including prevention of scurvy and ringworm. But Sabaasalads loves sorrel because of its taste, which is sour, sour, sour. It isn’t exactly citrusy, but it has a tartness reminiscent of rhubarb and wild strawberries. The bottom line is that sorrel makes an excellent addition to any green salad, especially one of milder greens like baby lettuces or cabbage, and also to soups and broths. It’s best to mince the leaves finely so that the flavor isn’t all concentrated in one place, but gets distributed throughout the dish. Do this by rolling the leaves up like a cigar and then chopping them across with a knife.
Sabaladas was craving grilled meat last week, so we used the sorrel to make a version of cole-slaw that we think is going to be a frequent addition to BBQs in the future. Instead of mayonnaise or yoghurt, we used labneh, a strained yoghurt that is richer and more sour than either. Don’t overdo it with the labneh and lemon, however, lest you mask the flavor of the sorrel. You can buy labneh at most middle eastern grocery stores, or make it at home by hanging plain yoghurt over the sink in cheesecloth over night.
If you’re looking for more suggestions of things to do with sorrel, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has lots of interesting ideas in this article.
COLE-SLAW with SORREL, RED CABBAGE and SWEET ONIONS
1/2 head of red cabbage, finely chopped
20 sorrel leaves, minced
1/2 a small, sweet onion (e.g. Spanish or Vidalia onions)
1/2 a cucumber, skin removed and julienned
1 large broccoli stalk, floretts removed and julienned
Several stems of curly parsley, minced
4 large mint leaves, minced
2 tablespoons of labneh
Juice of 1/4 lemon
The method couldn’t be simpler. After chopping all of the vegetables, combine them in a large bowl and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix the olive oil, labneh and lemon juice together in a smaller bowl. The labneh might get clumpy, but that’s OK. Next, toss the vegetables in the labneh-oil-lemon dressing until the dressing is evenly distributed. You can serve this immediately, or let it sit for a couple of hours in the fridge. Don’t let it sit too long, however, or the vegetables will get soggy.
Serve this with grilled keftah kebabs, soujouk-style sausages, or felafel, either as a side or a garnish on sandwiches in a flat pocket bread like pita.