There is a green leaf that brings me much culinary pleasure that I find myself seeking it out in every market I visit. It looks like a bonsai spinach leaf, and fully supports the old adage big things come in small packages. Sorrel or French sorrel is what I am referring to and it has an incredibly delicious sour head. It starts showing up in late spring and enlivens my plate throughout the summer. Beware that the Caribbean islands also have a sorrel, but that is the dried flower of the hibiscus – fabulous in its own right.
I tend not to cook the French sorrel as its sour note and green hue fades with exposure to heat – this leaf wants to be used as an herb or lettuce. It will give a huge pucker without the strident feel of a lemon. I recommend you remove the center the rib of the leaf, and use it torn into salads or pureed for a surprisingly assertive sauce.
If the farmer in you feels so inclined to grow it give it a sunny spot, and snip the stem as it bolts. It will come back year after year prompting even more ideas and applications for this unexpected green leaf.
Bocconcini Salad - serves 6 to 8
1 pound Bocconcini - small mozzarella balls
1 lemon - zest only
1/4 cup capers - rinsed, drained and roughly chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley - leaves only, chopped
2 cups arugula - washed, dried and roughly chopped
1 cup sorrel leaves - washed, dried and roughly chopped
1 medium sized red pepper - diced
1/2 cup Kalamata olives - pits removed and roughly chopped
Black pepper to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Toss all ingredients together and let sit 30 minutes before serving.
Sorrel Dressing - yields approx. 2 cups
1 cup packed sorrel leaves – center rib removed
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
3/4-cup olive oil
1/4- cup almond oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in the blender and process until smooth.