So often we grow herbs and other vegetables that we have every intention of cooking with and eating, and then fall short on inspiration. As we get so many questions about using herbs we have started a little collection of recipes that we make at home. So what can you use sorrel with?
You can use sorrel in a number of ways and traditionally it is paired with fish and egg dishes, but we want to push the recipes a bit further.
Sorrel – Taste & Appearance
Sorrel has two main types, common and red veined. We are growing the green leafed common variety at the moment and the leaves have the appearance of arrow heads. Sizes vary and we have some leaves around 12 inches in length, but on average sorrel leaves are around 8 inches.
Sorrel tastes like a peppery citrus and when eaten raw will make you flinch at the sharpness. When cooked it offers a lighter note of citrus and goes well in dishes that use other leafy vegetables. It really can knock you off your socks when used raw and on it’s own. The older and therefore larger the leaves the stronger the flavor.
The flavor comes from the oxalic acid which is an active ingredient in sorrel.
Health Benefits Of Sorrel
Sorrel is an absolute powerhouse for those who are interested in a healthy well balanced diet. Sorrel contains very high levels of Vitamin C and numerous B vitamins. You will find calcium, potassium and magnesium in plentiful supply with fresh sorrel as well as trace amounts of phosphorous. Really a lot of antioxidants are found in sorrel in small amounts as well.
However we should not overlook the potential issues with consuming high levels of oxalic acid, the very same acid that is present in rhubarb. Due to the astringent flavor it is very difficult to consume enough sorrel to warrant any real concerns, but just do not try to add it to every meal every day! It is unlikely that you will be consuming it in anywhere near the quantities you would need to for a health concern.
Many of the recipes we have chosen are family favorites with a twist. The inclusion of sorrel will need to be alongside other herbs or vegetables as the taste can be over powering. The longer you cook your leaves the lighter the flavor. Trialing a younger audience on raw leaves can be a real recipe for failure as well!
TOP TIP- When it comes to sorrel leaves, the longer they are the more mature they are. The more mature they are the stronger the flavor. So when using raw leaves keep this in mind. As the leaves mature the stalks also become woody, so cut them off from larger leaves.
1.Bubble & Squeak With A Sorrel Twist
Traditionists will get very irate with our families twist on the two ingredient classic. Very much popularized during the Second World War when rationing took a grip of the Nation. Bubble and squeak used to consist of two ingredients; mashed potato and cabbage. With our recipe we have kept the potato and the cabbage but we also use sorrel to lend it that tasty little lemon kick. Follow the full recipe here and see what variations you might like to include.
This is a high calorie and high cholesterol dish, so use with fresh fish, chicken or steamed vegetables. This recipe is ample for 4 people. Please just be aware that you are not making this recipe in advance it is horrible when reheated and the cream will separate as the oxalic acid in the sorrel interacts with it. So make it fresh and eat it straightaway.
Sorrel Sauce Ingredients
- 2/3 cup double cream
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 pound sorrel leaves – about one cup of crammed leaves with the stalks removed.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable stock ( for an adult only sauce you can use ouzo, or any other sharp but clear spirit)
- Gently warm the cream in a pan and bring to a simmer, not boiling though.
- Roll the sorrel into fat cigars and slice. This is called the chiffonade method and is a great way to cut herbs that have larger leaves.
- In a separate pan heat the butter and add your sliced sorrel. You do not want to fry the sorrel but it will wilt down pretty quickly to a dull green color.
- Once the sorrel has cooked down add the warmed up cream and bring the sauce to a simmer.
- This is your sauce very thick. To adjust the thickness add a few spoonful’s of your stock. Alternatively add a few spoons of ouzo or any other clear alcohol that has a sharpness to it.
3.Sorrel Soup (Green Borscht) With Crème Fraiche
This recipe is a good example of sorrel going well with other herbs and leafy vegetables. The color you get is from the vibrant spinach and not the wilted sorrel as it would otherwise be a dull Army green, like camouflage.
- 30g melted butter
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 large white potato, diced
- 700ml of vegetables stock of making the vegetarian recipe or chicken stock otherwise.
- 1 bay leaf, dill fronds, 2 sprigs thyme, 2 sprigs of rosemary – tied together as a bouquet garni
- 50g each of spinach and 50g sorrel with the stalks removed.
- 1 handful of fresh green herbs like parsley, coriander /cilantro, basil. Really go crazy and use any herbs that suit what your garden is producing.
Sorrel Soup Method
- Gently fry off your onions and garlic in the butter. You want to avoid the butter burning but perhaps this will take around 5 minutes to get the onions translucent and soft.
- Add in your stock with the bouquet garni and diced potato and bring to a simmer for around 15 minutes.
- Check that you potato is almost cooked and then remove your bouquet garni as it will get very messy if you leave it in with your green leaves.
- Next add your spinach and sorrel. Cut them both into strips by rolling the leaves into a fat cigar and cutting through.
- Allow your borscht to simmer for a further five minutes and then add your roughly chopped fresh herbs, take off from the heat immediately.
- This is where you can add a tablespoon of creme fraiche to serve.
With borscht you will find a hard boiled egg added as you are serving is very welcome. You may also like to add a squeeze of lemon juice or even some grated zest. The fresh herbs play a major part in this and holding some back as a not insubstantial garnish is a great idea too.
4.Sorrel & Walnut Pesto
A zingy, lemony pesto with a very real kick.
- 1/2 cup walnut halves
- pinch salt
- 2 cloves of crushed garlic
- 2 cups sorrel leaves – stalks removed and washed and fully dried
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- zest of one lemon or lime
- 1 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
How To Make Sorrel Pesto
- Blast your walnuts and salt in the food processor. You can substitute other nuts in here and the classic pine nuts for your usual basil pesto it also fine.
- Add your garlic and stir through evenly.
- Now shred your sorrel roughly and add slowly to your nut and garlic mix. Add about half of your sorrel.
- Then add half of your oil and mix again, then the remaining sorrel and oil.
- Add your lemon zest and parmesan for one final 10-20 second blast on the food processor.
- Serve immediately with gnocchi or fresh pasta.
- Your sorrel and walnut pesto will last for around 1 week in an airtight container in the fridge. I have experimented with freezing it in ice cubes trays and I have to say it will not retain it’s flavor very well for more than a few weeks.
If you do not have a food processor then a mortar and pestle will work. Make sure to help yourself as much as possible by shredding your sorrel first though. As a serving suggestion add fresh basil and more grated parmesan. We also love to slow cook moon blushed tomatoes, check out our article on using up leftover basil for more!
5.Slow Cooked Beef & Sorrel Stew
Cooked low and slow this is a classic slow cooked beef stew. With a twist. The twist being that around 30 minutes before serving you add a cup for of fresh sorrel, roughly shredded. You can make this as a vegetarian dish by the addition of butternut squash and sweet potato. Both the vegetarian and the beef version work very well with the citrus zing of sorrel to lift the rich flavors. For the full article check out our recipe, available here.
It really is a winter warmer and will be great on those days when you have a long day in work planned. Just add the sorrel leaves when you get home and get yourself settled, then ladle into a big bowl with some chunks of cheese added and a slice of buttered bread.
6.Potato Salad With Sorrel & Chives
This is an ideal leftover meal for new potatoes or make it especially for a picnic with the family. The basic recipe is as follows but you can mix it up a little with adding a wider variety of fresh herbs to the mix!
- 800g new potatoes
- 1 cup of fresh sorrel, stalks removed
- 1/4 cup of fresh chives
- 3 heaped tablespoons Mayonnaise
- Chop your new potatoes into halves and pop into a saucepan of boiling water.
- Cook until soft and then drain.
- Add your chopped sorrel and chives into a large bowl with the mayonnaise and mix together well.
- Once your new potatoes have cooled completely add them to your mix. If you find the sorrel too tangy you can replace half a cup with fresh parsley, basil, cilantro or any other seasonal tender leaf herbs.
This is a potato salad that goes well with a quiche or any other egg type of dish. It is hard to get sorrel wrong but it can be overpowering so go for the younger leaves and do taste as you go and reduce the overall quantity or add extra mayonnaise to dull the intensity of flavor.
7.Sorrel & Mixed Leaf Feta Salad
This is very much a recipe that we mix up as and when leaves become available. There is no one right way to do this but sorrel is tangy and full of flavor. So go for arugula leaves, lambs lettuce and even mix it in with some micro herbs for extra kick.
- 1 cup sorrel leaves, finely sliced
- 1 cup lambs lettuce
- 1 arugula leaves
- 1/2 cucumber diced
- 100g feta cheese, drained and diced
Use a large mixing bowl and combine all the ingredients. Serve with crusty bread and olives. We also add cherry tomatoes and cooked green beans depending on the time of year and what we have growing. It is very much a basis of a salad that you can add to. You will find that the sorrel is a talking point as it is so tangy and tart. So slice it thinly to allow it to highlight your salad and not dominate it.
Get really creative and add dill fronds to the basic recipe as well as fresh parsley, chives, and even cress that the kids have grown!
8. Chicken, Sorrel and Leek Risotto
The combination of chicken and leek has been proven time and again to be a real family pleaser, now try to use sorrel to give it that citrus zing. As an added bonus it will turn your risotto to a lovely delicate green color and give you some much needed nutritional content. A sneaky way to get to your five a day. Have a look at our full recipe here.
You can create a vegetarian version just as easily and I have included a meat free version here as well.
9. Tarragon & Sorrel Ranch Style Eggs
This is a twist on the classic ranch style eggs and makes a great healthier version. Added sorrel zing gives it a lemony fresh note. The tarragon is like a subtle note of anise on top of the chili main flavor. For our full recipe have a look here.
Where To Buy Sorrel UK
Generally speaking your local supermarket wont stock sorrel with your other fresh herbs. A local farmer’s market may well do and the start of Spring will really bring a bumper crop. So look for sorrel from March onwards. If not, it is possible to buy seeds and the fabulous Mr Fothergill’s sell red veined sorrel seeds here. Which you can plant following our free guide below.
Once sown you will have a continual crop and our little patch has self-seeded year on year. So you will have a hardy perennial all year round, but really vigorous in Spring and Summer.
Don’t try to freeze sorrel as it inevitably goes slimy. Just grow your own and have a year round supply! Perfect even grown on a balcony in a pot.
- Is Sorrel Easy to Grow? The answer is very much, yes! So have a look as it is by far the easiest way to ensure a regular supply of this versatile and nutrient packed herb.
- What To Use Instead Of Sorrel as it is not always practical to grow your own and even our hardy perennial is a little bitter in Winter months.
- 37 Ideas For Leftover Basil Fresh Or Dried for all those who love a good collection of tasty and tempting herb recipes.
- 23 Uses For Fresh & Dried Mint if you have an excess of mint! Which I guess we all have during Spring and Summer.
- Foraging Cookbook: 75 Recipes to Make the Most of Your Foraged Finds by Karen Stephenson. Very much a home cooking book for those who love fressh ingredients. Karen is inspiring and the kids will even flick through and pick a recipe from time to time.
I would say get planting some sorrel! Or head on down to your nearest farmer’s market and get your hands on a few bunches as soon as possible! Let us know how you get on with our recipes as I am sure you’re photographic skills will be better than mine I would love to see your families take!