Monday, June 14, 2010

sorrel: this year's darling of the garden

Each season that we grow vegetables, something surprises us. Some variety always performs better, tastes better, is hardier or more abundant than we ever anticipated. This season it was sorrel (correction: IS sorrel).

Sorrel is a tangy, leafy green that can be cooked, eaten raw in salads or used as an herb for it's tart, lemony flavor. I put some in the garden this spring, expecting that it would mature along with my spring greens - my lettuces, spinach, arugula and the like. I had never tried to grow it before, and was a bit disappointed that it never really kept pace. Eventually, long after the last of the lettuce was gone and the extreme heat of summer was in full force, the sorrel sprang to vigorous life. We now have a thick carpet of it's pointed, emerald green leaves in our garden bed, and it is handily holding its own against heat, drought and wind. When cabbage loopers ravaged every single leafy plant I had, the sorrel was utterly unaffected. When I cut some in early June for a spring-inspired risotto, it suddenly shot up and filled the gaps, gaining inches overnight. We adore this fresh tasting green so many ways, and now that I know it will be a reliable hot weather performer for us, it has earned a permanent place in our garden. I urge you to give it a try too!

Sorrel Tabouleh

1 cup bulgur wheat
1 cup water
a pinch of salt
several large handfuls of sorrel leaves, washed and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 fresh tomato, diced
2-3 ounces crumbled feta
olive oil
lemon juice
salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

Heat water and salt to a boil. Stir in bulgur, remove from heat and cover. Let stand for thirty minutes. Fluff grains with a fork.

Transfer bulgur to a large bowl. Add sorrel, mint, feta, tomato, salt and pepper. Stir gently to combine. Add just a squeeze or two of lemon juice (not too much, as the sorrel has a tart flavor) and enough olive oil to make it as moist as you like it. Toss well and serve immediately or refrigerate and serve chilled.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


This was a great day. We got up on the last somewhat cool Saturday morning of the season with a mission: to drive to a neighboring town to meet our CSA lady at the farmers market and pick up our veggie share. With us was a cooler full of eggs and cheese to deliver. We were wheeling and dealing.

The farmers market was small, but one of the better ones I've seen. Most of the vendors were selling actual produce and preserves that they had actually produced themselves (a rarity around here, believe it or not). We had a nice chat with Marilyn and met some new people. We traded eggs, cheese and cash for compost tea, sweet potato slips and more cash. The cash from the eggs bought us some delicious apricot preserves, and some vegetables we'd been dying for - a few ripe tomatoes and sweet peppers. We left the market with a beautiful haul of fresh vegetables, herbs and preserves, two jugs of compost tea and sweet potato vines to plant in our own garden. Our total cash outlay was five dollars.

On the way home, we stopped at a u-pick orchard that Marilyn had told me about a few weeks before. Ken and Lara Halverson grow beautiful fruit as well as a nice selection of vegetables to pick yourself. If you're pressed for time, you can stop by and pick up items they've already harvested, but I recommend going for the full experience here. Trust me, those berries will taste sweeter if your hands are sticky from collecting them. We met Ken and Lara, and with nine dozen eggs still in our cooler, made an almost even swap - all of our eggs for about four pounds each of blackberries and peaches. Ken was gracious enough to give us some pointers about where to get blackberry canes of our own to start.

We ate a ridiculous amount of fresh fruit over the first three or four days, a little bit went into the freezer for later, and some of the berries went into a deep-dish blackberry pie (divine!). It was the most delicious fruit I think we've ever eaten. It was delicious in its own right, of course, but I think it was also satisfying because of the way it was obtained. We supported a small, local grower, picked the fruit ourselves, and made a connection with new people. If you live in Dallas-Fort Worth, pay them a visit, and be sure to eat a few berries in the car on your way home.