More harbingers of spring showed up at markets around the region this past weekend. One such pioneer is sorrel, which Jake’s Farm at Asheville City Market has had for the past two weeks.
A cousin of another early spring rockstar, rhubarb, sorrel shares the same mouth-puckering tang. Though it grows year-round, it becomes more bitter as the seasons go forward, making spring its moment to shine. Its bright, lemony flavor is a refreshing shift from winter’s root vegetables and darker greens.
If you’re hesitant about sorrel’s sourness, try it first in a pesto or salsa verde, an ideal pairing for rainbow trout or lamb chops from East Fork Farm or grilled salmon from Salmon to You. For pesto, combine sorrel in a food processor with garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan, and olive oil. Experiment with subbing in almonds or walnuts, or adding other herbs, like mint and parsley, which could further soften sorrel’s bold flavor, if desired.
Sorrel soup is a classic French dish. Cook several chopped spring onions in butter (look for spring onions at Lee’s One Fortune Farm), then add sorrel leaves and either chicken or vegetable broth and simmer for about 10 minutes. You can blend it, thicken it with cream, or add other vegetables or meat to the broth, if you like. (Potatoes from Ten Mile Farm and bacon from Dry Ridge Farm come to mind.)
But if you crave sorrel’s lemony zip, keep it simple and eat it as a salad. If you have large leaves, you can slice them into thin ribbons, or keep smaller leaves whole. Include a few sliced radishes from Olivette Farm and some soft goat cheese from Spinning Spider Creamery. Double down with a lemon vinaigrette, or make a yogurt-chive dressing. You’ll think spring has already arrived.
Area farmers tailgate markets take place throughout the region, even in the winter. As always, you can find information about farms, tailgate markets, and farm stands, including locations and hours, by visiting ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.
Prepared by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.