I went up to the farm on Sunday for the last distribution coordinator meeting before the CSA season begins. Megan, Jeff, Leonard and I got a lot accomplished and I got reward: sorrel!
The sorrel that Leonard grows at Upper Meadows Farm is the variety with slender green leaves that have a lemon-lime taste, not the sorrel buds that are used in Caribbean and Latin American drinks (which are actually in the Hibiscus family). Their tartness led Saveur magazine to call them “lemons of the north” in a feature story that comes with a few tempting recipes, like a sorrel frittata that would make good use of the farm’s organic eggs.
You don’t even need to get that fancy to enjoy sorrel. When you get some with your CSA share or at one of Upper Meadows’ farm markets, just add it to your salad. I might do that tomorrow, with a little crabmeat thrown in for flair. Or simply steep some leaves in hot water and then strain the liquid, which makes a delicious herbal tea, hot or cold.
Sorrel is big in France, where it gets combined with potatoes and turned into a simple soup. (There’s a vegan version here, a cold version on the Food Network site or this sorrel, pea and leek soup from Epicurious.) Sorrel makes a lovely sauce that pairs well with fish, as it does in this recipe. (In French the word for sorrel is oiseille, which was also a French slang term for money at some point.)
It may be because of the French influence on Peter the Great in 17th-century Russia that sorrel has a special place in Russian cooking as well. RusCusine, a Web site all about Russian cooking, has a recipe for Zelyonye Schi, the Russian take on sorrel-potato soup.
And it is perhaps because Russians so adore sorrel that I will not be able to make any of these recipes. My two children were born in Russia, and though both came to America quite young, they seem to have a strong taste memory. The ride home from the farm was quite quiet because both were chomping on fistfuls of sorrel. We have a small bag left, but most may be commandeered for school lunches tomorrow.