Wild Spring Salsa Verde
Have you ever noticed the 'smell of spring'? It usually happens on a dewy morning when the sun is warming up the ground and plants are growing so fast you can almost see them shoot upwards. This recipe captures some of the plants that contribute to this wonderful sweet smell; a wild take on a classic salsa verde - easy to gather, easy to make and very very easy to eat. And would you believe it, it's delicious with bangers, on bread and probably goes very well with a glass of beer. It also happens to be senstational with spring lamb, pork, fish or cheese.
These are all rough quanities, it's up to you how much you pick or add. When you are collecting your ingredients have a bite so you get to know the leaves distinct flavours - you'll have a pleasant suprise! Incase you can't find them all, I've included a 'non wild' alternative to the wild ingredients. Adapt this recipe for your own taste buds or what you can gather - the core 'herby' ingredients are garlic and ground elder (or parsley) play around with the other ingredients - this kind of recipe is all about having a bit of a play! Think grown up mud pies that happen to taste delicious...go on, get playing
a large handful of wild garlic (or 2 bulbs of garlic)
a large handful of ground elder (or flat leaved / curly leaved parsley)
a few dandelion leaves before the plant has flowered
a handful of ox eyed daisy leaves or daisy leaves from your lawn
a dozen or so pennywort leaves (or a small cucumber with the seeds removed)
a dozen or so sorrel leaves (or a squeeze of lemon juice)
a small handful of mint leaves
a handful of young hawthorn or lime leaves
2 tablespoons of pickled nasturtium seeds, samphire or elderflower buds (or capers)
Virgin Rape seed oil
Soak all of the leaves in fresh water with a cup of vinegar added - (this cleans them).
Dry the leaves in a salad spinner (or, if you are like me give and without one, give them a good shake!)
Roll handfuls of leaves into cigars and chopped them as finely as your arms will allow. You can put them in the food processor and blitz them, but the best texture comes from hand chopping (sorry!)
Add the leaves to a bowl, finely chop the nasturium seeds and add these.
Pour in enough vinegar to make the leaves 'wet' but not drowned - about 250ml (if you have leaves floating in a pool of vinegar, you'd probably added too much)
Add a few glugs of oil - stir the mixture together
Start adding sugar, tasting along the way - you want to get to a sweet and sour balance that you like; and finlally season the mixture with salt if you feel it needs it.
Put the salsa verde into a covered jar, pop in the fridge and use within a couple of days
Probably one of the least prescribed recipes you'll ever read but sometimes you have to use your taste buds rather than a book...