What's in Season at the Farmers' Markets: Sorrel
Felicia Friesema Sorrel at ABC Rhubarb Farms' stand
As a distinctive springtime green, sorrel hasn't really benefited from its uniqueness. Its attractiveness seems to come and go depending on moody and immeasurable variables that would make the stock market cringe. But we think this sour and leafy cousin of rhubarb is an easy buy, especially now that it's in its peak season.
Fresh, it has the toothy texture of young spinach and a bright and lemony sourness that pairs well with other young aromatic greens and herbs. But its real magic manifests when you cook it. The bright green leaves completely surrender to heat, disintegrating into a drab and olive-colored puree before your eyes. It's that melting quality that makes it a beautiful flavor brightener of soups and sauces, naturally balancing out rich and heavy fats with its penetrating acidity. Trim out the center stem like you would with chards (we also recommend a good chiffonade) and then add to butter and shallots over low heat and watch the transformation. From here it makes a sublime addition to soups or a rich, cheesy risotto. Add a little cream and seasoning and you have a perfect sauce for salmon, sole, and eggs.
The sorrel plant is generally more heat resistant than some other leafy greens and will be available off and on throughout the main growing season, though its tang is best in the early springtime harvests. In these early months look for smooth, arrow-shaped leaves that are an even, bright green color with no mottling. Later in the season the leaves will develop a darker spinach green and a more mellow tartness.