Conquering a mountain with (samphire) salad
I can’t remember when or how it happened; it just did. One meal I didn’t pick up my camera to take a photo before eating. Then before I knew it, a day, a week, a month, three months had passed, with no food photos. And that coincided – or is that culminated? – with no blog posts for a while.
Sometimes assembling a blog post can seem an Andean effort when you are caught up in the flurry of other stuff that is life. Then you remember that wellness is not only about what you put into and onto your body. Sometimes you just need to remember to breathe and know what to let go.
My quest for balance and mindfulness sees me spending less time online and more time with my husband, being mum, reading, writing and singing to my mustard seedlings, as I slowly learn what it is to work smarter. It’s not any less hard but it is incredibly enriching.
On the work front, I am proud to be involved with The Forever Project, with which I co-presented two workshops involving the dynamic Chris Ferreira and illustrious Steve Wood as part of this year’s Kings Park Festival.
In the lead-up to Saturday’s food theatre, I was asked to use samphire in my dishes – and this led to an unexpected journey of discovery. I had to figure out what on earth samphire was, how to find and harvest it, and how to eat it.
Now I have stir-fried this native herb with vegies, blanched it with hot broth, steamed it with broccoli, nibbled on it neat, and enjoyed it raw in a salad. I find its mild saltiness quite delicious, and am very excited to now have my own plant to nurture, with thanks to a certain nursery owner.
*** Important note: if you’re planning to forage for samphire along the Swan River, you will need a permit (and I assume you would now get this from the Department of Parks and Wildlife, as it is subsuming the Swan River Trust…). ***
Rich in folate and vitamin C , samphire may just be the latest superfood . It has a salty, fennel-like flavour and certain varieties appear to be related to fennel . As a pickle, samphire has been used to combat scurvy on long sea voyages .
This is an opportunistic salad, as those who came along on Saturday will know. I used what was seasonal and available while attempting to balance saltiness, sweetness, tartness, texture, colour, smell, and more. I encourage you to change the recipe to match your supplies/taste rather than spend a lot of money on specific ingredients.
Recipe #143: Samphire salad. Serves 4 as a side. The only utensils you need for this recipe are a knife, chopping block, serving bowl and glass jar.
You will need – for the salad:
► 3 x 10-15cm sprigs of raw samphire, finely chopped [remove and compost any woody segments before you chop]
► 1/3 of a small red onion, finely sliced
► a handful of young asparagus spears, sliced into 2-3cm lengths
► 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, each tomato sliced in half
► 1 overflowing handful of salad greens, roughly chopped [I used wild rocket]
► a handful of goji berries
► [optional] fennel flowers, cut from 4-5 umbels [yes, 'umbel' is the formal name for the 'umbrella' to which the flowers are attached]
► a handful of walnuts, roughly chopped
You will need – for the dressing:
► 1 clove of garlic, smashed
► 3 fine slices of fresh ginger
► ~40mL of your favourite vinegar [I used a mix of apple cider and coconut balsamic vinegars]
► ~60mL of good olive oil
Start by making the dressing. Place all ingredients into a jar. Seal the jar tightly and shake vigorously. Set the dressing to one side. Shake and strain just before adding it to the salad.
To make the salad, combine all salad ingredients, except for the walnuts and fennel flowers. Toss the salad with just enough dressing to make the rocket leaves glossy. Sprinkle the walnuts and fennel flowers (if you have them) over the top of the salad. Serve and enjoy.
I did not add salt to my salad because of the natural salt content of the samphire, however you may want to season to taste.
Stay well until next time (and it really is lovely to see you here again!),
 Think Natural (undated) “Medicinal plants: Samphire” on http://www.thinknatural.com/. Available online via http://www.thinknatural.com/articles.php?id=10202; accessed on 26 September 2013.
 Meldrum, J. (2013) “Samphire: The Next Superfood?” on Weekend Notes. Available online via http://www.weekendnotes.com/samphire-the-next-superfood/; accessed on 26 September 2013.
 Plants for a Future (2012) “Crithmum maritimum – L.” on http://www.pfaf.org/. Available online via http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Crithmum+maritimum; accessed on 1 October 2013.
 The University of Western Australian (2012) “Adaptations 4: Surviving Extremes (fact sheet)” on http://spice.wa.edu.au/. Available online via http://spice.wa.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Surviving-extremes.pdf; accessed on 1 October 2013.