I still remember the first olive tapanade I ever had. Rich olive puree, decadently lathered onto toast. Years later I created my own seaweed tapanade for my book: Seaweed Foraging in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in which I matched the seaweed Egg wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum) into a delicious blend of black olives, garlic and oil.
Since then I've discovered I can use smaller amounts of seaweeds and combine the ones I use. No longer do you need to get hold of one specific seaweed. You can be using a variety of seaweeds such as the three I use and mention below.
This is so easy and quick to make and you can tweak the recipe to suit, or just combine small amount of the seaweeds you have dried and ground. Give it a go, and let me know how you get on!
Green Olive and Seaweed Tapanade Recipe
An easy tapanade recipe with a few seaweed twists, adding depth of flavour, that umami hit and a nutrition boost.
- 125 g green olives (drained)
- 1 tbsp capers
- 1 garlic clove
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp ground bladder wrack (Fucus vesiculosus)
- 1 tsp ground gutweed (Ulva intestinalis)
- 1 tsp wireweed (Sargassum muticum)
Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and whizz until pulped. Put aside for at least a couple of hours for the flavours to infuse. Serve with fresh bread, on pizzas, mix into rice or spread on toast. Keeps well.
Spring is full of wild ingredients that are perfect for adding into, oh so many different recipes. Farinata - a savoury bake made out of chickpea flour - is a great carrier for these spring wilds. Like an omelette, though egg-less, baked in the oven and extremely tasty, it happens to be vegan and gluten-free too and is easy to add shoots, leaves and flowers, and even seaweed to. Here's my spring version, feel free to add different wilds. I've made a version with hogweed shoots and rosemary too, which was equally delicious.
Wild Spring Farinata Recipe
Makes 7-8 farinatas
- 300 g chickpea flour
- 1 litre water
- 1 heaped tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp ground seaweed (I used bladderwrack/popweed, Fucus vesiculosus)
- Light olive oil or vegetable oil
- Large handful three-cornered leek/wild garlic, chopped
- Small handful common sorrel leaves and stems, chopped
In a large bowl mix the chickpea flour, water, salt and seaweed. Whisk well to combine. Leave to sit for at least an hour, ideally overnight, it will also keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Using a heavy-bottom, oven proof pan, generously add oil and heat over a medium to high heat, till almost smoking.
Spoon in a couple of ladles full of the mixture, coating the pan with a thin layer, about 0.5-1 cm thick. Sprinkle over some three-cornered leek, allow to cook for 5 mintues, sprinkle on the sorrel and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and slice off with a fish slice or similar. Re-oil the pan and repeat with another couple of ladles full and follow until you have enough to eat! Best eaten fresh. Like I mentioned, the mixture keeps well in the fridge well for a few days in the fridge, so you don't have to finish it all in one go.
Works well as a snack (shared it on the beach with a foraging group), I also shared it with a friend, served with a potato salad and well-dressed green salad for supper. I run monthly foraging courses which always include homemade, wild tasters. I'm also available for private forays, looking at the weeds on your land, in your area or just for a holiday delight.
I’ve wanted to try this recipe for ages, for possibly 2 years this recipe has been sitting in a recipe book and in my mind and somewhere in side of me I’ve been eager to make it. Though perhaps not eager enough, until now.
Sea spaghetti cheese straws just sounded like a wonderful idea, an idea that I wouldn’t of thought of, and that excites me. I’ve cooked sea spaghetti (Himanthalia elongata) as, literally, spaghetti, I’ve done it as tempura (both recipes in my Seaweed Foraging Book) and added it into soups, see my Three Seaweed Soup with an Inner Kick recipe. So this, I had to try.
I’d found this sea spaghetti recipe in Prannie Rhatigan’s book; Irish Seaweed Kitchen. I’ve tweaked it a little, of course, isn’t that what cooks do?! I also love the fact it uses Bladder wrack (Fucus vesiculosus) seaweed too. Ground and sprinkled into the pastry (I’d never of thought of that either), so here it is.
A Sea Spaghetti and Bladder Wrack Seaweed Recipe
Sea Spaghetti Cheese Straws (with Bladder Wrack Pastry)
- 10 g dried sea spaghetti
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 75 g butter
- 75 g plain rye flour (or other plain flour)
- 75 g red Leicester or mature cheddar cheese, grated
- ½ tsp dried, ground bladder wrack
- ½ tsp sea salt
- Black pepper, generously ground
Soak the sea spaghetti in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain, pat dry (it will stain cloth, so choose carefully what you use to do this) and toss in the lemon juice. Leave to marinade for at least ½ an hour. It does look horrible and slimy, but trust me! You can omit the marinading process, and the result will be a chewier centre, which is also delicious, just not melt in your mouth.
To make the pastry, combine the rest of the ingredients until thoroughly mixed and it forms a ball of dough. Cover in clingfilm, or a quick plug for a reusable alternative – Organic Cotton Beeswax Wrap – made in Cornwall and perfect for sealing (seal with an elastic band or string) over a container with the pastry in. Put in the fridge for at least an hour. Go out for a walk, see a friend, relax with a book....
Grease a large baking tray (or 2 smaller ones) and roll out the dough to a 15 x 30 cm rectangle. Lay one strand of sea spaghetti along the length and fold the pastry over it, so it just covers it and is encased within it. Cut neatly along the side and cut the whole strip into 7 cm lengths (bite size pieces) and place on the baking tray. Continue until all the pastry is used up. Place in the fridge for 1/2 an hour. Preheat the oven to 190°C and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Keep an eye on them, they can cook quickly! Remove from the oven and leave for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Lovely party snacks, though we just enjoyed them on the beach with a seaweed and wild garlic dip.
Sea Spaghetti, also known as Thongweed (Himanthalia elongata) is one of the seaweeds I cover on my seaweed foraging courses. which I run throughout the year. If you'd like to go seaweeding on a specific beach that I don't cover, I can offer a bespoke experience, tailored just for you.
Yesterday I was crunching on frosty kelp, today the seaweeds are limp and wet again, having defrosted in the sun. It's a lot for seaweeds to cope with, or is it?
In reverence to seaweed, and in celebration of the 'proper' snow we had 2 weeks ago (the first time in 10 years here in west cornwall!), I thought I'd write about seaweeds, snow, frost and freezing temperatures.
Do they like it? Can they survive? And, if they can, what are their secrets?
Frost catches a moment in time, and literally, freezes it, the effect is beautiful, though what is the impact for the weeds?
Firstly, seaweeds exist across the world, in vastly varying temperatures and conditions, from 50 metre long kelps, to microscopic organisms to seaweeds that never emerge above the water's surface, to ones that are exposed to the sun, air and being dried out for more than 6 hours every day.
Each species of seaweed is suited to particular environments. Deep sea seaweeds (these are sub-tidal and never come above the sea's surface) are used to more constant temperatures, while inter-tidal ones (which get exposed twice a day at low tide) are built to sustain almost extreme changes in temperature.
'Most seaweeds would be killed if frozen. However high concentrations of tissues salts and organic solutes in the seaweed's cells lower the freezing points.'
Basically, seaweeds have in-built anti-freeze which protects them from freezing.
In reality, this means that Bladder wrack (top image) can cope with -40° C for months, Egg wrack (above) can go to -20° C and some of the laver species (below) can remain unscathed at temperatures as low as -70°C for 24 hours or so, as well as cope with rather high temperatures in the hot sun.
I feel hot and cold just thinking about it.
My awe of these millions of years old organisms increase with this knowledge. Furthermore, seaweeds also work together to protect each other - they live layered on top of each other, which means just the top layer freezes and the lower seaweeds are kept at a more tolerable temperature.
Similarly, emperor penguins, which survive some of the most harshest conditions on earth huddle together to keep warm. They congregate in groups, sometimes in thousands, and those on the outside of the huddle protect those on the inside, and between them they circulate so no penguin is continuously on the outside. Of course, like seaweeds, penguins body is suited to the environment, yet working together is essential for them to survive extreme temperatures.
Here's to the beauty of the snow, the amazing science of nature, and a thankful heart for having warm wellies to go and forage for those seaweeds in.
Images courtesy of; loriedarlin.tumblr.com, daily mail, Pam Collins and 500px.com
I've been reading in this Saturday's Guardian how Thomasina Miers has been supping lots of soup so far this year, and I feel like saying 'me too', though not for the same reasons many women have validly and valiantly been saying this across continents.
Tommi Mier's restaurant chain Wahaca specialise in Mexican food, and while this isn't a Mexican dish, it is definitely inspired by the spicy punch that Mexican food often has. My me too is about supping soups. Soups that are warming, healthy and bring people together, especially on a cold March morning. It's been cold, too cold and soup is the perfect remedy, this one's got a chilli kick to get your inner fire going, if it isn't already by the outrageous scale of the #metoo movement and the injustices it highlights.
Back to the soup.
This soup using 3 locally foraged seaweeds;
- Kelp (Laminaria digitata)
- Sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima)
- Sea spaghetti or Thongweed (Himanthalia elongata)
These could also be substituted for a mixture of;
- any kelp seaweed (Dabberlocks, Oarweed, Furbelows, Wakame),
- any wrack seaweed (Bladder wrack, Serrated or Toothed, Spiralled)
- pepper dulse could also be used instead of black pepper for one layer of the 'kick'.
Oh, by the way, kelp is called kombu in Japan, and the basis of this soup is similar to a vegan version of dashi stock which combines kombu and shitake mushrooms (and omits bonito flakes which are fish).
There is lots, lots more I could say about seaweed, and soups, though here I'll keep it simple and just offer you this recipe.
(Soaking the seaweed and straining off the ingredients for making the broth)
Three Seaweed Soup
A warming broth which is so simple to make and is great on its own or can be used as a base for a noodle soup or more of a substantial soup, broth or stew.
- 12cm length of dried kelp (or 1/3 more if fresh)
- 12 cm length of dried sugar kelp (or 1/3 more if fresh)
- 10cm single length of sea spaghetti (or 1/3 more if fresh)
- 2 litres boiling water
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3cm chunk of ginger root, chopped
- Lots of freshly ground black pepper
- small handful of dried chanterelle mushrooms
- 1-1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
- soy sauce to taste
Cut all of the seaweeds into small pieces and place in a large pan. Add the boiling water, then all the rest of the ingredients, except the soy sauce. Place a lid on the pan and leave to simmer for 40 minutes. Place the mixture in a food processor and blend till the pieces are broken down, or strain if you prefer a clear broth. Add the soy sauce to taste. Serves 6 as a small bowl of soup, or 12 as a small starter/taster.
The finished Broth, before I ladle it into a hot food flask and take it to the beach to share with participants on a seaweed foraging course.