Rachel Lambert: forager, author, guide
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Seaweed crispbreads freshly baked

These seaweed crispbreads are seasoned with two seaweeds and seaweed salt and are delicious! I mean, fat, salt and umami, what could go wrong? The basic recipe was given to me by my dear friend Paul, and I've incorporated seaweed into the mix to add a lovely depth of flavour and goodness. These also happen to be vegan. They are both crispy and slightly chewy in texture and will leave you wanting more.

Here I share the recipe, plus a little on the benefit of adding seaweeds to your meals.

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Green seaweeds are wonderful added to salads, pizza or to roast in the oven (see my Foraging book and Seaweed book for more ideas and recipes). Like all seaweeds they need careful harvesting to ensure that they continue to grow and flourish.

Here I introduce 3 green seaweeds:  how and when to sustainably harvest. 

I highly recommend using scissors to harvest seaweeds, as cutting the weed makes it easier to leave the holdfast (seaweed's equivalent of a root) behind, enabling the weed to continue to live. Below are specific guidelines for three green seaweeds that I regularly teach.

Sea Lettuce (Ulva lactuca)

Sea Lettuce starts to grow well from Spring to Summer. Like our leafy land greens, it responds well to light and warmth. They are several types of Sea lettuce, each ones grows to a different length. Make sure the seaweed is attached and cut the upper two thirds, leaving the lower third intact. Harvest between spring and early summer. The plants will be larger towards summer and the vitamin C with be higher then too.

Gutweed/Sea Greens (Ulva intestinalis)

Gutweed also has many different types but is categorised as long, single, unbranched strands, compared to the sheets of sea lettuce. Harvest at a similar time to sea lettuce, and cut in small patches where it grows profusely.

Remember to pick in rocky pools rather than sandy beaches. As each of those strands is actually a tube and if sand gets in the tubes it won't get out easily!

Velvet Horn/Green Sponge Fingers (Codium fragile)

There are two sub-species of Velvet horn, and I rarely come across it in vast amounts. Never take more than half of any one plant, and harvest scantily, leaving most of plant intact. Harvest between the Spring and Autumn.

Find out about this and so much more on my regular seaweed foraging courses

Dish of ground seaweed

Gutweed/Sea Greens (Ulva intestinalis) ready to be used in a Green Olive and Seaweed Tapanade

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!

Egg cup of dried and ground Bladder wrack seaweedPre-blended ingredients for Green Olive and Seaweed TapanadeThe finished dish of Green Olive and Seaweed Tapanade

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.

Ingredients

  • 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.

Enjoy a seaweed tapanade on the beach

 

Dulse and gutweed about to be blended with flour to make seaweed bread

(Organic flour, gutweed (Ulva intestinalis) and dulse (Palmaria palmata))

Picnics, according to BBC food, require planning; as much as I agree that some planning is needed, I also want it all - good homemade food and little fuss. With our erratic UK weather, sometimes an impromptu picnic is a great adventure too, though if I can, I like to avoid shop-bought convenience food. Instead, I have a few standard homemade go-to goodies that I rely on for picnics.

Homemade bread* feels like a real treat, and it is so easy to make! Apart from 10 minutes preparation, you just need time to allow your bread to rise, then bake. Despite Summer being the time of lots of fresh fruit, salads and veg, I find I'm often prioritising outdoor adventures over thought-through meals, so adding a handful of dried or fresh seaweed into bread seems an easy way to up my nutrition and keep taking care of myself.

Baking, kneading and a slice of freshly baked seaweed bread

(Making seaweed bread)

Best seaweeds to add into bread

Seaweed bread is tasty and good for you. Some of the seaweeds suitable for bread are; sea lettuce, gutweed and dulse. You can use a small handful of dried or fresh seaweed, chopped. You can also add a teaspoon of other dried and ground seaweeds such as; wireweed, bladder wrack, egg wrack or feel free to experiment with others. I have a sea lettuce bread recipe in my wild food foraging book. and this is the basic recipe I use for all my bread, unless I'm making seaweed foccacia!

The other couple of quick and easy wild food dishes are my recipes for; Rock Samphire Salsa Verde, which you can make in 10 minutes, and my favourite Carrot, Ginger and Seaweed Salad made in 10 minutes and both these dishes will keep for a few days in the fridge too. Topped with Elderflower cordial - your picnic can suddenly feel rather wild and special as well as quick and fuss-free.

And of course, if the weather turns you can still enjoy all this wonderful food indoors.

Picnic tips for always having seaweed available

*When I make bread, I tend to make a couple of large loaves at once then slice and freeze what I can't use within two days, this way I have seaweed bread available all the time. Easy!

Rockpool with seaweeds

(Dulse and gutweed seaweeds in a Cornish rock pool ready to be sustainably harvested for seaweed bread)

I like to experiment. It's not that I don't repeat tried and tested recipes that I love. I do, but sometimes I like to experiment and try something a little bit different.

I have a couple of recipes for seaweed hummus and seaweed dips (including Broad Bean and Sea Greens Dip and Kelp Hummus which you'll find in my Seaweed Foraging book) that I've made again and again. Though this particular Saturday afternoon I fancied doing something different.

I have a shelf in my kitchen dedicated to seaweeds, call it my seaweed shelf, if you like. I perused the different varieties of dried seaweeds I had and decided to use a combination of two seaweeds. In my freezer I had lots of frozen peas, I love frozen peas, and decided to combine the peas and seaweeds, with lemon and garlic, of course.

Dried seaweed known as sea greens

(Bowl of dried gutweed - Ulva intestinalis - sometimes known as sea greens)

Gut weed, also known as Sea Greens (Ulva intestinalis) was my obvious choice with peas, though I'd also have some great successes adding Pepper dulse (Osmundea  pinnatifida or Laurencia pinnatifida) to many dips as it adds a spicy kick to recipes and accentuates flavours already there. So my choice was made; gutweed for its wonderful herby flavour and lots of nutrition including B12 and protein, and pepper dulse for the peppery umami flavour.

Close up of Osmundea pinnatifida

Pepper dulse growing off the rocks

Dips are so easy to make, just whizz them up and serve. Really.

the process of making seaweed and pea dip

Once blended, I sealed the Pea and Seaweed dip in a couple of tupper-ware containers and took it to the beach where I met a group of eager and budding foragers for a Seaweed Foraging Course. Towards the end of the afternoon we sat on the rocks and ate. Two tubs of this more-ish dip went rather fast, and was enjoyed by the adults and kids on tasty seaweed bread.

Eating seaweed on the beach

Pea and Seaweed Dip

Ingredients

  • 425  g frozen peas (defrosted)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 5 g dried and ground  gutweed seaweed (Ulva intestinalis)
  • 5 g dried and  ground pepper dulse seaweed (Osmundea pinnatifida or Laurencia pinnatifida)
  • Juice from 1 and 1/2 lemons
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Blend all the ingredients and serve. Keeps well for a few days and perfect on the beach with fresh bread.

On the beach, we've almost finished the Pea and Seaweed dip!

Wandering the beach near my home in Penzance, I found myself perusing the organic wreckage strewn across the sand after a storm. Mingled amongst the debri of Sea Spaghetti (Himanthalia elongata) and its own roots I found Sea Grass. Looking a little like washed up wild leeks, or green strands of sea weed, this plant is rather unique and important.

A strand of sea grass on the beach

What is Sea Grass?

I first read the words 'Sea Grass' in relation Gutweed, Ulva intestinalis seaweed, it was a term used to describe this long, thin, green seaweed. Who wouldn't re-name Gutweed, lets face it, Sea Grass is a much nicer, but a misleading name. Sea Grass is not a seaweed, nor is it gutweed. Sea Grass is Sea Grass; an actual plant that, unusually and unlike seaweed, roots itself under the sea, forming meadows, almost like underwater fields. I've kayaked over it on the Helford and swum over it on the Isles of Scilly and it is beautiful to see.

I love beauty. I also love function and Sea Grass also has a really important function.

Needless to say I was both pleased and saddened to see it washed up, in abundance on my local beach. Pleased, because it meant that it was, or had been, alive and growing nearby. Sad, because now it was detached from its rooted home and lying dead.

Sea Grass washed up

What's the importance of Sea Grass?

There are over 60 species of Sea Grass (Posidoniaceae, Zosteraceae, Hydrocharitaceae and Cymodoceaceae) worldwide and they provide essential ecosystems for wildlife, produce oxygen and help dissipate waves. Though to me, the most important and stunning function of Sea Grass is that it stores up to 10% of the world's carbon. Seaweeds also help to store carbon. Annually, Sea Grass is considered to lock up 24.7 million tons of carbon. Though some Sea Grasses are at risk, and expected to become extinct.

In times gone by, Sea Grass has been used to stuff mattresses and even used as bandages or fertiliser. Though these days, I think that storing carbon is the most valuable thing it can do for us and the planet. Sea Grass beds (areas where they grow) need protecting, as over 12,000 square miles of Sea Grass have been lost over the last few decades. Activities that contribute to its decline include; over fishing and mechanical disturbance such as motorboat blades disturbing it when moving over shallow water.

Sea Grass washed up

How can we help protect Sea Grass?

Sea Grass provides an amazing bed for biodiversity and is currently disappearing at a rate of 2 football fields an hour. There are several ways we can protect Sea Grass (boat propellers are mentioned above, and awareness of where Sea Grass beds are and tides in relation to this, so not to disturb it at low tide). Other ways include reducing fertilisers and pollution which end up running off into the Sea Grass beds blocking the sun that is needed for the Sea Grass to photosynthesis and reproduce. As well as reducing over C02 consumption, as Sea Grass is also affected by rising sea temperatures, which is linked to climate change. Supporting small scale fishing rather than over fishing, and reducing trawling fishing and bad practice. Finally, sharing the word on the importance of Sea Grass to us and the rest of the ecosystem and wildlife.

Learn about seaweeds and how to protect them

As well as the information above (which also benefits seaweeds), on my seaweed foraging courses I show participants how to harvest seaweeds by hand, for personal use, in a sustainable way. It's one way we can take care of the seaweeds that are taking care of us. I run seaweed foraging courses most months, and you can view courses here on the course calendar.

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