It’s a bit overcast today which is almost a relief after five days of scorching early summer sun. We are heading home after a blissful half term break in Cornwall. It’s wild and untamed here, giving the children a lot of freedom. They can disappear for hours at a time scrambling over the rocks, exploring the many grassy paths which lead down to the coves where they mess around skimming stones into the sea.
After our last swim we walk back to the house sandy and salty, foraging as we go for a few leaves of wild cabbage which we have been adding to our daily green juice. We pack up the house and empty the fridge and veg box to make one last meal. It’s is almost the best one! Boiled eggs, steamed asparagus, rye bread, Cornish Yarg cheese and a Wild Sea Cabbage salad.
Sea Cabbage grows wild along the coast here, I always thought it was Sea Kale but on closer inspection and looking at the flowers I realise it’s Wild Cabbage which is considered a native British Plant. It’s also sometimes known as Silverwhips. Many modern cabbages of today have all been bred from this wild cabbage including Kohlrabi, Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts. It was thought to have been brought to Britain by the Saxons and Romans, but it’s very difficult to date and could go back even further. Primitave man quite often lived in this littoral habitat foraging for their food, which makes complete sense with so much abundance. Our more recent descendants had a saying that, ‘when the tide was out the dinner table was set’
Sea Cabbage grows up on the cliffs and thrives along the coast but it can also be grown like any other cabbage and will do well in most garden soils. Although it is scarce now in its natural habitat, it can be used as a cut-and-come-again plant. So if treated with respect with just a few leaves taken from any one plant it won’t be harmed.
Eat the younger leaves as the older ones can be a little tough. The flowering heads taste like Broccoli and can also be eaten raw or steamed and are delicious sautéed in a little olive oil and garlic. I have been told it also makes a very good Sauerkraut.
Sea Cabbage or Silverwhip Salad
For 2 hungry adults
A bunch of Sea Cabbage or Kale
1 Small Shallot
1/4 Red Onion sliced thinly into half moons
A Sprig of Wild Spermint
Start by cutting out the central stem from the leaves. Stack the leaves on top of each other in small batches, it helps if the leaves are all facing the same direction. Roll the leaves so that you can chiffonade them into fine ribbons with a sharp knife.
Place the ribbons into a bowl. To tenderise the leaves massage them with your hands using a little olive oil and flakey sea salt.
Slice red onion and shallot finely and add to the bowl
Sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds and torn up spearmint
A little extra olive oil and flakey salt to massage the Sea Cabbage
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon of runny honey
1 clove of garlic crushed
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
This salad dressing makes a lot more than you need so make it in a jar and keep in the fridge.