Warm up with Wild Healthy Comfort Food

By Sarah Watson

Sea beet (Beta vulgaris subspecies maritima) is the wild parent of cultivated chard and beetroot, it grows close to the sea and is common around the Sussex coast. It’s hardy and nutritious, being rich in vitamins A and C, antioxidants and minerals. The green, pointed leaves are similar to  spinach, but glossy, fleshier, and variable in shape.

Sussex sea beet gratin

Sea beet has a rich, earthy flavour with a hint of the sea, although the raw leaves taste quite soapy. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s delicious creamed sea beet gratin adds white sauce and a cheesy breadcrumb topping to the blanched succulent leaves – perfect with a pork or wild boar dish and some buttery mashed potato.

The herring season in Sussex begins around late October, by this time my elderberry-infused vinegar is ready for pickling herring (or mackerel). With the high omega-3 fatty acid content of the fish, and the flu-fighting properties and vitamin C content of elderberries, it’s a super-healthy dish!

Herring Pickled in Elderberry Vinegar
Herring pickled in elderberry vinegar

Take Nordic inspiration and pile pickled fish on top of toasted rye bread with finely sliced red onion, and for the comfort factor, add good dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche. To get my unique ‘Herring pickled in elderberry vinegar’ recipe, email me on sarah@wildfeast.co.uk and I’ll also send you my monthly e-newsletter.

As always, use good plant identification books to identify your finds to 100% certainty before eating them, and leave behind a good proportion of each plant to regenerate and provide food for wildlife. Discover more about identifying and cooking with wild herbs and flowers on a Wild Feast foraging & cookery course> book here.

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