Foraging for supper -Part one- Blackberries
Here in the UK blackberries must surely be the most commonly foraged "Food for Free" and the low golden sunlight of September is a great inducement to get out in the fresh air for a spot of foraging. For most UK dwellers, whether or not they live in the countryside, blackberries are simply the most accessible, often growing around wasteland, churchyards and recreation spaces as well as traditional hedgerows.
The humble blackberry is something of a nutritional powerhouse, bursting with antioxidants, rich in fibre, vitamins C.K and manganese (vital for a healthy immune system) At their most prolific in late August and early September they are easy to freeze for use throughout the winter. Larger, cultivated berries are often stocked in supermarket freezer sections if you miss the picking season.
Apart from the usual, though undoubtedly delicious double act with apples in pies and crumbles or jam what can you do to make the most of this delicious, nutritious and best of all, free resource?
Forager's salad is a family favourite here, just the right combination of sweet, salty, tart and crunchy, delicious flavours, super nutritious and very quick and easy to throw together for a lunch or supper in a matter of minutes. I haven't given precise quantities as it's just a matter of adding what you have to hand.
Forager's salad -serves 2
A cup of blackberries
2 eating apples, unpeeled and sliced very thinly (a mandolin is ideal for this)
1 small red onion, also very finely sliced
Half a cup of walnuts/pecans/hazelnuts
4 slices parma ham, pancetta or streaky bacon
To serve- 2 generous handfuls of mixed salad leaves
Dressing : 6 squashed blackberries, a dash each of honey, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper to taste, all mixed vigorously in a small jug.
Fry the parma ham till crispy in a large frying pan, crumble into small pieces
Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper
Toast the nuts in the same pan where they will absorb the salty, meaty juices
Arrange salad leaves on two plates, add the finely sliced apple and red onion and the crumbled cheese
Sprinkle over the nuts and and blackberries.
Drizzle over the balsamic dressing and enjoy!