Hello again heat eaters, for april I have another recipe/review fusion for you but this one isn’t my review of someone else’s recipe. No, this month I’m looking into an odd idea that recently caught my eye.
Chilli leaf salad.
I never thought I’d do a salad for this blog. Practically every salad I make just comes down to sticking my favourite raw veg in a bowl with olive oil and my latest chilli infused vinegar. There’s nothing exciting about it and it certainly doesn’t make for a main dish.
But, while this recipe won’t ever be the bulk of a meal, it is definitely an attention grabbing concept. Enough so, I feel, to stand on its own here.
Today’s recipe takes a leaf each from all my biggest chilli plants and combines them with other delicate flavours to keep from overpowering them. Because the plants aren’t nearly as strong as their fruit.
But, unlike their fruit, many cultures believe them to be poisonous. Including most of the western hemisphere.
It is the koreans who have proved otherwise, referring to the leaves as “gochutnip” and making a salad not too unlike my own.
Chilli plants may be related to such things as potatoes and deadly nightshade but they don’t have anything close to the toxin levels found in those plants’ foliage. The fact that I’m still here two weeks on, with not even as much as a stomach ache, is further evidence of that.
And, now that the safety talk is out the way, here’s what I did:
First off, I took a leaf each from my healthiest pepper plants, some of the hottest in the world I might add, and then I mixed them fifty fifty with wild garlic. Partially for flavour and partially to bulk out the dish and not have to traumatize my beauties any more than was absolutely necessary.
For those who don’t know, wild garlic, or “ramsons” as they are more properly known, are not grown by people but instead readily available in woodland all over europe at this time of year. They can be picked and, after a good wash, eaten and they make excellent salad leaves with a mild, garlicky flavour when fresh. They even smell like garlic when broken so you can easily identify them even if you don’t know what they look like.
But, that said, it’s still better if you do so here’s part of the patch I picked from:
Just a large handful of these will do here but don’t take them all from one plant. Instead, try to take only one or two leaves from each well established one to allow the population to thrive and return even bigger next year.
Then I chopped 4 spring onion into a bowl, tore up the leaves, tossed them about a bit. Viola, a leafy green salad was born!
But I’ve already had to mark one post “mature” this month so, in the interest of keeping this one family friendly, it needs a little dressing.
For this, I gently fried some sesame seeds in a dry pan until they smelled nice and toasted, then I combined them with olive oil and white wine vinegar, before drizzling it all over the salad.
In hindsight, this vinegar was a mistake. It was at odds with the sesame seeds and just a touch too strong for the rest of the dish. Were I to do this again, I would leave it out.
But honestly, I don’t think I will do this again.
It wasn’t a bad salad and, should you have a load of excess chilli leaves at the end of the season or after pruning, by all means eat them in this fashion. It was not, however, anything all that special.
The wild garlic was great but the chilli leaves were hardly any different from most italian salad greenery, except that they had a sharp little hint of bitterness at their base, similar to what you might get in minorly over-brewed tea.
In a salad, this bitterness went unnoticed but so too did their other finer points, making them little more than just another leaf with
They were one that paired fairly well with the slightly smokey nuttiness of the sesame seeds but, ultimately, nothing unique.
Something of a disappointment but hey, at least I can now say with absolute certainty that chilli leaves are both edible and palatable.
Things could have gone a lot lot worse.