Eat Your (Sea) Greens!

Words by
Gal Dente
Images by
Alex Reznick
| November 10, 2015

A sea breeze is blowing in, and change is in the air. We’re now on the crest of a new wave of eating – our industrial approach towards feeding the world’s population is causing our planet more harm than good and the cracks are starting to show…

So before Mother Nature decides to rain down on us with some apocalyptic nightmare we need to stand up, brush the sand from our togs and start looking to the horizon for better and more sustainable ways to feed ourselves. One of these solutions is in our sandy backyards: it’s the humble seaweed!

Requiring no fertilization or fresh water to grow, seaweed has a carbon footprint of zero, deservedly being touted as one of the best sources of environmentally friendly food. Naturally we want in and have decided to explore four different types of seaweed to share how you can (deliciously) incorporate them into your everyday diet.

Let your taste buds AND Mother Nature thank you!

For Breakfast: Fried Dulse & Eggs with Baked Beans

Now that WHO has taken bacon off the menu (btw we still hid some chorizo in the beans) why not try the bacon of the seaweed world, our new best friend, dulse (Palmaria palmate). We embraced it for its ‘umami’ rich flavour and this morning fried it up in an ode to an English breakfast with eggs and baked beans.

Prep time: 30 minutes + overnight for soaking beans
Cook time: 50 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 150 g of dried borlotti beans, soaked overnight and boiled until soft
  • 1 chorizo sausage, chopped
  • 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 x 400 g tins of good quality Italian chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Eggs, 1 per person
  • 1 packet of dulse whole leaf seaweed

Method

Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a large saucepan, over medium heat. Once pan is hot throw in your chorizo and sauté for a few minutes, giving it time to release the natural fats and flavours. Then add your onion and garlic and cook down until soft, translucent and just beginning to brown. Add your chopped carrot and cook for another few minutes until it begins to soften. Throw in the paprika, give it a good stir through and add the cans of chopped tomatoes. Cook over a low heat (just bubbling), for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from stove and set aside to get a start on frying your dulse and egg.

In a small frying pan heat a small glaze of olive oil, once hot place a few whole strips of dulse in and fry for a minute on both sides, until light and crisp. Keep a close eye on it as it can burn quite quickly. Once done, dry on paper towel. Add a little more oil to the same pan and fry eggs.

Serve baked beans in a bowl, sprinkled with chopped parsley then top with egg and a few strips of fried dulse!

The fried dulse is also delicious eaten as chips. After breakfast we fried the rest of the packet to eat as a snack, you’ll find them quite moreish!

Note – We used Maine Coast Sea Vegetables’ dulse, which can be purchased at most good whole foods or specialty grocery stores.

For Lunch: Egg and Atlantic Nori Sandwich

For lunch we revive an old classic, the ‘egg and mayo sambo’, with some help from our second underwater friend, Atlantic nori (Porphyra dioica). It’s simple and it’s mouthwateringly delicious. Let’s just say that eating lunch at your work desk has never felt so good!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 5 medium boiled eggs, chopped when cooled
  • 4 tbs mayonnaise
  • 3 small shallots, finely sliced
  • 3 tsp Atlantic nori flakes, plus a sprinkle extra for garnish
  • White pepper, to season
  • 2 cucumbers, sliced into thin rounds
  • Sliced bread, we used white but this recipe works well with any kind.

Method

Place egg, mayonnaise, nori and shallots in a bowl and stir to combine, season to taste with white pepper.

Place a layer of egg and nori mix on a slice of bread and top with a thin layer of sliced cucumber. Add an extra sprinkle of nori, put the top on your sandwich and enjoy!

Note – We bought our Atlantic nori flakes from Phyco Food Co. It can also be found at specialty grocery stores.

For Dinner: Wakame and Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells

For dinner we tackle a go-to, crowd pleasing baked pasta dish. Instead of stuffing our carbs with ricotta and spinach we subbed the cannelloni for shells and spinach for wakame (Undaria pinnatifida). And trust us, it’s even better! This easy TV dinner is sure to ‘wet’ your appetite.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients

Tomato sauce

  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ tbs capers in salt, rinsed and finely chopped
  • 2 x 400 g cans whole plum tomatoes, roughly chopped in liquid
  • 2 tbs butter for frying

Pasta shells

  • 500 g of fresh ricotta
  • 2 cups of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 20 g of dried wakame, equates to approximately 100g after soaking.
  • 2 tsp of coriander seeds, toasted and crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 250 g of dried large sized pasta shells, or enough to cover a medium sized baking dish.

Method

Add butter to a large saucepan and place over medium heat, when butter has just melted add onion, garlic and cook down for 5 minutes until it is soft and translucent. Add chopped capers and fry for another 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook so the tomatoes are just bubbling for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and put aside – you can also make this a day or two in advance.

Place dried wakame in a bowl of cold water and soak for 20 minutes (or according to the packet), using a sieve drain then gently squeeze out any excess water. Finely chop.

In a large bowl place ricotta, ¾ of a cup of the Parmesan cheese, coriander seeds, wakame and egg. Stir to combine and place aside.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, season with salt and cook shells to desired bite – naturally we enjoy ours a little al dente – then strain.

Cover the bottom of a medium sized baking dish with the tomato sauce. Spoon ricotta mixture into each of the cooked shells and nestle them in the tomato sauce, snugly in rows. Top with the remainder ¼ cup parmesan ­– or if you’re anything like us and love cheese, add a little extra!

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 20-30 minutes, or until cheese has melted and the little edges of your shells have started to crisp.

Note – We bought our wakame from Phyco Food Co. It can also be found at specialty grocery stores or most good Asian grocery stores. If you can’t find large pasta shells you can substitute with cannelloni.

For dessert: Ice Cream Sundaes with Hana Tsunomata, Matcha Jelly and Toffee Shards

And finally, is there anything this sea vegetable can’t do? We discovered it’s even great in dessert! We added a splash of hana tsunomata (Chondrus crispus) to our ‘under the sea’ version of the customary ice cream sundae and it was delicious!

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes + time for chilling jelly
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tub of good quality vanilla bean ice cream
  • 1 handful of dried hana tsunomata
  • Matcha powder for dusting
  • Matcha jelly
  • 500 ml of water
  • 2 g of agar agar powder
  • 1 tbs of sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp matcha powder

Toffee shards

  • ¾ cup of white sugar
  • 90 ml of water

Method

To make agar jelly, place 500 ml of cold water in a medium sized saucepan, add agar agar powder and stir for a minute to dissolve. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a spoon, then reduce heat and continue to stir and simmer for 5 minutes – this is a very important step and is done in order to activate its gelling properties.

After 5 minutes stir in sugar and matcha powder, when sugar has dissolved pour mixture into a grease free square jelly mould, leave on the bench to come to room temperature (agar agar sets at around 38-40 degrees). Once cooled, place in the fridge until you need to use it.

To make toffee shards, line a rimmed baking tray with baking paper. Place sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir to dissolve. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium heat and cook until sugar is light gold in colour. Immediately pour onto lined baking tray and tilt to spread, forming a thin layer, leave to cool. Once hard, break into shards.

To construct your sundae place a handful of dried hana tsunomata in cold water for 5 minutes to rehydrate then using a sieve, strain and set aside.

Remove agar jelly from fridge, turn mould upside down onto a chopping board, cut into cubes.

Place a few scoops of vanilla ice cream in a bowl and top – to taste – with jelly, hana tsunomata, sugar shards and dust with a final sprinkling of matcha powder.

Note – Hana tsunomata can be a little hard to find, but we bought ours online from Phyco Food Co.


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