You’re probably wondering what is Red Orach?
Let me explain. It also known as Mountain Spinach, Red Orach Spinach and even French Spinach. The origins of Red Orach can be traced back to Persia. Although both Red Orach, and Spinach are all closely related; both have been around during the same time. Spinach for some reason (and not to mention Popeye) was; and still is the popular edible leaf. Red Orach even made it to North America. I will say, a must have as one of your ‘back of the flower border’ plants. Always makes a great talking and focal point; but as a culinary leaf ;has never seemed to have made it.
Red Orach leaves are strikingly beautiful and velvety in texture. A dull deep red leaf front, but makes it up on the underside; the most vibrant reddish colour is revealed, I don’t think photos do it justice.. Even if you don’t add these to your salads or savouries, it is worth growing it in the back of the flower border. These plants can put on height as much as 10ft. My single plant last year was a dizzy height of 8ft, but this 1 plant produced so many seeds, that some have self seeded in my cottage flower patch. Perfect!
Red Orach does not loose the red colour when cooked, just becomes a deeper colour, when wilted. They do however produces a lot of water, yes you guessed it, Red, perfect if you wish to add natural colour e.g Rice. Be warned, Rice will turn pink and not red, no matter how much Orach leaf you wilt!
Peas are seasonal too, and freshly picked pods, shelled and used within a few hours are the best. We make the most of this seasonal crop, and when the glut starts, the Freezer is where they end up. Coming to think of it, I have never given peas away like I do Courgette!!
As soon as the first Pea pods are harvested and the Orach starts putting on height, I start harvesting the tender leaves. Quickly pod the peas as well as chop and saute the Orach in a little oil with shallots, (not necessary but the shallot helps take up all the colour rich water the Orach releases. Make a Muffin batter, together with Smoked Cheese (as an alternative to adding Bacon), makes these mini Muffins ideal as a Picnic Basket item.
This bake takes less than 40 minutes from start to finish. Simply allow to cool completely if taking on a Picnic. Can also be served warm with a lovely Spicy Onion Chutney. Be warned: Will only keep for 3 days in the cool dark place such as a fridge.
Alternatives: Replace Orach for Chard or Spinach or for a meaty option add finely diced fried Bacon Lardons.
Pea & Red Orach Muffins
Delightful mini savoury muffins
- 75g Fresh Peas
- 15-20 (tender) Red Orach leaves sautéed with a little diced Shallot
- 150g Self Raising Flour
- 1tsp Cayenne Pepper (optional or use less)
- 1/2tsp Fine Sea Salt
- 25g Smoked Cheese
- 125ml Milk
- 2tbsp Sunflower Oil
- 1 Free Range Egg
- In a bowl, Sift flour and salt. Add chilli powder and stir in cheese and vegetables
- In a measuring jug place Milk, Oil and Egg; beat together.
- Make a well in the combined flour and add the milk mixture slowly,stirring gentley until all ingredients have combined.
- Lightly brush a little Oil in mini Muffin trays and spoon in the mixture; to fill each muffin compartment two thirds full.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180˙C until golden brown. To check insert a skewer in the middle of the muffin. If when pulled out still has runny batter, allow to cook a further minute, and repeat skewer test.
- Remove trays from oven and allow to cool in the muffin trays for 10mins approx.
- Carefully remove the warm muffins onto a cooling rack. Will keep 3 days in the Fridge in an air tight container.
Serve: Warm or Cold with a helping of Onion Chutney