Sunday, 7 October 2012

Cobnut, Blackberry & Fennel Salad. A Forager's Supper

As the last of the blackberries hang from the hedgerows, here's a recipe for a lovely salad that offers a delicious way of using them up.  And for those that wish to continue with the foraging theme for this dish, cobnuts are a wonderful way of adding crunch to the salad and although having a strong-hold in 'the garden of England' - the county of Kent, they can be found elsewhere if you look hard enough.

Cobnuts gained popularity amongst the Victorians and Edwardians and were often served by the rich as an accompaniment with port and cheese.  With direct rail lines between London and Kent in the 1800's, transporting cobnuts from their Kentish plantations was made easy and they were sold in the capital's markets.  However during the First World War, the production of cobnuts ceased as growers changed to farming other crops that were more profitable and the cobnut trees disappeared.  Now cobnut trees are making a come-back across Britain, still largely centred in Kent, but nevertheless, good news for eager foragers! For more information about cobnuts, visit:

My dear friend Lucy, a fellow foodie and forager fan, has given me her recipe for a Cobnut, Blackberry & Fennel Salad (below).  If you cannot source cobnuts, they can be bought via,  although hazelnuts make an excellent replacement.

Also to note, an extra bonus for vegetarians – six cobnuts are said to contain the same amount of protein as a 4oz sirloin steak! So all the more reason to go nutty and get foraging this Autumn!!

Toasted Cobnut, Fennel and Blackberry Salad with Goats Cheese

For the dressing:
freshly squeezed lemon juice
drizzle of sesame oil
pinch of sea salt
black pepper
raspberry balsamic vinegar
(or regular balsamic vinegar if preferred)

For the Salad:
1 small bulb fennel,very thinly sliced
1 handful of juicy blackberries
Veggie parmesan shavings
toasted cob nuts (or hazelnuts)
mixed salad leaves
lemon wedges

Serve with Goats’ Cheese

·         Slice a bulb of raw fennel really thinly, almost wafer thin.
·         Dress with freshly squeezed lemon juice, a drizzle of sesame oil, and lots of salt and  black pepper. 
·         Add a splash of raspberry balsamic vinegar if you have it (or ordinary balsamic vinegar) before adding this to a bowl of mixed salad leaves, toss well.  
·         Scatter over some nice ripe blackberries, some roughly chopped toasted cob nuts (or hazelnuts) and lemon wedges.
·         Place slices of slightly melted goats' cheese on top and serve with crusty sourdough or ciabatta bread.

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