This wild leafy plant is succulent, crisp & refreshing. It’s very easy to identify and most likely that you’ve already seen it! Pennywort loves to grow on stony walls, and in marshy, damp areas, anchoring itself between the stones and growing in a crown like shape. I’d describe them as lily pad shaped, round with a long, whitish stem. (As ever when foraging, be careful and don’t eat anything unless you are 100% certain!)
I’ve found a lot of wild herbs or leaves can have very strong flavours, occasionally hard to balance but this is where pennywort comes in. It almost acts like a diluting agent, turning harsh flavours softer making them more palatable. One of my favourite combinations is three cornered leek with pennywort and sorrel. The crispness of the pennywort is great against the acidic sorrel and the raw oniony flavour of the leek. Making great additions to a salad, they bring a wow factor and offer that back-to-the-land way of living that I have fallen in love with.
Here, I’ve written a small recipe for a salad using finely sliced shallots, pickled with yellow mustard seeds. This would be great with any grilled meat or oily fish.
100g freshly picked & washed pennywort
1 shallot thinly sliced on a mandolin
1 bulb of fennel thinly sliced on a mandolin
100ml of cider vinegar
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
Pinch of salt
50ml Rapeseed oil
Begin by filling a bowl with cold water to wash the pennywort. Place the leaves in the water and gently move them around. Leave to stand for 5 mins, this will allow the dirt to fall to the bottom and the leaves will float at the surface.
Thinly slice your shallot on the mandolin into rings, place in a bowl with a pinch of salt with the cider vinegar and mustard seeds. This will lightly pickle the two & soften them both. Leave this to stand for 30 mins or so, then add the rapeseed oil.
Thinly slice the fennel as fine as possible, almost glass like! Add the fennel to the shallot mixture and thoroughly mix through. Now add the pennywort and re mix, being careful not to break up the leaves. This salad will serve two as a main meal with any grilled meat or oily fish or as a side salad for four people.