The best way to truly appreciate winter vegetables is to visit the source, which is what I did during the month of December. In Germany’s open air farmers markets I found two of my favorite hard to find greens: mache and claytonia, along with pointed cabbage, leeks, salsify and daikon radish, fingerling potatoes and root crops that I could not even identify.
One of the best finds, however, was a bundle of fresh winter herbs known as Grüne Sosse. The Grüne Sosse in the market places usually comes assorted, wrapped in paper, and with various recipes printed on it and typically contains seven herbs:
Petersilie ( Parsley)
Pimpinelle (Salad Burnet)
Kerbel ( chervil)
Kresse (garden Cress)
My daughter lives in Germany and her neighbor, Helge, shared his expertise on the subject traditional Grüne Sosse along with his recipe.
He writes: ” I am not sure about this being a traditional recipe from the region. Well, depends on what you consider traditional : the recipe is indeed reported for a very long time here, but as you may guess from such things as ‘joghurt”, it has been modified, and most probably stems from the orient. First reason for this Sosse being so famous right in this region, is the fact that it brings to you the first (not-imported) vitamins of the year, and second reason is that our great poet Herr Goethe ate it with lust when he was a child, as he was born in Frankfurt. Well, at least rumours have it – he never mentioned it in his abundant works (though hundreds of farmers and professors dedicate a good deal of their efforts to find out more, as this would promote herb-growing and Sosse-selling to tourists in amounts beyond imagination), but he must have stumbled on it for sure.”
Helge’s Frankfurter Grüne Sosse
( Ellen’s note: This makes a large batch, so be prepared to eat a lot, have friends over or cut back the proportions to suit your appetite.)
6 eggs, hard boiled
4 cups of crème fraîche
4 cups of sour cream
1 cup of yoghurt (optional)
1 large bunch of Grüne Sosse herbs containing the following:
salad burnet, Pimpinelle
garden cress or land cress, Kresse
pepper (white, freshly ground)
about a tablespoon of white vinegar
a tablespoon of pumpkin seed oil
1. Mix sour cream, crème fraîche, pepper, a pinch of salt, vinegar and oil
2. Remove leaves and chop all herbs finely, (by hand vs blender otherwise it gets bitter and too ‘juicy’ and mix in with above.
3. Peel eggs. Remove egg yolk from two (boiled) eggs, mashing it up with fork, together with some oil, an eggspoon of mustard, some pepper and salt
5. Mix this with the creamy mixture
6. Slice up all eggs, decorate them on a dish, adding tomatoes etc. for the nice look
7. Now, you can increase the amounts depending on how many people there are – just do not forget to add more herbs, too!
The result is a creamy pesto type of spread that is served with hard boiled eggs, or slathered onto red skinned spring potatoes, various meats or even just a slice of crusty bread. As Helge notes, besides the delicious flavor, herbs and other spring greens provide natural health benefits.
Since fresh herbs are fragile, by the time we were home from the market and had gathered all the ingredients to make this recipe, the herbs had wilted. They were delicious in soup, however, and I am inspired to plant a collection of Grune Sosse herbs in my kitchen garden to connect to the history and traditions of Germany. Guten Appetit!