Cuisine - Foraging in Matakana

By: Lauraine Jacobs

It’s amazing to think that when you are making something like a green salad or a delicious smoothie, you can pop out to your back lawn and find a few tasty greens – which you may have always thought of as weeds – to add flavour and interest to your dish or drink. That is one of the takeaway ideas from recent foraging workshops held in Matakana.

A selection of snacks, featuring foraged food, prepared by chef Cory Campbell.
A selection of snacks, featuring foraged food, prepared by chef Cory Campbell.

Josie Jackson, the engine behind the Zero Waste Matakana Coast Facebook group, was impressed when she saw Peter Langlands on TV’s Country Calendar. He is regarded as New Zealand’s foremost forager and visited our region to conduct the workshops at Jackson’s invitation.

There’s been a rising interest in foraged foods, especially among folk who take care to ensure there are plenty of nutrients in what they eat. Most weeds have to fight for survival and are therefore far more nutrient dense than most things in the vegetable patch. So those dandelions, oxalis (woodsorrel), sow thistle, wild fennel, flax (harakeke) seeds, purslane, and kawakawa that may be in your garden or on the roadside should not be overlooked.

As part of the programme, two dinners were served. One group went foraging with Langlands and Jackson on Sunday afternoon and returned to enjoy a dinner prepared by chef Will Michell in The Smoko Room at the Sawmill Brewery. Among his courses, a salad made with iceplant, samphire, local herbs and a samphire mayonnaise was received with much acclaim.

On Langlands’ final night, another dinner was held in a private house overlooking Omaha Beach. Chef Cory Campbell served a perfectly formed meal that incorporated all manner of local and foraged foods, including kina, paua, crayfish, blue mussels, buffalo, tender beef, pumpkin, figs, kimchi, oysters, feijoas, blueberries, peaches and more. The garnishes Campbell had found included wild fennel, sea parsley, nasturtium, karamu berries, sea figs, purslane and koromiko.  

Cory shared his feijoa sorbet recipe, which was served as a palate cleanser between the entrée and main course. It is necessary to make it in a food processor so that you can control the texture. It takes little time to make, but it is necessary to start a day ahead by freezing the fruit.

Chef Cory Campbell’s Feijoa sorbet, Photo Sophie Randrup
Chef Cory Campbell’s Feijoa sorbet, Photo Sophie Randrup

Cory Campbell’s Feijoa Sorbet

4 large ripe feijoas
2 ripe bananas
4 tablespoons of Greek yogurt
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar

On the first day, cut the feijoas lengthwise in half. Scoop out the flesh carefully and freeze in a plastic container. Keep the skin intact and freeze the scooped out feijoa halves as they will be used to serve the sorbet in. Peel and cut the bananas into chunks, place in a plastic container and freeze.

Next day, cut the frozen feijoa into chunks, place all the ingredients into the food processor and blitz until smooth. You want the consistency of a soft-serve ice cream.

Enjoy immediately by scooping the mixture into the frozen feijoa halves and serving with a teaspoon. Serves 4.

Lauraine Jacobs


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