Ever since we stumbled into Atlantic Kitchen’s range of dried seaweed products, we’ve been working up ways to use them. In the past few years, a revival in traditional ways to eat seaweed has the clean eating scene extolling the nutritional benefits of these ocean plants. But why are they not widely used in our cuisine, we asked ourselves? After all, we live on an island and we’re no strangers to consuming seaweed when going out for a Japanese meal (we love the taste!), so why not try it at home too?
To celebrate National Marine Week, we wanted to inspire you to eat more than just fish from the ocean. And who better to ask about the benefits of seaweed and how to consume it than Atlantic Kitchen themselves? Led by Ruth Dronfield, the company is spearheading the trend with their range of organic and wild seaweed. From Dulse, which is a vibrant source of the ‘fifth taste’ umami to Sea Spaghetti, an al-dente vegetable pasta with a milder profile.
Seaweeds all have exceptional nutritional profiles, being rich sources of minerals including iron, calcium and iodine, which are vital for optimum health. They uniquely also contain sodium alginate, which creates a feeling of fullness and, according to a study by Newcastle University in 2010 can reduce fat intake from food by up to 75%. If you fancy an alternative to your usual courgettis, try the below for a nice summer twist.
Keep reading below for more insight into their sustainability credentials.
This is a perfect summer recipe, and can be eaten hot or cold. The smoked trout really compliments the flavours of the seaweed and makes a really fresh and healthy midweek meal.
Sea Spaghetti is simply a different type of seaweed to the others. It naturally grows in long strands - up to three metres in length - and is simply harvested, dried and cut to length. Nothing added, no process, nothing taken out - apart from water in the drying. It’s nature’s homemade pasta!
Ingredients (Serves 3-4)
- 2 fillets of smoked trout
- Handful of peas
- 1 lemon
- 4 tbsp creme fraiche
- 200g Linguini (we go for a gluten-free variety)
- 50g Sea Spaghetti
For the pesto
- 1/2 clove of garlic
- Sea salt and black pepper
- a handful of toasted whole almonds
- 3 handfuls of parsley (basil, mint or dill would work too)
- Squeeze of lemon
- About 100ml of olive oil
For the Pesto:
Pulse all ingredients in a food processor or pestle and mortar, add enough oil to reach your preferred consistency, we kept ours quite loose so it coats the pasta and seaweed nicely. This will last in an air tight container for about a week in the fridge.
For the Linguini:
- Cook the linguini according the the packet instructions. Bring a separate pan of unsalted water to the boil, as the seaweed will need about 15 minutes. (They can be cooked together if you are short on pots and time but otherwise it's better to cook separately.)
- Bring a small pan of water to the boil and cook the peas for a couple of minutes.
- Once the seaweed and pasta are cooked coat thoroughly in the pesto then add the peas and top with creme fraiche, lemon zest, flaked trout and toasted almonds.
Quick pickled cucumber (optional):
As an optional extra we added pickled cucumber for a tasty zing. To make:
- Thinly slice the cucumber.
- Combine equal parts water, vinegar and sugar (or honey) with a few crushed peppercorns and a pinch of salt to make the pickling liquor. Slowly heat until the sugar or honey dissolves, and then leave to cool before adding the cucumber.
- They will be ready within an hour, but can be stored in a sterilized jar for up to a month in the fridge.
Now for a bit on seaweeds and their sustainability credentials....
First, some background: seaweeds are algae, among the most ancient of all plant life on the planet and one of the most important sources of life on earth. There are around 400 types of seaweed in the North Atlantic, all of which are edible and full of nutrients, but not all of which are necessarily good for eating. Some grow too deep, some are too tough, some are too difficult to harvest. Atlantic Kitchen selects the easiest to cook and best to eat, because eating shouldn't be about forcing yourself to do something good, it should be about pleasure and satisfaction, things some seaweeds offer in abundance.
Seaweeds are the most nutritionally dense of any plant on the planet, far more so than any land vegetable. With the sea being the source of all life, who could be surprised by this? From their mineral-rich habitat they have lots of iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium. They also contain a complete protein and B-vitamins, which are rarely found outside meat and fish. And just half a teaspoon of seaweed a day completely resolves iodine deficiency, from which a majority of women in the UK suffer and can cause fatigue, depression, birth defects and weight gain.
Seaweeds, if harvested properly, are an incredibly environmentally positive food source. For a start, they grow very quickly - kelp can grow up to 60 cm per day! They also require no precious fresh water to grow, unlike land vegetables and feed for meat. Most importantly perhaps they absorb massive quantities of carbon and release it as oxygen, so much so that the giant kelp forests deep in the ocean have been called the lungs of the planet. Oh and then of course seaweeds also offer deeply mineralised hiding places for baby turtles until they are big and strong enough to go it alone in the big blue. Strong stuff!