Sunday, June 24, 2007

WILDFOOD #2: Wild Weeds - Nut Bars with Karengo Goodness!

Bron's theme for the second WILDFOOD event is 'Wild Weeds'. I was wandering around town, wracking my brain for an idea to submit, when suddenly I saw it before me - a kelp and nut health bar! Kelp = seaweed = wild weed! These beauties were sitting on the shelf of my local health food store, reeking of healthy, knit-your-own-muesli, sock-and-sandal goodness. I stopped and considered them for a while, thought about shoplifting them, remembered I was middle-class and then realised I might just be able to make them myself substituting the kelp with the big dried bag of karengo I have at home...

Karengo is a type of seaweed, a member of the porphyra family found on parts of the New Zealand coastline. Maori harvest it for eating - its health benefits are substantial: high in protein, selenium, iodine and a raft of other minerals and vitamins.

Powering up the laptop, I googled for a recipe and found this. It seemed simplicity itself - I had everything at home so it was off to the Kai Lab for some baking! I changed things a little using:

-1 cup of chopped macadamia nuts
-half a cup of sesame seeds
-half a cup of chopped peanuts
-handful of dried karengo fronds (you're going to end up with about 4 teaspoons worth of karengo powder)
-half a cup of maple syrup

First, into the blender went the karengo - let rip until it turns into a powdery dust (don't use a food processor - it's a little too big and the karengo will just bounce off the spinning blades).
Nuts. Hurl into the food processor with the karengo and blitz until blended. Add your maple syrup, mix thoroughly, remove and press into a greased baking pan. Bake for twenty minutes at 150 degrees celsius (preheat your oven).
Thirty minutes later (!), I sprint into the kitchen, remove the bars and after some judicious trimming of overly-brown bits, voila! A healthy wild weed-ish snack - very sweet and nutty, with just a hint of saltiness from the karengo. Nuts are a good source of protein, have a low GI and may even lower cholesterol. Karengo is unbelievably nutritious but is little known as a food source outside of the Maori community. The season for Karengo harvest in Hawke's Bay isn't too far away and I'll be doing a post on its gathering, as well as a recipe.
Fancy something a little more savoury? Try coriander pesto with karengo, courtesy of Maria Middlestead, NZ nutritionist.
A big thank you to Bron for letting me play:)


Anonymous said...

Very creative. I've never heard of karengo, I'll keep an eye out for it.

I've been trying to come up with something for the Wild Weeds theme.

I have an idea for experimental cooking project this afternoon. Hopefully it turns out!

Bron said...

Thanks Nigel! What a great entry! Sadly, I've never had karengo, the bars look and sound very moreish!!

Nigel Olsen said...

Kim, I've seen dried and powdered karengo in quite a few health food stores and my fav deli in Napier, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding it.

Bron, the bars are quite tasty - highly recommended, even if I do say so myself.