Old Man Saltbush is a familiar sight over large areas of the dry inland of Australia. It is a sprawling grey-blue shrub, up to 3 metres high and sometimes spreading to 5 metres wide. It is a long living plant, growing strongly after periods of summer rain, producing long tassels of flowering seed heads. In old times indigenous Australians mostly collected the minute Saltbush seeds to grind and roast for damper.
A special selection of Old Man Saltbush has been developed by horticulturist Mike Quarmby for the food industry. Mike was involved in providing millions of saltbush seedlings to the re-vegetation and pastoral industry in order to rehabilitate degraded land. He soon realized that overgrazing had removed the best types of saltbush from rangelands, and only the bitter leafed plants were left. Mike undertook a lengthy journey to find natural stands of Saltbush that had been protected from overgrazing.
Mike established selection trial plots, with the end result being a much improved saltbush form, which is quite different in flavour to the hard grown wild plant. When grown in hot house conditions, it provides a large leafed vegetable, with a natural range of mineral salts, antioxidants, calcium and 27% crude protein.
The large fresh or blanched Saltbush leaves can be used as a wrap around meat or fish, in salads or as a leafy bed for grilled meat or vegetables. The dried Saltbush flakes are a wonderful addition to bread, grills, pasta and as a pot herb.
Saltbush dried and ground can be purchased at Taste Australia Bush Food Shop.
Saltbush & Native Basil Salsa
3 Vine ripened tomatoes (diced)
2 Lebanese Cucumbers (diced)
1 small red onion (diced)
3 sprigs continental parsley (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon Saltbush
1 teaspoon Native Basil
Salt to taste
Place all ingredients into a bowl and add Saltbush and Native Basil. Combine and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavours to develop.
1 kg red onions (peeled and sliced)
3 tablespoons oil
160gm fresh ricotta
50gm grated pecorino or parmesan
4 eggs (whisked)
1 desertspoon Saltbush
1/2 dessertspoon Native Sage
Place oil in saucepan and gradually cook all the onion until soft. Then set aside and add Saltbush,. Native Sage and Pepperberry. Allow to cool before adding the ricotta, pecorino, eggs (keep a little aside to brush over pastry). Combine well.
Grease and line a pastry dish with puff pastry. Add the onion mix. Place puff pastry on top and brush with egg mixture.
Bake 200C for 20 minutes until golden.
Gluten Free Kangaroo Meatloaf
500gm Kangaroo Mince
1 diced onion
3 tbsp Kutjera (Bush Tomato) Sauce
1 dspn Native Thyme
1 dspn Saltbush
3 tbsp rice crumbs or dried Gluten free bread crumbs
1 tbsp extra rice crumbs or dried Gluten free bread crumbs
Mix first seven ingredients together.
Roll into a loaf shape.
Roll in the 1 tbsp (more if you would prefer) rice or bread crumbs until coated.
Wrap in alfoil.
Cook for 180C for 90 minutes.
Then fold back the alfoil and allow to brown for 30 minutes.