Surprisingly Nutritious Vegetable Damper Recipe

This damper recipe includes green pawpaw (Carica papaya) and Warrigal greens (Tetragonia tetragonioides), which are currently abundant in my garden. Both are self-sown crops.

Served either as damper or used as a pizza base, this simple dish is surprisingly nutritious, especially if you use wholemeal flour. Please observe the kitchen chemistry notes.

You’ll need
3 cups flour:
Pinch of salt
;
120g butter or margarine;
1/2 cup of water;
2 heaped cups of Warrigal greens (leaves and tender shoot tips)
;
1 cup of peeled, diced green pawpaw
Baking tray;
Baking paper;
Saucepan;
Large mixing bowl;
Blender;

Method
Boil Warrigal greens in water for three minutes. Drain, pressing out excess water. Discard water*;

In a separate saucepan, boil pawpaw until soft. Drain;

Preheat oven to 200C; Cover baking tray with paper;

Mix flour and salt in the bowl, rub in butter, forming a crumb-like mixture (as if making scones);

Rough chop (don’t puree) pawpaw and Warrigal greens in blender, add to flour;

Knead, thoroughly blending ingredients, adding just enough water to form a ball of dough;

Roll into a flat circle, the size and thickness of a crusty pizza base, place on baking tray in the centre of the oven;

Bake for 40 minutes, by which time the damper should be lightly browned and crisped;



Serving. Stockmen prepared damper loaves to eat with beef or lamb (or sweetened with syrup), but you can use this as an alternative pizza base – simply cover with sliced tomato or tomato puree topped with grated cheese and dotted with olives.

Pawpaw notes. Healthy pawpaw fruit is nutritious, containing Vitamin A, carotenoids, Vitamins C, E and K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin B5, B6, folate, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc and fibre.

Warrigal greens notes. Healthy Warrigal greens contain masses of Vitamin K, also good amounts of Vitamin B2, B5, B6, C, E, calcium, iron, magnesium and fibre.

Wheat flour notes. White flour stores longer than wholemeal flour, especially in a warm climate. Both contain protein, iron, calcium and fibre, but wholemeal flour is richer in all compounds, especially bran (fibre). Wholemeal flour contains the germ and the endosperm, hence the higher protein content. Since wholemeal flour doesn’t develop gluten, it results in denser baking and the final product may require extra salt for a similar taste. I find using a half and half mixture of white and wholemeal flour is a practical, nutritious solution to expectations of flavour and texture.

* Kitchen chemistry concerning oxalates. Certain food plants, such as rhubarb, silverbeet, beetroot, Warrigal greens, English spinach, taro, cocoyam and star fruit contain oxalates. Consuming oxalates in certain fresh produce impairs the absorption of calcium and magnesium (eliminating part of the nutritional value of this meal), and may exacerbate joint pain due to gout or arthritis and, over time, may lead to kidney stones. Boiling removes oxalic acid, but the cooking water must be discarded.

* Don’t use aluminium, copper or iron saucepans for cooking these foods, since oxalic acid dissolves these metals which then contaminate food.



* Do use glass, stainless steel, anodized aluminium, enamel and non-stick pans.

Jerry Coleby-Williams
2nd October 2014