Chances are you have thought about, or have joined, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group or have visited a local Farmers Market. Both options can offer seasonally fresh and locally grown fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products, etc. Both options can also be intimidating as you come upon an unfamiliar vegetable. This happened to me a few years ago when a friend brought a couple of kohlrabi to my house. We were puzzled and curious on what to do and did not want to toss them out. After a quick on-line search we found a recipe and prepared them. They were delicious – even her kids gave a thumbs up. Now I grow them every year in my own vegetable garden.
So what is a kohlrabi? It is part of the cabbage family. It grows above ground in the shape of a white or purple bulb with stalks of greens growing from it. All of this can be eaten raw or cooked. When raw, the bulb has a crunch and a mild, sweet flavor that I love to use for a slaw. I usually cook the greens as part of a stir fry.
My other favorite “new” vegetable are garlic scapes. As the name implies, they are curly green stalks that come from garlic. They are cut off of the plant in late June so the nutrients go into the developing garlic bulb. Scapes have a mild garlic flavor and can be used in place of scallions, chives or garlic. I often use them in place of garlic when I make pesto. You can also grill them, steam them or use them in omelets, salad dressings and in dozens of other dishes.
A few tips on how to make the most out of that weird produce:
- Talk and ask questions. I find that the growers love to share their passion and even a few “secret” recipes for what they grow.
- Try one new vegetable at a time. Once you have decided if you like it or not, then move on to something else. You won’t like everything. For example, no matter how it is prepared, broccoli rabe just tastes bitter to my taste buds!
- There are a lot of books and articles out there for you to explore. Here two books that I really enjoyed and would highly recommend:
- Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (2007). She describes her families experience while only eating locally grown and in-season food for one year.
- Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson (2014). This journalist researched and explains why changes have been made to what we eat over the centuries. What you learn helps you make better decisions on selecting and preparing foods to maximize the nutrient content of your diet.
- Be curious. Your local library and the internet are great resources. You can find descriptions, nutritional information, recipes and even learn how to grow your new favorite vegetable.
- Going on vacation? Look ahead and plan a visit to a local Farmers Market during the trip.
- Click here to find a MA Farmers Market close to you.