The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

June 19, 2013

Amanda Stone: Outcast veggies at farmers markets should be embraced

JOPLIN, Mo. — It's time to address the black sheep of the farmers market. I call them the "vegetable outcasts" -- veggies that are unpopular or overlooked because they're different.

Bok choy, kohlrabi, pea shoots, mustard greens and even those adorable tiny carrots are rarely sold out. It's such a shame. Let's step out of our comfort zones and try something unfamiliar this week.

I admit my guilt in ignoring the shiny bulbs of kohlrabi, with its stalks of leafy greens protruding. I'm sure my eyes glaze over as I pass them by repeatedly. No more. The folks running the farmers markets are onto us. Samples of sauteed kohlrabi were being served last week, and I was eager to give them a try. Delicious. I went home with several bulbs of kohlrabi, which I made into oven fries. Then I sauteed the leaves with a little bacon, just like any other green. I feel foolish for giving it the cold shoulder for so long.

Bok choy is another sad case. There's no need to be afraid of it. Bok choy is simply Chinese cabbage, another delicious cruciferous vegetable to add to our repertoires. The stalks and leaves are commonly used in Chinese recipes and can easily be added to stir fry and soup, or eaten raw in salads and sandwiches.

Mustard greens and pea shoots don't have to be intimidating. Mustard greens have a peppery taste and add a kick to salads. Or they can be cooked and treated just like collard greens or kale. Pea shoots are the leaves and tendrils of peas. They taste remarkably like fresh peas. Sugar snap peas and snow peas are sweet, easy to grow and they pop up early. The greens are just as good as the peas, giving you even more incentive to plant them. They don't like hot weather, so plant them in early spring or fall. Or buy a handful at the farmers market and toss them in a salad.

I can't understand why bunches of carrots are picked and sold as babies. They're so tiny; smaller than a pinky finger. Try them and you'll get it. They smell amazing and have a surprisingly full, sweet flavor. As a bonus, carrot tops are completely edible, so toss them in a soup or salad.

Give these unfamiliar vegetables a try with these recipes.


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