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.
4 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut the kohlrabi into 1/4-inch thick slices, then cut each of the slices in half. Combine olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss kohlrabi slices in the olive oil mixture to coat. Spread kohlrabi in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until browned, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally in order to brown evenly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven to allow the Parmesan cheese to brown, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
Adapted from allrecipes.com
Szechuan noodles and bok choy
8 ounces rice sticks (rice flour noodles) or noodle of your choice
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
4 stalks bok choy, sliced
1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
8 asparagus spears, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 scallions, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces
4 ounces snow peas, trimmed
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons garlic-chili sauce
Prepare the rice sticks or noodles according to package directions. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bok choy, red pepper, and ginger and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the asparagus, scallions, snow peas, broth, soy sauce and garlic-chili sauce. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes or until the vegetables are tender-crisp. Add the rice sticks or noodles and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, or until the rice sticks have absorbed most of the liquid.
Adapted from recipes.rodale.com
Roasted carrot tacos
4 carrots (reserve the green carrot tops for the chimichurri)
1 to 2 parsnips
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 can black beans
Ingredients for the cilantro and carrot green chimichurri:
1 large handful cilantro
Carrot greens (from the 4 carrots)
1 serrano chili, stem and seeds removed
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the carrots and parsnips into 1/2-inch chunks. Toss the carrots and parsnips with the olive oil, cumin, lime zest, salt, pepper and half of the minced onions (reserve the rest of the onions for garnishing your tacos).
Spread the carrot mixture in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the carrots and parsnips are fork tender. Remove from oven and set aside until you are ready to assemble the tacos.
Meanwhile, heat the black beans in a small pan on the stove.
To assemble the chimichurri, pulse the garlic cloves and serrano chili together in a food processor. Add in the carrot greens, cilantro, salt, pepper and lime juice and process while pouring the olive oil in a steady stream. Blend until the mixture is well combined.
To assemble the tacos, fill each tortilla with a heaping spoonful of black beans and a heaping spoonful of the roasted veggies. Top with diced onions, cotija cheese and chimichurri. Garnish with lime juice and a dash of your favorite hot sauce.
Adapted from rosemarried.com
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