This is a page that will be dedicated to the produce we grow, the animals we raise, and how to use them to their fullest potential. Please be patient as we are working on this page in between farm chores! Thank you friends of Rainshadow Organics!
Arugula is a type of leaf vegetable, and although often mistaken for a sort of lettuce, is in fact an herb, being a member of the mustard family. Arugula is a wonderful herb enjoyed raw in salads. It has a very distinct peppery and rhubarb flavor. It works well in warm salads too.
Arugula is especially used in salads, but also cooked as a vegetable with pasta or dry meat. In Italy, its use for pizzas is also common; in this case it is added only after baking. It is sometimes used as an ingredient in pesto, either in addition to basil or as a (non-traditional) substitute. It is rich in vitamin C and iron.
Basil (meaning “king” in Greek) is truly the king of fresh herbs. Basil is available in many flavors including cinnamon, lemon, and the beautiful, deep-purple, opal basil.
Basil has a hint of licorice or anise that is the perfect companion with tomatoes. Along with adding to your favorite dishes, enjoy basil leaves fresh in salads too! Basil is the main ingredient in pesto. Opal Basil, also known as purple-leaf basil, is a variety of the more usual green basil. This variety has dark, purple-red leaves, stems and flowers.
Black Turtle Beans are an old heirloom variety first introduced in the late 1700’s, and has beautiful, jet black seeds. The hardy bush plants are disease and heat resistant, and are wonderful in soup!
The black turtle bean is a small, black, oval shaped bean. They turn a dark brown color when cooked. This is a common bean in South and Central American and is also popular in China where it is fermented for many uses. When cooked with other beans, the color from the black turtle runs through the other beans giving the whole pot a dark color. Black turtle beans tend to break up when cooked. You can lessen this by not pre-soaking them.
High in iron, the black turtle bean has an earthy, sweet flavor with a hint of mushrooms. They cook up in 1 to 1-1/2 hours, expanding three times their dry size and are often served in thick soups with rice. This bean is a basic staple for many Mexican, Caribbean and Latin American soups and side dishes.
This bean is 6-8″ long with a soft, green outer shell. The entire bean can be eaten if harvested when the bean is only 2-3″ long. Most favas should be shelled prior to eating. Raw or cooked, the fava has a pungent palatableness. Good source of vitamins A and C and also potassium. Quite sophisticated for a bean per se and considered a culinary luxury by its true fans and chefs, five to seven fava beans are encased in a large green pod that is definitely inedible. Even though the pod is smooth skinned and soft, it is tough and must be peeled away and discarded.
Low in calories, one cup contains about 80 calories. High in fiber, protein and iron, fava beans are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium plus provide modest amounts of the B vitamins. Eating five daily servings of vegetables and fruits lowers the chances of cancer. A recent study found that eating nine or ten daily servings of vegetables and fruits, combined with three servings of low-fat dairy products, were effective in lowering blood pressure.
Loved in China, fava beans appear dried, fresh or fried and salted on the Iberian peninsula. India and the eastern coastal Chinese region near Shanghai cook, skin, and serve fava beans in a brown-sauce dressing or in oil. Chinese cuisine prefers them steamed and served cold as an appetizer in a sesame oil dressing. Parts of Asia love them as a snack by salting, dry-roasting or crisp-frying them. In Sichuan, fava beans are made into a popular pungent seasoning.
The fabulous fava should be savored all by itself or with limited, and only the finest, ingredients. Gently stew in cream, butter, or oil; season with savory, sage or thyme to taste. Pair with mildly smoked meats and sauteed veal. Seafood especially adores this flavorful bean. Pan juices of roasted pork, chicken or veal make a tasty hot bath; spoon juices and beans over meat just before serving. Add this bean’s goodness to salads and stir-fries. Use as a flavorful accent for rice or pasta dishes. Puree; add to vegetable dips. To prepare, remove skin from beans. To shell, cut off tips from pods; press open seams. Pull out beans; remove little stems as necessary. Drop beans into boiling salted water; boil only thirty seconds. If cooked longer than one minute, skinned beans may get mushy. Drain; chill in ice water. Slit skin of cooled beans with fingernail or small paring knife; slip out beans carefully to prevent damage. Use as desired. To store, spread beans in a wide dish; keep only a few days as they are perishable. Freeze shelled, blanched or skinned beans. Fava beans may be sprouted; use sprouts as a vegetable.
A very ancient “bean”, this age-old vegetable actually dates back to the European Iron Age. The word “faba” means bean and was named after a noble Roman family, Fabii. An important ingredient in Chinese cuisine for nearly five thousand years, the French love favas so much that fava bean season is celebrated as a very special occasion in southern France. Introduced to America in 1602, American cooks for some reason haven’t really bonded to this edible morsel so favas continue to be a specialty item. In the United States, mainly the southern states enjoy its culinary virtues. Old English cookbooks refer to it as “the common bean” and most English-speaking countries call it “broad bean”. The fava bean is botanically known as Vicia faba minor, rightfully a vetch, and is not a true bean as beans, such as snap, black, pintos, limas, wax and cranberry, are of the Phasaeolus species. A vetch is any of the twining or climbing plants of the genus Vicia. Other names for the fava include English bean, Windsor bean, tick bean, bell bean and horse bean.
Wax beans and stringless green beans are entirely edible, these beans can be eaten raw, steamed, or used in soups and stews. The purple bean will lose most of its color when cooked, the yellow will not.
Sometimes called “butter beans” because of their starchy yet buttery texture, lima beans have a delicate flavor that complements a wide variety of dishes. Although fresh lima beans are often difficult to find, they are worth looking for in the summer and fall when they are in season.
The pod of the lima bean is flat, oblong and slightly curved, averaging about three inches in length. Within the pod are the two to four flat kidney-shaped seeds that we call lima beans. The seeds are generally cream or green in color, although certain varieties feature colors such as white, red, purple, brown or black.
Lima beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other legumes. In addition to lowering cholesterol, lima beans’ high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When combined with whole grains such as rice, lima beans provide virtually fat-free high quality protein. You may already be familiar with beans’ fiber and protein, but this is far from all lima beans have to offer.
To cook lima beans, place them in a pot and add three to four cups of fresh water or broth for each cup of dried beans. The liquid should be about one to two inches above the top of the beans. Bring the beans to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, partially covering the pot. Lima beans generally take about one and one-half hours to become tender when cooking this way. Lima beans may produce a lot of foam during cooking. Simply skim any foam off during the first half hour or so of the simmering process. Because of the foam limas often produce, it is recommended to avoid cooking them in a pressure cooker.
Do not add any seasonings that are salty or acidic until after the beans have been cooked since adding them earlier will make the beans tough and greatly increase the cooking time. While uncooked lima beans contain compounds that can inhibit a digestive enzyme and cause red blood cells to clump together, soaking and cooking the beans renders these compounds harmless. Therefore, it is important to always eat soaked and cooked beans and not to use them uncooked by, for example, grinding dried beans into flour.
Although lima beans have been cultivated in Peru for more than 7,000 years, historians are unsure whether they originated there or in Guatemala. Soon after Columbus’ discovery of America, Spanish explorers noticed different varieties of lima beans growing throughout the South America, Central America and the Caribbean. They introduced them to Europe and Asia, while the Portuguese explorers introduced lima beans into Africa. Since lima beans can withstand humid tropical weather better than most beans, they have become an important crop in areas of Africa and Asia. Lima beans were introduced into the United States in the 19th century with the majority of domestic commercial production centered in California.
We raise Detroit Dark Red Beets, Golden Beets, Chioggia Beets, Bull’s Blood Beets, and Early Tall Top Beets.
As the baby roots are very young and tender, they don’t require peeling. The red beet, in certain applications, may bleed, so be aware. Steam, saute, bake, grill or roast until tender. Season to taste and enjoy. The beet tops or “greens” are also edible. Contains vitamins A and C.
Bull’s Blood Beets are an Heirloom Beet with a nice earthy sweet flavor. The leaves are a deep purple color, as is the beet itself; deep red with concentric circles. This globe-shaped beetroot was listed as a vegetable in England in the mid 1800s. It is probably the only decorative-leafed Victorian beetroot variety still being cultivated. Traditionally grown as an ornamental in gardens, but is delicious to eat. Its dark crimson leaves can appear almost black in some light, making a dramatic contrast to most other foliage. The leaves are broader than other beetroot varieties and have a particularly sweet taste when cooked. The medium-sized spherical roots are also dark red, with visible rings when cut. This lovely root is a favorite among beet connoisseurs because it provides a consistently rich and sweet flavor.
Goose berries (gooseberries) look like small, long green grapes covered with stripes. These light green, gold, or red berries are quite tart. They may have gotten their name because they go well with fatty meats like goose.
Green cabbage has tightly wrapped pale green, thick and pliable leaves. Round, solid and almost white in the center, this vegetable is heavy for its size.
Cabbage can add flavor to salads, casseroles, soups and stews. The sturdy leaves are perfect for making cabbage rolls. Cut into wedges; steam, bake, boil, braise or microwave until tender. Make traditional coleslaw. Soak shredded cabbage in ice water for crisper coleslaw. Dry well to remove moisture. Cabbage pairs well with sea scallops, monkfish, corned beef and pasta. To store, refrigerate in a plastic bag.
A member of the Brassica family, green cabbage is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe. In the United States, more than 30 states are commercial producers of green cabbage including California, New York, Texas, Florida and Georgia. Some supplies are imported from Mexico and Canada. Cabbage is also a popular vegetable in Russia, Ireland, Austria and Poland.
Napa or Chinese Cabbage (Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis): The two Chinese cabbages most common here: napa (nothing to do with the California valley), which is barrel-shaped, and michichili, more elongated. Both are mild and crunchy. Use them, thinly sliced and quickly cooked, as a bed for whole steamed fish or barbecued duck; simmer them in soup; or mix with meat as a filling for Chinese dumplings.
Oval-shaped and delicate, Savoy cabbage produces wrinkled crisp leaves. The color ranges from light green, gray-green, bluish-green and may show a reddish tint. Mellow-flavored, its taste is mild and sweet.
Savoy cabbage is fat-free, cholesterol-free, high in vitamin C and contains some protein, iron and calcium. Low in calories, one-half medium head has about 25 calories.
Raw or cooked Savoy cabbage is considered the most versatile of the cabbages. It can be added to casseroles, soups, stews, salads, stuffed and baked. It goes well with red wine, sage, thyme, caraway, dill fennel, horseradish, apples, onions, chestnuts, juniper berries, and sour cream. To store, place unwashed cabbage in a plastic bag; refrigerate in crisper drawer. For best texture and flavor, do not store longer than three or four days.
Alsace, the French region located along the Rhine border, is known for its production of cabbage. Even though France is not known as a cabbage-eating country as is Germany, Alsace has been part of Germany as a result of annexations and wars over the centuries at various times. Driving through Alsace in early September, endless fields of cabbages will be seen. With not a machine in sight, farmers will be hoisting cabbages by the hundreds over their shoulders into open wooden wagons just as their ancestors did. The signature dish of Alsace is a plate of “choucroute garnie” which means “garnished sauerkraut”.
Cabbage is one of the oldest vegetable plants and is native to Asia and the Mediterranean. The word “cabbage” is an Anglicized form of the French word caboche that means “head”. The Celts of central and western Europe are credited with introducing cabbage as a food and were apparently influential for this vegetable’s Latin name, Brassica, derived from the Celtic word “bresic” meaning “cabbage”. In 1536 in Europe, the true identity of hard-heading cabbage was recorded. At that time there was also a loose-heading cabbage form called romanos that was later named chou d’Italie and chou de Savoys for the Italian province. This “Savoy cabbage” was favored for its superior qualities and was grown in England in the 1500s. Still a European favorite, the French and Belgians prefer Savoy cabbage over all.
Cauliflower is a member of the cabbage family or colecrops. It is a vegetable that consists of undeveloped white florets attached to a single stem that form a compact, cabbage-like head, called a curd. Cauliflower is closely related to broccoli but has a denser, more compact head, and it is most often white. It has a creamy, sweet, slightly nutty flavor and even though the florets are the most common part of the cauliflower that is eaten, the stem and leaves are also edible.
Purple Cauliflower is wild and is actually better for us. The color is caused by anthocyanins (like those found in red cabbage and red wine) that is an antioxidant. It is beautiful eaten raw but can also be gently steamed. Use lemon juice or vinegar in the water to set the color. If you cook it too much it will turn green. It is more mild than white and needs less time to cook. It stays purple when cooked!
An orange colored cauliflower that is a variety that became available in the fall of 2003. It is very similar to regular white cauliflower in taste and appearance except it is bright orange in color. The first variety of orange cauliflower, which was smaller and not as flavorful, was discovered in Canada in 1970 but it took decades of crossbreeding to finally develop the variety that is now available. Because of its high content of beta-carotene, orange cauliflower’s vitamin A content is approximately 25 times higher than white cauliflower. Its color and nutritional value are two characteristics that make this a popular vegetable choice.
A vegetable that is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. Its appearance is the same as cauliflower except it is light, bright green in color. It has a slightly sweeter taste than regular cauliflower when eaten raw and when cooked, its taste is similar to broccoli. It can be prepared, cooked, and served in the same way you would regular cauliflower.
The leaf, stalk and florets can be eaten raw or cooked. Raw, it is eaten on its own accompanied by a dip or cut up and added to salads. When cooked, it can be eaten as a side dish, alone or topped with a sauce, such as au gratin, hollandaise, or Mornay. It is also often added to other dishes, such as stir fries, pasta, quiches, omelets, soups, and stews. Prepare Cauliflower the same way you prepare Broccoli as they are pretty much interchangeable, even in recipes. Since they are mild in flavor, they can be spiced up as in an Indian Curry or Curried Carrot and Cauliflower Soup or Curried Indian Potato and Cauliflower. Make mock mashed potatoes, or pureed cauliflower.
Although related to the celery often seen in our produce department this version of celery is grown for its root. The stalks can be added to soups and stews if a strong celery flavor is desired. The root may be peeled and used in salads (marinated, raw), soups and stuffings. Celery root can be made in to an unforgettable cream of celery soup. Celery root paired with potatoes in soup or au gratin is superb. A good source of potassium.
Chard, along with kale, mustard greens and collard greens, is one of several leafy green vegetables often referred to as “greens”. Similar to spinach and beets with a flavor that is bitter, pungent and slightly salty, chard is truly one of the vegetable valedictorians with its exceptionally impressive list of health promoting nutrients.
Chard has shiny green ribbed leaves, with stems that range from white to yellow and red depending on the cultivar. The leaves are generally treated in the same way as spinach and the stems like asparagus. Fresh young chard can also be used raw in salads.
Cultivars of chard include green forms, such as ‘Lucullus’ and ‘Fordhook Giant’, as well as red-ribbed forms such as ‘Ruby Chard’, ‘Rainbow Chard’, and ‘Rhubarb Chard’.
It is commonly known as Swiss Chard, even though it isn’t Swiss. It’s actually native to the Mediterranean area, but is now cultivated worldwide. The ancient Greeks and Romans prized chard for its medicinal properties. It’s an excellent source of iron, vitamin C and magnesium (essential for the absorption of calcium).
Chives delicate onion flavor can be enjoyed in many dishes. Adds flavor and color to salads, vegetables, omelets and hor d’oeuvres. The chive flower or blossom is an attractive and flavorful addition to salads.
Cilantro is the characteristic flavor in Latin cooking as well as many Oriental favorites. Use the entire leaf and stem for this very clean and distinct flavor. Use fresh on tacos, in salsas, stir-fry, relishes, and chutney.
Gherkins are traditionally pickling cucumbers and come in all shapes and sizes. Some varieties are very familiar: baby dills and French cornichons; others are more nostalgic like the Kirby cucumber.
Most Gherkins are petite cucumbers about 2 inches long – sometimes allowed to grow up to 4 inches in length. American pickling cucumbers have knobby warts or spines and skin colors that ranges from white to deep, dark green. Pickling cucumbers are characterized by a mild flavor, a solid crunch, evenly distributed juiciness and a lingering sweetness with little bitter after taste.
West Indian Gherkins – grow from one to three inches with prominent spines and are filled with tiny seeds. White Gherkins – grow from one to three inches and are pale green to white in color with a bumpy, warty skin and fine internal seeds. Watermelon Gherkins – are the tiniest of cucumbers and grow up to one inch. They have a watermelon like outer skin and a mild, pale interior.
Lemon Cucumbers are an heirloom cucumber variety dating back to 1894. They are pale to bright yellow, shaped like lemons. When they are pale yellow they can be eaten skin on. As they mature and become a brighter shade of yellow and the skin must be peeled off.
This versatile cucumber is sweet and flavorful, and doesn’t have much of the chemical that makes other cucumbers bitter and hard to digest. This sweet flavored variety is ideal to use in salads or relishes. Though it’s often served raw, it’s also a good pickling cucumber.
Lemon Cucumbers are a beautiful American Heirloom, becoming more and more appreciated even though they take longer to produce than other varieties. They have a very short season perhaps only a month. Suhyo Cucumbers are long and thin with a mild flavor. The skin is edible, if desired, but is most often peeled before use. Enjoy sliced in salads, soups (cold and hot) and stir fry.
Eggplant is considered a fruit, but botanically it’s actually a berry. Related to the potato and tomato, it’s a member of the enigmatic nightshade family, and has a slightly bitter flavor, a glossy skin, and a soft, cream-colored, somewhat spongy texture.
Italian eggplant is a longer, thinner shaped vegetable than the large variety. It has a shiny, purple-black skin with delicate and tender flesh and a green cap. When purchasing, select Italian eggplant that are firm to the touch with no wrinkles.
Italian eggplant is sometimes referred to as “Baby” eggplant, because it is smaller than standard eggplant. This however is a misnomer as there are “Baby” eggplants which are more similar in shape to the standard eggplant and are generally much smaller than even the Italian eggplant.
Fennel yields both a herb and a spice. All plant parts are edible: roots, stalks and leaves, with the spice coming from the dried seeds. Fennel’s flavor is a sweet anise or licorice. The large, white bulb may be sliced and steamed, sauteed, baked or used fresh in salads. The dill-like leaves may be used to top soups, omelettes, stews or used as a garnish. A good breath neutralizer too.
As an herb, fennel leaves are used in French and Italian cuisine’s in sauces for fish and in mayonnaise. In Italy fennel is also used to season pork roasts and spicy sausages, especially the Florentine salami finocchiona. It is traditionally considered one of the best herbs for fish dishes. The English use fennel seeds in almost all fish dishes, especially as a court bouillon for poaching fish and seafood. It is used to flavour breads, cakes and confectionery. It is an ingredient of Chinese Five Spices and of some curry powders. Several liquors are flavoured with fennel, including fennouillette, akvavit, gin and was used in distilling absinthe.
A native to the Mediterranean, Fennel is an ancient and common plant known to the ancient Greeks and spread throughout Europe by Imperial Rome. It is also grown in India, the Orient, Australia, South America and has become naturalized in the US. It has been called the ‘meeting’ seed by the Puritans who would chew it during their long church services. The name derives from the Latin foeniculum, meaning ‘little hay’.
BOK CHOY (Brassica rapa ssp. chinensis): Also known as pak choi or spoon cabbage. In most common types—white-stemmed, green-stemmed, and “soup spoon”—both leaves and stems are edible. Likewise the ever-more-common baby bok choy. One of the most delicately flavored Asian greens, bok choy is good for stir-frying (in oil, with garlic and soy sauce), braising, or simmering in soups.
TATSOI (Brassica rapa var. rosularius or atrovirens): A ground-hugging member of the bok choy family, also known as rosette bok choy for its conformation: The round, thick, very dark green leaves grow in tight, concentric circles like rose petals. With its slightly bitter flavor, tatsoi is excellent raw (when young) in salads, and adds spark to Asian-style soups when tossed in at the last minute.
Collard greens are a staple vegetable of southern U.S. cuisine and soul food. They are often prepared with other similar green leaf vegetables, such as kale, turnip greens, spinach, and mustard greens in “mixed greens”. They are generally eaten year-round in the South. Typical seasonings when cooking collards can consist of smoked and salted meats (ham hocks, pork neckbones, fatback or other fatty meat), diced onions, vinegar, salt, and pepper (black, white, or crushed red). Traditionally, collards are eaten on New Year’s Day, along with black-eyed peas or field peas and cornbread, to ensure wealth in the coming year, as the leaves resemble folding money.
MIZUNA (Brassica rapa ssp. nipposinica var. laciniata): Both the Japanese name, mizuna, and the Mandarin Chinese name, shui cai, mean “water vegetable” (the stalks are very juicy). Used frequently in Japanese cooking. The dark green, feathery leaves are peppery. Baby leaves are often used in field green mixtures; mature ones are excellent tossed with sautéed chicken or roasted root vegetables.
GREEN MUSTARD (Brassica juncea): Also called Chinese mustard greens and leaf mustard, this is among the most pungent of Asian greens. There are numerous sub-varieties, with leaves taking various shapes. Steamed for five minutes or so and dressed with a little oil, it makes a perfect side dish. Its flavor and texture work well with oyster sauce and with the richness of pork. It is also good pickled.
RED MUSTARD (Brassica juncea): More purple than red in color, this is one of the newer mustard varieties. Its powerful flavor, reminiscent of wasabi, fades if it’s overcooked. Used more in Japanese and Korean cooking than in the Chinese kitchen. In the U.S., leaves can be served raw as a decorative, edible accompaniment to sushi, or added to soups just before serving (to preserve the leaf’s character).
Ground cherries belong to the same family as the tomato. These small fruits are 1/2-3/4 inch in diameter and are encased in a loose, papery husk shaded with purple. When they are ripe, they resemble yellow cherry tomtatoes. They are smaller and sweeter than tomatillos and can be eaten raw or used in preserves.
“Dino Kale” is known for its winter-hardy resilience. Interestingly, once it survives a frost it is even more sweet and tender.
”Dino” Kale is a classic Italian variety. Its leaves are super-savoyed, long and narrow with a striking blue-grey color. It is one of the most robust and vigorous growers in the kale family.
Like its cousins in the cabbage family, kale is packed with health-promoting sulfur compounds, and it has been found to have the greatest antioxidant capacity of all fruits and vegetables.
Dinosaur kale is great simply pan cooked in olive oil with garlic and chile flakes. Zest and juice with lemon and coarse sea salt to finish and eat as a stand alone dish or utilize as a pair for pork dishes or add to a bean-based soup for complimentary flavor and texture.
Though Redbor grows well in spring and fall, as Kale is a cool-weather crop, when planted in winter, the temperature triggers Redbor’s young green leaves to turn red.
Redbor is a flowering curly kale that produces vibrant deep magenta red foliage. Its flavor is mild and sweet and texture, crisp. The plant is hardy, vigorous and cold-resistant.
Redbor kale is great for blanching or quickly pan-cooked in olive oil. Long simmering, however brings out an entirely different dimension in its flavor profile. The kale collapses in the pan and then swells as it cooks. This method will create a nourishing sweet “pot liquor” that will yield the need for bread to sop up its every juice. The kale will lose its bright attractive colors but the end result is comforting and delicious.
Russian Kale is yet another Brassica, but one whose leaves, rather than flower buds, are eaten. Russian Kale has a broad flat deckle-edged leaf which is softer, thinner and more tender than the leaf of Scots Kale. The flavor is a bit darker than that of Scots Kale, with stronger earth and hints of smoke. Russian Kale is generally available in two varieties, Red, as you’d expect, and Green. The green variety has some red (or purple) coloring.
Kale almost always must be cooked, and cooked rather a long time. The exception might be using a bit of very finely chiffonaded Russian Kale in a salad, with the proviso that some diners may end up uncomfortable. The other exception is in juicing, where Kale mixes well with, well, whatever you want to put into a juicer.
The basic rule for preparing Kale is ‘discard the stems’. Here again, there are two exceptions, first, if the stems are on the tender side, they may be finely chiffonaded along with the leaf they run through, and, second, stems might be useful in making a vegetable broth. One of the nice things about Kale in general is that the leaves themselves will make a nice broth in the cooking liquid, so that if you’re making a vegetable soup some Kale, helped by onion and garlic, will make the broth as you cook the soup. It’s difficult to overcook Kale, so it remains recognizable even after prolonged soup making.
You needn’t confine it to soups, it makes a nice vegetable side steamed, and mixes well with root vegetables and with other greens such as Dandelion. It’s a nice accompaniment with tomato and onion to beans (pinto, cannelini). Dried Russian Kale does a very good invegification of certain dried edible seaweeds.
Kohlrabi is a low, stout cultivar of the cabbage which has been selected for its swollen, nearly spherical, Sputnik-like shape. The name comes from the German kohl (cabbage) plus rabi (turnip), because the swollen stem resembles the latter. Kohlrabi has been created by artificial selection for lateral meristem growth, its origin in nature is the wild mustard plant.
The taste and texture of kohlrabi are similar to those of a broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder and sweeter, with a higher ratio of flesh to skin. The young stem in particular can be as crisp and juicy as an apple, although much less sweet. Except for the Gigante cultivar, spring-grown kohlrabi much over 5 cm in size tend to be woody, as do fall-grown kohlrabi much over perhaps 10 cm in size; the Gigante cultivar can achieve great size while remaining of good eating quality.
With flavors of turnip and radish predominant, kohlrabi is good peeled and served raw. Kohlrabi chunks may be sauteed or added to soup. The leaves too may be boiled and/or sauteed and seasoned to taste. High in vitamin C and potassium.
The edible portions of the leek are the white onion base and light green stalk. The onion-like layers form around a core. The tender core may be eaten; but, as the leek ages, the core becomes woody. Leek has a mild onion-like taste, although less bitter than scallion. The taste might be described as a mix of mild onion and cucumber. It has a fresh smell similar to scallion. In its raw state, the vegetable is crunchy and firm.
Lemon grass is widely used as a herb in Asian (particularly Hmong, Khmer, Thai, Lao, Philippines, Sri Lankan, Vietnamese) and Caribbean cooking. It has a citrous flavor and can be dried and powdered, or used fresh. The entire stalk is usable. The stalk itself is too hard to be eaten, except for the soft inner part. However, it can be finely sliced and added to recipes. It may also be bruised and added whole as this releases the aromatic oils from the juice sacs in the stalk. The main constituent of lemongrass oil is citral.
The tough outer leaves may be used to flavor soups, stews or to make tea. The greener, more tender inner leaves can be sliced very thin and stir-fried, sauteed or baked with your favorite meats and vegetable.
Butter lettuce, also known as Boston or Bibb (though both Butter and Bibb may be slightly different varieties of Boston) is a loose-heading lettuce with large soft leaves and a fairly mild but persistent, slightly sweet, slightly astringent flavor that makes it a perfect salad base for highlights ranging from fruit (persimmon, (kiwi, pear,apple…), citrus, avocado) to fish (or hard-boiled egg), to nuts to sharp flavors like water cress or an upland cress like Shahi (which is also very nice just now, and a perfect substitute or its cousin watercress).
Butter lettuce’s uses extend well beyond salads. The large soft outer leaves – sometimes comprising most of the head – can be used as the wrappers in ‘lettuce wraps’- toritillaless tacos or whatever. Though there’s probably a tendency to put cottage cheese or egg salad into such things, there’s no reason to stop there.
Butter lettuce is also nice in regular sandwiches. You can put quite a bit of it into a sandwich which is still manageable, so that the lettuce becomes an important part of the filling, but one which doesn’t overshadow whatever ‘main’ filling you use, even if it’s fairly subtle flavored. As with salads, though, you should consider the lettuce’s delicacy, and serve the sandwiches immediately after preparation.
Cooking with lettuce seems often to be overlooked. The large, soft leaves of Butter lettuce are very useful in soups, torn and added just before serving, either stirred into the pot or placed in the individual bowls with the soup added on top. The shredded leaves can also be added to stir fry just at the end of cooking.
Lettuce is the most popular of the leafy salad vegetables and includes many varieties. Lettuce gets its Latin name from the work for milk, lac, because of the white sap that oozes from cut stems. There are hundreds of types of lettuce and, because they peak at different times of year, we often have this year-round.
Small with more leaves than stalks, aromatic Chinese celery grows in a rosette stemming from the base of its roots. Fragrant, this ancient Asian vegetable-herb’s hollow thin crispy stems produce delicate wispy leaves. Rarely eaten raw, its flavor is pungent and a bit peppery. Cooking sweetens and tames its taste.
Pungent and peppery, Chinese celery tastes similar to regular celery, only much stronger – it is rarely eaten raw. Toss in stir-fries, fried rice dishes or vegetable sautés. Pair with ham, lamb, chicken, turkey or game entrées. To store, place in a perforated plastic bag; refrigerate. Do not wash until ready to use. To clean, rinse quickly under water. Gently shake off excess water; pat dry.
In days past, Chinese celery leaves were gathered for medicinal uses. Because of the volatile oil it produces, this biennial herb plant was also used as flavoring.
A member of the species Apium graveolens, Chinese celery is a close relative to common green celery. Native to Northern Asia where it grew wild, Ancient Greeks enjoyed Chinese celery as a potherb while the Romans used it in their decorative garlands. Also known as khuen chai, kan-tsai, kin-tsai, kun choy, qin cai and kinchay, today this plant thrives at high elevations in the tropics and in temperate regions. Growing ten to fifteen inches tall, Chinese celery prefers a cool climate and shade when grown in the warm summer season. Fairly cold hardy, the plants require fertile soil and adequate moisture. Slow starting but once established, Chinese celery is ready to cut in about six weeks. Popular in Asian cooking, Thai cuisine favors this type of celery in their flavorful dishes.
Its dark green, tear-drop shaped leaves are very mild and succulent. Works well with all other salad greens as it does not overshadow them. Pairs nicely with dandelion and frisee, in particular. Good source of vitamins A and C.
There are over 600 known types of mint. The two most common are spearmint and peppermint. A natural breath freshener, mint is used to flavor gum and many confections. That cool, clean flavor can be added to beverages, fruit cups, dips and works very well with lamb. Fresh mint is an attractive garnish for virtually any dessert.
PEARL ONION Available in the colors gold, red, and white; the small round onions are well suited for pickling, stews, soups, kabobs, braising, roasting, or deep frying. To peel, put in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Soak for two minutes and drain. Once cool, cut away root end and peel away skin. High in fiber.
Delicious and tender, spring onions offer a delicate but rich flavor that especially pleases the avid onion fan.
These freshest of the freshest onions flavor up a variety of foods. Savory casseroles and dishes love their tasty taste. Enhance dips, relishes, chutneys, sauces and salsa. Toss in stir-fries. To store, refrigerate in a plastic bag.
Oregano’s full, zesty flavor is a must in Greek, Italian and Mexican cooking. Use in tomato and pasta sauces, pizzas, salad dressings, soups, beans and eggplant – a more robust” flavor than its counterpart, marjoram.
Parsnips are root vegetables that resemble ivory-colored carrots. Parsnips have been cultivated in Europe since ancient times, but they became less important over the centuries as other sources of sweetness became available.
Very similar to the snow pea, however, the sugar snap has a rounded pod with larger peas within. The sugar snap is, in fact, sweeter than the snow pea or any other fresh pea with the exception of very young English peas. Sugar snaps are best cooked very lightly or enjoyed raw. Good source of vitamins C, K and fiber.
There are so many varieties of potato and they can be generally categorized. New potatoes are freshly dug potatoes that have not reached maturity and have never been kept in storage. They have thin skin and fine-textured flesh. Starchy or mealy potatoes, such as rusts, are high in starch. The potato cells in starchy potatoes separate easily upon cooking. When cooked, they have a glistening appearance and a dry, fluffy texture, making them well-suited for baking or mashing. They also have a low sugar content so that they will not brown excessively if fried. Waxy potatoes, like red-skinned, are low in starch. They are smooth, creamy and moist when cooked. The cells in theses potatoes have a greater tendency to adhere, helping them to hold their shape well. This quality makes them ideal for boiling and steaming.
A root vegetable related to the turnip and horseradish family, with a crisp texture and a mild to delicately sweet flavor. The French Breakfast radish has an elongated shape that can grow to approximately three inches in length, displaying a bright red outer skin, which turns white at the root base. There are two main categories of radishes, either the spring or winter radishes, based on the time when they are harvested. Spring radishes are harvested early in their growing season resulting in a smaller radish. The winter radishes are harvested later in their growth and result in a larger round or more elongated shaped vegetable. This radish is considered to be a spring radish, but may be available throughout the year. The French Breakfast is particularly mild, and thus the reason for its name. It is a radish that is generally served raw to be used as hors d’oeuvres or a complement to salads. When selecting, choose radishes that are firm, crisp, and without blemishes. Radishes grown and harvested when temperatures remain hot develop an increased bitterness. Store without the leafy tops and place in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic to keep fresh for several days. It is also known as a Flambo radish.
Black radishes belong to the Cruciferae family. A root vegetable related to the turnip and horseradish family, with a sooty dull black exterior that covers a white, crisp inner flesh providing a peppery hot flavor. The intensity of this radish can vary from mildly hot to very pungent and somewhat bitter, depending on the age and size, tasting somewhat like horseradish. The Black radish can be either round or elongated in shape. As a round radish, it can grow from two to six inches in diameter. There are two main categories of radishes, either the spring or winter radishes, based on the time when they are harvested. Spring radishes, which mature quickly, are harvested early in their growing season resulting in a smaller radish. The winter radishes, which grow slowly, are harvested later in their growth and result in a larger round or more elongated-shaped vegetable. Winter radishes tend to have a milder, more delicate peppery flavor, however the Black radish can be very strong and pungent. Black radish is not really nutritious but has many medicinal properties. It is rich in vitamin C which makes it an interesting ally during winter months. Vitamin C helps us fight infections and free radicals. Black radish also contains B vitamins and sulfur. Its high content of fiber increase peristaltic movements. In addition, it contains large amounts of water. Both water and fiber help our transit and people who suffer from constipation may benefit from this vegetable.
It contains a variety of chemicals that increase the flow of bile which play an important role in the digestion process. Radish help maintain a healthy gallbladder. It also has an antibacterial effect on our digestive flora.
Caution: People with gallbladder problem (stones, obstructions,…) should not eat too much of this vegetable as well as people with hepatic problems.
This radish may be cooked like a turnip, creamed and served as a side dish, sautéed and braised to be served as a vegetable dish, or added to stir fry dishes. The skin is generally removed prior to preparing. It can also be served raw to be used as hors d’oeuvres, as a complement to salads and sandwiches or diced for use in soups and stews. If the pungency is too strong, it can be reduced by salting and washing the radish to draw out the peppery flavor, by steaming the radish for 5 to 10 minutes, or by baking the radish with other vegetables. When selecting, choose radishes that are firm, crisp, and without blemishes. They can be boiled, sliced and added to soups or stews. For added flair, peel in a stripped pattern, then cook.
They are traced back to the Egyptians about 3500 BC. The Chinese served them 2700 years ago; the Japanese ate them 1000 years back. Scriptures show black radishes were part of the rigid, ancient Talmudic dietary laws. The Greeks honored radishes so highly, they reproduced them in pure gold and presented them to Apollo, in his temple at Delphi. Early Romans felt the radish was a good food to cure baldness. During the Middle Ages the English believed they cured pains in the joints, shingles and madness. In ancient times, Black Radish was used medicinally as a remedy for cough.
Although rutabaga is a classic cellar vegetable, it is best purchased fresh at your local farmers market while the root is still tender-firm, sweet and moist. The longer it is out of the ground, the drier the root gets and is likely to be tough to cut and too tough to eat, and its flavor decreases with age.
The “American Purple Top Yellow” rutabaga is a cool season Swedish variety of American origin, a long-time standard for home and market use. The rutabaga produces purple-topped, globular roots with pale yellow, fine-grained skin and flesh. Generally harvested when it is at least four inches in diameter, the rutabaga’s creamy, yellow flesh is crisp and peppery-sweet when raw and soft and sweet when cooked properly.
Like other root vegetables, rutabaga has a natural sweetness the is enhanced by cooking. Diced rutabaga and slowly saute with apples and onions until caramelized. Toss thinly sliced rutabaga with soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and garlic then serve fresh as a side dish. Boil diced rutabaga and toss with herbed vinaigrette and Israeli couscous for a side dish. Steam or boil diced rutabaga until soft, them mash with cooked carrots and flavor with minced lemongrass. Rutabaga will keep in cool, dark storage for months.
The International Rutabaga Curling Championship takes place annually at the Ithaca (Greece) Farmers’ Market on the last day of the market season.
The rutabaga evolved as a cross between wild cabbage and the turnip. Its name is derived from the Swedish word “rotabagge”, meaning “round root”. Rutabagas became a crop in America is early as 1806, and are primarily grown in the Northern states, as they are a cool season crop.
Sage’s long, narrow leaves have a distinctly fuzzy texture and a musty flavor redolent of eucalyptus, cedar, lemon, and mint. Sage is a widely used herb in the making of poultry stuffing and it works well with fatty meats like duck, goose, sausage and other charcuterie.
To store fresh sage leaves, simply wrap them in a damp paper towel, and place them in a plastic bag. Store them in the refrigerator, where they should keep fresh for several days.
This is one of the classic summer squashes, but in a petite variety and ready to garnish any plate as a special vegetable. Sauteed, steamed or roasted, this is the taste of summer with fresh herbs, olive oil and a little fleur de sel.
Winter squash have hard, thick skins. Store in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place for up to one month. Because this rind makes most squash difficult to peel, it’s easier to cook the unpeeled squash, and then scoop out the cooked flesh. To cook them, first remove fibers and seeds; then bake, steam, or boil the squash. When water is used in cooking, the quantity of water should be kept small to avoid losing flavor and nutrients. Acorn and butternut squash are frequently cut in half, baked, and served in the shell. Dress any cooked winter squash with butter and herbs, a cream sauce, cheese sauce, maple syrup and nuts, marinara sauce or stewed fruit. Squash pulp is also used for pies and may be prepared in casseroles, souffles, pancakes, and custards.
Elegant and excellent in flavor, wild strawberries are smaller and eloquently gourmet. Chefs love these little fruity gems for their unique appearance and great flavor. Succulent wild strawberries love to be in the tasty presence of ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, sorbet and gelato. Cheesecake and shortcake welcome its company, too. Excellent edible garnish for main entrée sandwiches. To store, refrigerate.
Tarragon has an unmistakable flavor of licorice. Use it sparingly as the flavor is intense. Use in the well-known bearnaise sauce. Tarragon pairs well with omelets, fish, chicken, mushrooms, salad dressing and flavored vinegars.
Fresh thyme works well in dishes that will simmer all day. Soups, stews, tomato sauces, meats, and stuffing all benefit from thyme’s clove flavor. Lemon thyme is superb with chicken and fish. Thyme is a must in cajun cuisine. Place freshly cut thyme in a plastic produce bag in the refrigerator, preferably not in the vegetable bin.
The tomatillo, Physalis ixocarpa, also known as: Husk Tomato, Miltomate and Mexican Green Tomato, is a two-celled rounded berry enclosed in the thin husk of it’s extended calyx. Native to Mexico, the tomatillo was used by the Aztecs. This perennial, often grown as an annual, is usually sprawling and in need of support. It can reach up to 3-4 feet tall and from 3-4 feet across. The green, yellow-green or purple fruit completely fill the lantern looking husk. The fruit, which grows 1-2 inches in diameter, is smooth and sticky under its husk.
Raw tomatillos have a zesty tart flavor that develop an herbal lemon flavor when cooked. The flesh is solid and seedy. Tomatillos are used in many Mexican recipes, raw or cooked: salsas, gazpacho, and guacamole often call for tomatillo as a prime ingredient. Its flavor is enhanced when baked, roasted or simmered. A good source of vitamin C.
A member of the cabbage family, turnips are similar in appearance to such root vegetables as rutabagas and swedes (originally Swedish turnips). Turnips were originally called “neeps,” from the Latin word for turnip, napus, which also gave rise to the French word navet. The prefix turn refers to their spherical shape.
Turnips have been around a long time: they were enjoyed by Greek epicures (who favored those from Thebes) and by Roman gourmets (their turnips had to be from Amitermes). In one Roman dish, turnips were presented in sixteen different colors, though the favorite, by far, was purple. In the Orient, tender strips of turnip make a quick and delicious stir-fry. But no discussion of turnips is complete without due homage to the man they called “Turnip” Townshend, who, in the early 1700s, introduced a bevy of unknown Dutch turnip varieties to England. Although his efforts had beneficial effects on the way people thought about turnips, they also (unfortunately for “Turnip”) changed the way people referred to the man who brought them. He had been known previously as “Lord” Townshend.