Vegetables

Gorgeous Greens

We’ve got beautiful red and lacinato kale, rainbow chard and collard greens (pictured) from Pennslyvania farms in the produce case this weekend.

When we think kale, we think caldo verde, the portugese soup with potatoes and sausage. But with the summer heat, you might prefer a kale and ricotta salad like the one below, adapted from the Manhattan restaurant, Lupa.

Ingredients

1 small bunch (about 1/2 pound) Lacinato kale
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1 tablespoon minced shallot
pinch salt
pinch black pepper
2 1/4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 oz coarsely grated ricotta salata (1/2 cup) – this is salted and pressed ricotta; it comes in wedges in the cheese section. You could substitute feta for a similar taste.

Directions

Working in batches, cut kale crosswise into very thin slices (or, just tear the leaves off the center rib into bite-sized pieces.)

Whisk together shallot, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined well.

Toss kale and ricotta salata in a large bowl with enough dressing to coat well, then season with salt and pepper.

Makes 2 generous or 4 small servings.

Recipe via eggsonsunday

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Colorful Cauliflower

Do not adjust your screen – these are true color variations of cauliflower. This weekend Sabrina’s added cheddar cauliflower, which is orange instead of white, to our produce case. Cauliflower contains nutrients that are said to fight cancer and the orange color of the cheddar cauliflower reminds us that cauliflower is a great source of vitamin C. Cheddar cauliflower is also high in beta carotene, a form of vitamin A that is good for your skin.

Roasting cauliflower caramelizes its sugars and brings out its natural sweetness. You can also steam cauliflower or cook it quickly in the microwave.

Roasted Cauliflower

3-4 cups cauliflower florets (cut large florets into quarters)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Wash cauliflower and cut each large floret into quarters. Add olive oil to florets and toss to gently coat all pieces. Spread onto baking sheet making sure the flat sides of the florets are down and they don’t touch eachother. Place pan into oven on a center rack and roast for 10 minutes. Turn pieces with a spatula or tongs. Roast for another 5 minutes or until they are slightly browned and crispy. Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Steamed Cauliflower

3 C cauliflower florets

Place a steamer basket in a medium saucepan. Add water to reach the bottom of the steamer. Cover pan and bring water to a boil. Remove lid and add cauliflower. Cover and continue to cook at medium-high for about three minutes. Check tenderness with fork; it should be crisp-tender. Remove from pan and serve immediately.

Microwaved Cauliflower

3 C cauliflower florets

Place cauliflower in a glass bowl and cover with a plate. Cook on high in microwave for 3 minutes. Check tenderness with fork; it should be crisp-tender. Remove from pan and serve immediately.

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Sunchokes

The sunchoke used to be called a jerusalem artichoke but apparently got a publicist and rebranded (money maybe better spent on a stylist). Looking like ginger but tasting like new potato (or raw water chestnut), they are making a guest appearance in produce. Though these were available through the winter, Sabrina says they’re particularly sweet in spring.

Iron-rich, these tubers provide an alternative to potatoes for diabetics – their carbs are stored as inulin, a diabetic-friendly sugar. Whether you choose to peel them or just scrub them well, prepare as you would new potatoes – saute, roast, bake, boil or steam. Sliced, they give a crunchy snap to salad or stir-fry.

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Rhubarbarama

It’s a cruel, cruel summer without rhubarb, that sour stalk that adds zip to tarts, jams and pies. Yesterday, we picked up the last 4 stalks in the store (more in today) anticipating that we’d have just enough to make a strawberry rhubarb pie. But it was not to be.

Rhubarb is easy to work with. Take off the leaves if any are attached (they’re poison), then chop. Some people peel them but we found our stalks to be fresh enough that the outer portion was just as tender as the inside. Because they’re crisp and chop easy, we had the kids help. That’s where the trouble started.

Kids tend to have a taste for the sour stuff and at some point one of our little mincing minions must have realized that if they were in the kitchen, what they were working with was likely edible. Due to shrinkage caused by sampling, we ended up with only a cup and a half of chopped rhubarb, not the 3 required for a pie. Rhubarb is technically a veggie, not a fruit. And we couldn’t really yell at them for eating their vegetables, could we?

So we did the next best thing with the remnants of our rhubarb – we boiled them with water and sugar and made a rhubarb simple syrup. With soda and fresh squeezed lime juice added for the kids (and a dash of lemon vodka added for us) and strawberry garnishes for all, we had the essence of a pie, if not the real thing.

Rhubarb Simple Syrup
Adapted from a recipe by Carrie Floyd, from the Culinate Kitchen collection

1½ cups rhubarb, roughly chopped
1 cup sugar
1½ cups water

Place rhubarb, sugar, and 1½ cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the syrup is bright pink. Remove from heat and cool. Strain syrup into a large jar. Reserve cooked and strained rhubarb for use as a compote over ice cream.

The simple syrup can be used in any number of cocktails. Easy non-alcoholic rhubarb soda:

cup of ice
1 oz rhubarb simple syrup
1 oz lime juice
3 oz soda water

Pour syrup, lime juice and soda water over ice. Garnish with slice of lime or strawberry.

For the adults we used the classic proportions of a margarita with lemon vodka instead of tequila to make a rhubarbarita:

1 1/4 oz Hangar One Buddha’s Hand Citron Vodka
1 1/2 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 oz rhubarb simple syrup

Combine in shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Serve up in a cocktail glass or over ice in a collins glass with a splash of soda water.

Some other cocktail ideas we found inspiring:

Rhubarb Cosmopolitan from Culinate Kitchen

Rhubarb Mojito from Brooklyn Farmhouse

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In Season: English Peas

This weekend we’ll have English peas for the first time this spring! We know a seven-year old who will be excited to eat them, sweet and green, right from the pod. Unlike sugar snap peas, English peas must be removed from the pod before eating. Discard the pods and cook the peas briefly by dropping them in boiling water only for the amount of time it takes to count to ten slowly and then drain and refrigerate and you’ll have a convenient way to brighten up a dish or meal. Tossed with butter, they make a great side dish. They can also be added to soups, salads, rice or pasta. Or toss with some cubed madrange ham and a little bit of mayonnaise (just enough to coat) and you’ve got a lovely side salad. We’ve even seen them used as a substitute for basil to make a fresh, springy pesto.

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In Season: Baby Artichokes

Sabrina reports that we’ve got baby artichokes in from California! While not actually immature artichokes (they are fully grown, just picked from further down the stalk), they are easier to cook than regular artichokes because they lack the tufty fuzz on the artichoke heart so that they can be eaten whole. To prepare, snap off lower petals until you reach the yellow core of the artichoke. Then cut the top off about a half an inch below the uppermost petals. Finally peel off the green petals until you are left with a yellow core. The prepared artichoke should look like this.

Baby artichokes are done when a toothpick or knife goes into the bottom of the artichoke easily. Steaming should take about 15-20 minutes. They can also be microwaved in a microwave-safe bowl filled with approximately an inch of water for 8-10 minutes. Or saute them in a pan with a little olive oil over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes and season to taste with garlic, salt and pepper. Artichokes made with any of these methods of preparation can be served with a simple sauce or french mayonnaise (mayonnaise with a little mustard added).

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In Season: Asparagus

Spring has sprung! If you need proof, look no further than our produce case where we just got in the first asparagus of the season from Long Island. They are so fresh and tender, you need only the simplest preparation. Roasted asparagus couldn’t be easier.

Roasted Asparagus

1 lb. Asparagus
1-2 tbsp. Olive oil
2 cloves garlic (minced)
Lemon
Salt
Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the hard ends off the asparagus and then place spears in row on baking sheet with sides. Drizzle olive oil over spears then roll spears so they get coated with olive oil. Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic over spears. Place baking sheet in oven for 7-10 minutes. Cooking time will vary based on thickness of the spears – asparagus is done when lightly browned and tender to the fork. Remove baking sheet from oven and add squeeze of lemon (or drizzle of balsamic vinegar) to spears before serving.

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In Season: Ramps, Fiddlehead Ferns and Spring Garlic

Produce reports that ramps are in season! We’ll also have fiddlehead ferns and spring garlic in the store this weekend.

Ramps are wild onions, sometimes called wild leeks. Their appearance in forests is a harbringer of spring in the countryside and their appearance in our produce case is the city equivalent. In the picture at left you can see that the bulbs are similar to those of scallions but ramps are distinguished by their large, flat broad leaves.

Both the bulbs and leaves of ramps are edible. The flavor of ramps is something in between onion and garlic with the leaves having lighter more gentle flavor than the bulbs. They can be used as a substitute in any recipe that calls for leek or scallion. A classic dish is scrambled eggs with ramps. Simply sauté diced ramps in butter or oil until tender then add eggs and scramble in your normal fashion. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate spring on a weekend morning.

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Green Eggs

We are looking for simple, easy recipes using fresh ingredients for the blog and are offering a $20 credit at Provisions if we use your recipe. Our first submission ended up being two posts. Neighbor Tanya gave us a great recipe for eggs and then mentioned in passing that they could be served with roasted apples and potatoes. So we got her recipe for that too! We try every recipe before we post so don’t worry about exact amounts or techniques.

If you’ve got kids, you did the “find something green to wear” thing this morning – these eggs make a great simple dinner to continue the green theme.

Green scrambled Eggs:

2 eggs
2 egg whites (we just used 4 eggs)
handful of baby spinach
large splash of milk
salt and pepper
tablespoon of cream cheese or goat cheese
optional: finely sliced chives (added with the spinach)

Stack spinach leaves and finely slice (chiffonade) with a sharp knife, then finely chop the spinach. Place all ingredients, except the cheese, in a non-stick pan. Cook on medium heat, regularly scraping the bottom with a heat proof rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Add the cheese, in little crumbled bits, when the eggs are cooked some, but still very runny then continue cooking until eggs are as firm as you like them.

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Marie-Claude’s Vinaigrette

The one night they were not out at jazz clubs in Manhattan, our french guests, Marie-Claude and Guy, prepared a delicious vinaigrette to serve with salad and their pork dijonnaise. While we hovered, trying to write down exact amounts used, Guy reminded us that making a vinaigrette is like jazz – there is room for improvisation.

In this recipe, the amounts are less important than the technique. The mustard and vinegar to olive oil ratio will depend on your taste. The secret here is to add the olive oil slowly while whisking so a proper emulsion is formed.

1 clove garlic, chopped fine

1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

6-8 tablespoons olive oil

salt

pepper

fresh parsley, chopped

Whisk together the vinegars, lemon juice, dijon mustard and garlic to create a base. Drizzle olive oil into the mixture slowly while simultaneously whisking to create an emulsion where the olive oil suspends itself in the vinegar. At the end, add parsley, salt and pepper to taste. You should end up with a creamy dressing.

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