Vegetables

Ramps!

Produce reports that ramps are in season! We got our first bunches last weekend and currently have them in stock.

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 the diced bulbs and stems of approximately 15 ramps in butter or oil until tender then add chopped ramp leaves and saute until slightly wilted. Add four whisked eggs and scramble in your normal fashion. We’ve also added asparagus – steamed and chopped or just chopped and sauteed longer – at the same time as the ramp greens. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate spring.

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Lacinato Kale

Kale has more nutrients per calorie than almost any other food. And this leafy green vegetable grows even in winter when the frost makes it turn sweeter. The lacinato kale we have in produce right now makes a great addition to soups and pasta. The rib of lacinato kale is edible but if you just want leaves to wilt in a soup, the rib is easy to remove. Either use a knife to trace it or fold the leaves toward the center to make a crease and then just pull the rib out.

White Bean Soup with Ground Turkey and Kale

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 pinch red pepper flakes
4 cups chicken stock
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans
1 teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
1 bunch lacinato kale (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan.
2. Add the ground turkey meat and cook until it loses its pink. Transfer turkey to separate bowl and set aside.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the same pan, add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and red chili pepper flakes and saute for another minute.
5. Add the ground turkey, stock, beans, oregano, and bay leaf and simmer for 20 minutes.
6. Add the lacinato kale and simmer until it wilts.
7. Retrieve bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste and serve!

Thanks to Closet Cooking’s Spinach, White Bean and Turkey Sausage Soup Recipe for inspiration.

Greene GrapeLacinato Kale
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The Best Cherry Tomato I Ever Tasted

Farmdale Organics cherry tomato mix

Was eaten within seconds of being harvested by hand from my mother’s suburban garden in 1979. The second best was eaten earlier this week from a box of Cherry Tomato Mix we have in from Farmdale Organics of Leola, Pennsylvania that I shared with the kids. Sweet, not tart, full of rich, concentrated tomato flavor. Stopping back in the store to pick up a second box, I endured the chuckles from Provisions cashiers when my 4-year old used his “candy demand” voice to loudly screech “I want a tomato NOW, mama.” Tempted to respond “not until you’ve eaten your chocolate,” I gave in. So the story he’ll tell years from now is that the best cherry tomato he’s ever tasted was eaten seconds after it was rung up at his mother’s grocery store. Close enough.

Greene GrapeThe Best Cherry Tomato I Ever Tasted
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Avocado, Tomato & Red Onion Salad

You’ve been buying a lot of hass avocados – what are you making? Summer’s the time for guacamole but our favorite use for avocados is even simpler. As a teenager in France, we were taken in by an artist friend of a friend in his 80s who treated us to this simple salad preparation. It may be the first salad whose recipe we committed to memory. Serve alone or put over lettuce – it is even better if the flavors are given some time to marinate.

Avocado, Tomato & Red Onion Salad

2 hass avocados
2 tomatoes
1 red onion
olive oil
salt
pepper

Slice the avocados in half and remove the pit (an easy way to do this is to hack it with a knife until the knife sticks then slowly turn the knife, which will unscrew the pit). Slice the avocado halves into crescents, score the crescents to the skin with a knife then slice the sections off the skin. Dice tomatoes in rough dice approximately the same size as your avocados – they should be 3/4 inch cubes. Chop onion to fine dice and put in a bowl with avocados and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste and toss gently so the avocado and tomato are coated but not mashed

Greene GrapeAvocado, Tomato & Red Onion Salad
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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

Greene GrapeRhubarbarama
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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.

Greene GrapeIn Season: English Peas
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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).

Greene GrapeIn Season: Baby Artichokes
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