Vegetables are leafy, crunchy, luscious, colorful little presents the earth gives out to say it loves us. They're packed with the vitamins and nutrients we need to keep from perishing of all manner of dreadful pirate diseases like rickets, scurvy and beriberi.
The least we can do is prepare them as deliciously as possible. Here's our best advice for making the most of the season's bounty.
Nearly two weeks into the year, most people's shiny, new resolutions have lost their luster. It's easy to slide back into comfortable old habits, routines and ruts, but we're here to combat that with a little personal challenge.
In my list of food resolutions for 2013, I suggested a monthly "Food Adventure Day," experimenting with an in-season ingredient you've never used before. They won't all be winners, but chances are that you'll end the year with at least a few new fruits or vegetables in the rotation.
As I wandered through Fei Long market in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, last week, stocking up on my usual baby bok choy, lotus root and taro, it occurred to me that while I've eaten countless bowls of take-out Chinese broccoli, I'd never actually cooked it at home. Into the basket it went.
“I’m not going to eat the purslane,” my friend Amy announced as we collected our CSA shares. “I grew up weeding that ^%$#.”
My CSA often coughs up veggies and greens you don’t usually see in the supermarket, but until Amy foisted her purslane share on me, I hadn’t realized the haul would include actual weeds.
Amy, who comes from rural Colorado, says she used to spend hours each week as a kid hunting down purslane shoots and fighting their attempts to take over her family’s vegetable patch. The USDA classifies it as “invasive and noxious.” Google its official name, “portulaca oleracea,” and you’ll get a long list of advice on killing it; Google “purslane” and you get tips for cooking it.
Stacy Cowley is CNNMoney's tech editor. She's in a complicated relationship with her CSA and explores the odd vegetables that show up in her haul in CSI: CSA. This is the first installment
It’s CSA season. That means that like thousands of other community supported agriculture subscribers, I’m locked in a five-month death battle with my fridge’s veggie drawer.
It’s week three of my CSA, and right now, the fridge is winning. I’ve got the inevitable kohlrabi lurking in the crisper, plotting a coup with the half-dozen turnips I’ve had lingering in there since April. The leafy greens are forming factions. I’ve been adding “spring salad mix” to every meal I possibly can, since it turns to sludge after a week, but that means neglecting the kale, arugula and mizuna. I’m pretty sure they’re spawning. Every time I open the drawer, the mizuna supply has tripled.
It’s not all grim, of course. I actually love CSA season and look forward to our first mid-June delivery the way six-year-old me anticipated Christmas morning: Finally, after months and months of waiting, the goodies arrive!
5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
(Left to right: Christophe Hille is the Chief Operating Officer, Hadley Schmitt is the Executive Chef, and Chris Ronis is the Managing Partner of Northern Spy Food Co. in New York, New York.)
There’s much high-minded talk in the food world about eating “mostly plants” (per Mr. Michael Pollan’s counsel), but judging from the slick of animal grease on our collective food biz lips, we’re deep in the throes of a meat moment. Meatballs, meatopias, and meat weeks; the cottage industry of top-ten burger lists (as a college professor once said to me in a different context, “I think we’ve taken enough rides on that pony”); and around every corner, another young cook with tattoos of cleavers, solemnly cutting up a pig (note to the non-cook reader: it’s not that hard.)
Our mid-winter redemption for editorial and gustatory carno-chauvinism lies in greenery. Dark, sulfurous, bitter greens, to excise the sins of the flesh and remind ourselves that while any shoemaker with salt, a Boston butt and an oven can make a passable pulled pork sandwich, it is through vegetables that cooks show intelligence and intuition.
To wit: five different ways to eat your greens this winter (not necessarily vegetarian, mind you). The methods are adapted from things currently or recently on our menu at Northern Spy, which in no way means that they’re inviolable. Mess ‘em up. Put the kale where the chard goes and vice versa.
Five Ways to Cook and Eat Dark Greens in Winter
Now's the time to heap your plate full of beets, broccoli, apples, chestnuts, kale, potatoes, pumpkin, winter squash, cabbage, citrus and artichokes while they're in peak season. Why? It's just more delicious that way.
Not only can at-home growers skip this risk - you'll also save money, enjoy a nearly endless variety of organic and heirloom options and have fresh salads at their fingertips all year around - even without an outdoor garden.
On the first day of 2011, our Facebook and Twitter feeds were glutted with friends' New Year's pledges to graze through hectares of leafy greens, ferry home wheelbarrows of winter roots and bunk down with Brussels sprouts and broccoli.
Celebrity chef and Meatless Monday booster Mario Batali publicly resolved to make and eat dinner with his kids, and "master more vegetarian dishes, like simple bruschetta, that are fun to cook as a team." By January 3rd, the Wall Street Journal aided George Ball, chairman of the W. Atlee Burpee Co. in dubbing it yea and verily to be the Year of the Vegetable.
Yet within days of the work week commencing (or the Champagne finally wearing off) that fervor wilted, giving way to an apologetic trickle of, "Yeah...I give up. Vegetables are too much work." "Too...cold...for...farmers...market..." "zOMG the organic stuff is sooooo expensive!" and "#resolutionfail Back to Lean Cuisine. I don't know what to DO with vegetables."