It’s that time of year again: Spring-a-ma-jig! Come out next week, May 2nd, and celebrate with us. We will have some fantastic guest vendors, community partners, a raffle to help support the market's operational costs, and our regular vendors will be on site selling local produce, meats, cheeses, kombucha, and bakery items. For more information check out our Facebook event.
Photo by Zachary Cross
I’ve covered Bok Choy - also known as Pac Choi and Chinese cabbage, among other names - in a previous post. That recipe is for roasted Pac Choi and I wanted something different. This recipe, braised with just the right amount of garlic, hits the spot.
This recipe comes from one of my old faithful cookbooks, Vegetables Every Day. In an unusual move, I made the recipe almost exactly as written. I did substitute a combination of roasted and regular sesame oil for the peanut oil.
I found that it took two heads that I purchased at market to make the full recipe. This made for a prettier dish, too, as I bought two varieties. One had white stalks and the other green. The contrast was retained even after cooking.
If you have only one medium stalk, no worries. This recipe is easily multiplied and divided - and you do not have to follow the proportions given exactly.
Once the bok choy is chopped up this recipe comes together quickly.
Happily, this recipe is well loved in our house. Sadly that means we ate it all before taking photos of the finished dish!
Adapted slightly from Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop
Serves 4 (I found this serves 6 fine as one of several sides)
1 large or 2 medium heads bok choy (2 pounds) (if you have baby bok choy cook them whole or roast them)
2 tablespoons roasted peanut oil (I used a combination of regular and roasted sesame oil)
6 medium garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock (I used vegetable stock made from scraps)
Printable recipe here
Find a variation here
Why garnish? Though garnishes do make a dish prettier, it’s not all about looks. There are many different garnishes from the market that you can add to your meals, not only for color and flavor, but added nutrition.
Even though it’s not the only benefit, improving the appearance of your food is an important benefit of a garnish. Have you ever accidentally made an all white or beige meal, for instance, cauliflower, potatoes, and chicken? That’s not very appealing, visually, but add chopped herbs or other garnishes and that meal is redeemed. An all white meal may encourage you to overeat as well, another motivation to add some color. What garnish you choose can be based on appearance. If you have kids, you may find that yellow, orange, or red garnishes (such as carrot curls or thin slices of pepper) appeal to them, while adults are going to be the ones to appreciate green garnishes, or other colors.
Photos by Zachary Cross
Garnishes will also add nutritional value to your meal. Microgreens, for instance, have been found to have “from 3 to 39.4 times the nutritional content of the plant’s mature counterparts.” Herbs pack a different, but significant nutritional punch in the form of polyphenols: compounds that are both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Vegetable ferments contain beneficial microbes that aid in digestion, as well as increased nutritional value of the vegetable they are made from.
Another reason to garnish is for the flavor. Some garnishes are pretty neutral, for instance parsley or some of the microgreens. Others add seasoning that the dish would otherwise be missing. Chives add a bit of onion or garlic flavor without being overpowering. Lemon thyme or balm add a lemony flavor without the citrus fruit. When deciding which garnish to use, think about whether or not your food needs a little something, or if it tastes great the way it is, and choose accordingly.
What kinds of garnishes will you find at market? One choice is herbs. In the spring several vendors have herb plants so you can grow your own and clip as desired. Through all but the coldest months many vendors will have herb bunches as well. I prefer to pop mine in a jar of water in the kitchen to keep them handy and to remind me to use them. Some herbs store well in the fridge, too, and may prefer it there in the summer if your kitchen is hot. Don’t put basil in the fridge, though! It will turn black there.
Edible flowers are another, and very pretty choice. Right now violas are in season and available at market, but there are others throughout the year. Don’t assume that a flower is edible, though. If there’s not a sign that tells you, ask before you eat!
Edible weeds show up at market as well. Many have pleasant or neutral flavors, but if you find one a bit strong or not to your liking for another reason, try it cut finely as a garnish.
Vegetable ferments, such as sauerkraut or kimchi, are another option for color and flavor. Harvest Roots Ferments of course makes quite a few options, but other vendors preserve their excess produce by fermenting it as well. I love Big Lil Ginger and its pink color in my lunch.
In the past year or so microgreens have appeared at market. They differ from sprouts as they are grown for a longer period of time and also are usually grown in soil. At market we have both soil-grown microgreens and those grown aquaponically. I’ll let you Google, sample, and decide which you prefer, but I’ll explain the differences in how to store them.
The soil grown microgreens are best kept in your kitchen near a light source. I keep my on the drainboard next to the sink, under a fluorescent light. Keep them moist, and put them on a plate or in Grandma’s Corningware to keep the dirt and water contained:
The aquaponic sprouts are grown on a hemp mat. They are best kept on the mat in the fridge, also on a plate. Don’t let them dry out, but don’t let them get too soggy, either:
For either type of microgreens cut as needed and use. When I’m done with the soil grown greens I compost the dirt with roots and so far have been saving the containers for my own plant starts. I’ve also been composting the hemp mats, but I read online that some are not meant for home composting, only commercial. I’m assuming that means they’ll take a long time to break down, but ask Steve with Downtown Aquaponics if you have any concerns.
Whatever garnish you choose will turn a good meal into something better!
Although many of the recipes I share are old favorites, I’m always on the lookout for something new to try. While my inspiration often comes from Pinterest, this week’s recipe source is old-school, from a magazine.
I was at Ladies of Charity and decided to give the magazine rack a glance. Bon Appétit “Healthy-ish” Recipes caught my eye. I laughed at their sense of humor and honesty and decided to give the magazine a try. I’m not a fan of plenty of “healthy” recipes, especially those that are anything but: low fat, fake food substitutes, or non-local subs for local food all fall into that category for me.
I had more hope for something billing itself healthy-ish. I was pleased upon reading the editor’s words on why the name was chosen, and also pleased to find a recipe that I wanted to try early on in the pages.
This recipe is a recreation of a trendy dish from New York City. Since the magazine is from 2017 I’m guessing that the dish may not be so hot in NYC anymore. However, I’m interested in good food, not trends, so no worries here! I suspect, though, that my changes are pretty trendy as well.
Part of cooking seasonally and locally is making do with what you have. Sometimes this means altering a recipe significantly, other times the changes are only minor. In this case I substituted one brassica for another. The original recipe calls for broccolini, curly kale, and Brussels sprouts. I had collard raab (or rabe), red Russian kale, and napa cabbage.
Have you heard of collard raab? Broccoli raab is more common, but other brassica raabs are showing up at market and in recipes online. As far as I can tell, while broccoli raab is a specific variety, the other raabs are simply the buds of the bolting plant. They are imbued with the characteristics of the particular brassica that they come from, but generally the remaining chill of spring keeps them tender and tasty, not overly bitter like I usually associate with bolting greens.
Collard raab is a stronger tasting green than broccolini but I found it to be a bit lemony as well, and not a harsh flavor. I used untoasted sesame oil for roasting it; that seemed a better oil for roasting, as well as going well with the sesame seeds. Sunflower oil would be another good choice.
Since I had kale on hand I decided to use it and not to stray any further from the recipe than necessary. I used red Russian kale and found it work well with the dressing I massaged into it.
I was sad not to have picked up any Brussels sprouts at market. I love them and wanted to try them in this recipe. However, I had the right amount of napa cabbage and decided to prep it in a similar size/shape to how the sprouts are described. It was a good choice! The white leaves also provide a nice color contrast to the green of the other brassicas.
I used salted sunflower seeds because that’s what we had. Even though I had unsalted sesame seeds I chose to use Gomashio, a mix of ground and whole toasted sesame seeds with salt. I was concerned that my salad might turn out too salty so I went easy on the salt. I ended up having to add a little more at the end, but we do like things salty!
Even though I followed the recipe suggestion to top my dish with chives, I decided to add a bit more brassicas as well in the form of microgreens. I don’t remember the exact mix but I do remember hearing some brassica names included in the list.
Surprisingly, a vegetable ferment was not included in the original recipe. I felt like something was missing without it. For this bowl I chose Harvest Roots Ferments' Big Lil' Ginger. Both the flavor and the color go well with the other ingredients.
It’s a beautiful salad!
Photo by Zachary Cross
Adapted from Bon Appétit’s Brassicas Bowl
4 large eggs
1 bunch collard raab, trimmed
1 tablespoons sesame oil
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 small bunch red Russian kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
8 ounces baby napa cabbage, trimmed, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds, divided
1⁄2 cup hummus
1 avocado, quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon Gomashio (toasted sesame seeds with salt)
Microgreens for garnish, preferably brassica (cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc.)
Fermented veggies (I used Harvest Roots Ferments' Big Lil Ginger) (for serving)
Options: in addition to my changes made in my version of the recipe above, see the blog post. Basically, you can change this up in many ways to suit you and the ingredients in season. Use any stalky brassica (broccoli, broccoli raab, cauliflower) in place of the collard rabe/broccolini. Cut broccoli and cauliflower florets on the small side. Use 2 different leafy brassicas in place of the kale and napa cabbage/Brussels sprouts. Scarlet kale is especially beautiful in a salad. Napa cabbage and Brussels sprouts are pretty similar to other cabbages so you could use another type of cabbage in their place. Use a fried or hard boiled egg, or a leftover meat that sounds good. Use another oil and vinegar dressing or another oil for roasting. Use other fresh herbs for garnish. Use other nuts or seeds as desired. Adjust the salt to your taste (the Gomashio and salted sunflower seeds add salt). Have fun and enjoy!
Printable version of the original recipe here. Printable of my adaptation here.