Preparing Unique Foods
- Asparagus is one of the first vegetables of spring. It is often considered a delicacy because it takes 3 to 4 years from the time the root is planted to start producing something edible. The spears are the young shoots of what would grow to be a giant fern-like plant if we didn't eat them. Asparagus is low in calories (24 calories in 1/2 cup) and high in Vitamin C and A. It can be eaten raw or cooked (just steam and serve with butter and/or salt) but should be washed first.
- Beets are one of the most versatile vegetables that you can grow. Both the root and the greens are edible. The leaves and stems of young plants are steamed briefly and eaten as a vegetable; old leaves and stems are stir-fried. The beetroot can be peeled, steamed and then eaten warm with butter; cooked, pickled and then eaten cold as a condiment; or peeled, shredded raw, and then eaten as a salad.
- Bell Peppers come in a variety of colours including red, yellow, orange and green. Colour is most often determined by when they are harvested but in the recent history, different varieties have been genetically selected for colour. Green peppers are less sweet and slightly bitterer than red, yellow and orange peppers and are thus added more often to meat dishes. The seeds are often removed before serving. They can also be eaten raw.
- Butter Leaf Lettuce has loose heads and bright green leaves that emerge like rose petals to form small to medium heads. It is known for their buttery texture and sweet flavour.
- Creamer Potatoes are Yukon or Red potatoes which are harvested before they mature. They are 1 inch in diameter and are excellent boiled and served with a little bit of butter and/or salt and pepper. It is common for creamer potatoes to have small holes or indentations due to their young skin being tender and easily bruised. Store in a cool, dark place. They will keep for 2 weeks at room temperature and longer when stored in cool temperatures. Do not store in the refrigerator. This will cause them to become dark when cooked. Also, do not store with onions. The gas given off by the onions will accelerate the decay of the potatoes.
- D'Anjou Pear is a fairly large pear that is light green in colour with a yellow tinge when ripe. They are naturally sweet and only ripen when they are picked and in cold storage for a month. They can be eaten raw, or used in recipes in place of apples. Remember to wash them first before eating.
- Green Beans can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, stir-fried, or baked in casseroles. To prepare, break off the tips. An easy way to serve is to cook in boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and serve. They can also be microwaved on high for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Kelsae Onions have a unique, mild sweet flavour. They grow quite large and hold the world record at 15 pounds. They are great on burgers and can also be used to make French Onion Soup.
- Mushrooms are easy to clean. Just brush the dirt off the mushrooms with a damp paper towel or use a soft mushroom brush to remove any of the sterile black growing medium. Never wash or soak mushrooms because they absorb water and become soggy. Trim the end of the stem before using. Mushrooms can be eaten uncooked, sauteed, grilled, broiled, roasted or microwaved.
- Parsnips are one of those vegetables that many people overlook. They grow underground like carrots and can be used in the same way. They are grown in colder climates since they need frost to improve their flavour.. Parsnips need to be peeled and can be boiled, sauteed, roasted and even grated when raw and added to salads. Parsnips may be substituted for carrots in most recipes. They are a great source of potassium, fibre, vitamin C and folate.
- Romaine Hearts are the centre leaves of romaine lettuce. They are smaller, more yellow and sweeter, and are perfect for use in a salad. Just wash first and then tear up into smaller pieces. Add sliced cucumber, chopped celery, radishes and green onions for a traditional salad (remember to rinse all ingredients under cold running water first). To add interest, add small pieces of fruit. Apples, oranges and chopped mango work well.
- Roma Tomato is a meaty, egg or pear shaped tomato that is available in red or yellow. It has few seeds and is a good canning or sauce tomato. It is one of the main varieties used in tomato paste.
- Salad Greens are a mix of different leafy greens. Lettuce is the most common but there are many different kinds that can be included in a salad mix. Add variety by adding chopped cauliflower, orange slices and cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with lemon juice to give a tangy flavour.
- Sweet Corn has a higher sugar content than field corn (which is fed to animals) and is picked and eaten early in the season. In Latin America, corn is traditionally eaten with beans. In Europe and the Orient, sweet corn is often boiled or steamed and served on pizza. The basic method for serving corn on the cob is to remove the husks (leafy covering), pull off the silky threads and cut out any blemishes. Drop the corn into a large pot filled with boiling salted water. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Serve with lots of butter and salt.
- Turnips are root vegetables that can be served just like potatoes - baked, boiled, sauteed, steamed or raw with dip. Just wash and slice, dice, chop, grate or leave whole - whatever your recipe calls for. Peeling is optional. Large turnips can be bitter if not cooked properly so don't overcook. When boiling turnips, add a potato - the bitter flavour.... will disappear.
- Zucchini is undoubtedly one of the more prolific summer squashes. It can be eaten raw, cooked, grilled, and even added to baked goods. One half cup of zucchini contains 16 calories, 1 gram of protein, 3 grams of carbohydrates, some vitamin A and C, and some fibre.
Did You Know?
Clover Valley Farmers’ Market distributes Food Box orders to 7 locations in the Rainy River and Kenora District areas.