Veggie revelations

Okay, sometimes I need a nudge. Especially when it comes to vegetables. A few I love, but many I can happily ignore.

(Fruits are a different story. Haven’t yet met one I don’t like, and many of them I crave.)

Which is one reason it has taken us a long time to get on the CSA bandwagon. Here I am, touting locally grown foods, and this is the first year I’ve ever subscribed directly to a farm. It’s the Red Wagon Organic Farm out on Valmont Road, one of my favorite vendors from the Boulder Farmers Market.

So last week our first box was ready, and we were like kids on Christmas morning, pawing through the bags to see what the farm Santa had brought us.

A bunch of radishes, a bag of braising greens, some Egyptian walking onions, a bag of pea shoots, baby salad greens—the goodies went on and on.

I broke off a large red radish and bit into it, relishing the crunch. My eyes widened. It was sweet—the sweetest radish I have ever tasted. Possibly the best-tasting radish in my life, ever. I ate half the bunch on the spot. (Red Wagon means it when they say they are growing for taste.) For several days we ate with delight through more bags of veggies.

But then there were the turnips. We’re not, like, turnip fans, you know? The turnips sat in the fridge waiting for someone to get inspired.

Then my sweetie got on the web and found this recipe for baby turnips. It was simple, and we had all the ingredients—butter, olive oil, honey. How far wrong can you go? Best of all, the dish wouldn’t take long to make. (That’s the other reason we haven’t been CSA subscribers until now: you’ll rarely find us racing to the kitchen with stars in our eyes because it’s finally time to cook.)

My first turnip surprise happened while slicing them. I popped one into my mouth, expecting it to taste, well, like a turnip. Wrong. It was sweet and subtle and buttery. By far the best fresh turnip I have ever tasted.

But the second eye-opener happened when we scooped the cooked turnips onto our plates. It was a revelation! I plowed through one serving, then another, before touching anything else on the table. I ate them like I was starved for them. Like I’d been waiting my whole life for them.

Which, in a sense, I was.

Yesterday we emailed the farm and upped our subscription from biweekly to weekly. Today the farm Santa comes again, and I hear he’s delivering radishes and turnips this week too.

I can hardly wait.

Debbie’s Honey-Kissed Baby Turnips & Greens

(recipe at the Seasonal Eating blog, by Debbie at Live Earth Farm)

Serves 2

4 small to medium turnips with greens
1 tsp butter (I used ghee)
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp honey
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Wash turnip bulbs and trim tops and tails. They do not need to be peeled. Cut into half-inch slices. [I cut each turnip into two and then thin-sliced the halves.]

Wash green tops, separating out and discarding any yellowed leaves and keeping the fresh green ones. Spin or shake off excess water and chop greens.

In a heavy-bottomed skillet [cast iron is great], melt butter and add olive oil. When butter starts bubbling, add turnips and stir/shake pan to coat and distribute oil/butter. Let cook over medium heat, stirring and turning periodically, until turnips begin to soften and lightly brown, about 7 minutes.

Sprinkle moderately with sea salt, then add honey, stirring constantly to distribute–it will melt quickly.

Toss in the greens along with their clinging water. Continue to stir and cook until greens have wilted, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt and several grindings of black pepper, stir, and serve!



9 Responses to Veggie revelations

  1. Kristina Holmes says:May 31, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    You’re making my mouth water Priscilla. I belonged to a CSA a few years ago in Hawaii and it was some of the most incredibly fresh and tasty veggies I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.

    Enjoy the bounty! Isn’t it awesome what the earth will produce with a little love?

    • Priscilla Stuckey, PhD says:June 1, 2011 at 12:04 pm

      Yes, we don’t realize how much of our food these days is marinated in exhaust fumes–thousands of miles of steeping in a toxic brew! The taste of these locally grown veggies is just knocking me out.

      Krista Tippett on Being did a wonderful interview with a New York chef working with farm-to-table food in his restaurant. The interview was called “Driven by Flavor.” He gave some statistic about measuring the sweetness of carrots grown as they are meant to be grown, and the sugar content of those carrots goes through the roof. It’s the sweetness of these veggies that is knocking my socks off.

  2. Cheri Hoffer says:June 1, 2011 at 12:08 am

    Kissed by a box………………………….of veggies. YUM!

    • Priscilla Stuckey, PhD says:June 1, 2011 at 12:04 pm

      Hee hee.

  3. Alana says:June 1, 2011 at 6:38 am

    We had a CSA box when we lived in Glasgow, and it was a fantastic boon to our domestic existence–especially given that both of us will happily cook and eat whatever’s in the house, but left to make decisions at the market we always end up with the same two or three vegetables that we prepare the exact same way.
    I found The Produce Bible was a fairly indispensable reference to have on hand for box days.

    • Priscilla Stuckey, PhD says:June 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm

      Yes, the old habits at the market–I needed the nudge to get over that one. Will check out The Produce Bible. Thanks, Alana.

  4. Gail Storey says:June 1, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Priscilla, you’re encouraging us to join a CSA too! I’ve wondered whether we’d wind up with a whole lot of something we have no idea what to do with, but it sounds like you got a great variety of really tasty vegetables. Especially appreciate the turnip recipe. Please keep us posted on how your CSA membership continues to work out. And how did you select from among the many local CSAs, mainly by your Farmers Market choices?

    • Priscilla Stuckey, PhD says:June 1, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      Some of the veggies we don’t know what to do with, but the web always comes to the rescue. I tried comparing prices and packages from the various CSAs, but there were so many options here in town that it made my head hurt. So I went with a farm that I knew–I always love their table at the farmers market–and whose prices seemed pretty standard. You might also want to consider pickup options: many of them have a pickup option at the Wednesday night market, though Red Wagon doesn’t.

  5. Rivvy Neshama says:June 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Thank you, Priscilla, for this yummy entry! it reminded me of when my British husband and I were courting and spent our first New Year’s Eve in a snow-bound cottage in Vermont. He wanted a traditional (his) holiday dinner: parsnips, turnips, carrots, jacket potatoes… This did not get me excited, but we were courting…. So we roasted them all up with butter and finished things off with good bread and champagne. It was such a good meal that i still remember it. And your evocative description has inspired me to cook it again!