Cooking with Mandy: What to do with all these odd-looking veggies?!

In Blog, Food by Mandy Kaewsowatana0 Comments

We hope you get as excited as we do when we open our CSA share every week! Receiving that box full of vegetables is one of the most exciting parts of our week! We love seeing what recipes we can create from all the goodies in the box! Some are interesting and unusual, while others are more familiar.

Maybe you’ve noticed some rather strange, perhaps unidentifiable vegetables in your CSA share lately. We certainly have! But just because some of these vegetables may look unfamiliar, doesn’t mean they should be neglected and left out of our kitchens. It can be difficult sometimes to find a way to use up some of the less popular vegetables, like kohlrabi, fennel, mustard greens, and turnips.

Here are a few tips on how to prepare some of these less-familiar veggies!

Purple kohlrabi

A member of the cabbage family, this cruciferous root vegetable is extremely versatile! It can be roasted simply with sea salt, black pepper, and olive oil; it can be enjoyed raw, like crudité, or shredded into thin matchsticks for a slaw; it can be sautéed with olive oil and garlic for a crunchy side dish; or it can be steamed or boiled and pureed for a mashed potato alternative. Young kohlrabi does not need to be peeled, as the skin is relatively thin, but as the root matures, it develops a thicker exterior, requiring the vegetable to be peeled prior to preparing. You can peel the root with a vegetable peeler or a paring knife.

Turnips

Turnips are part of the radish family, and while they don’t have that iconic spicy bite that traditional radishes do, they can be eaten just like radishes. And, even more, just like radishes, the leafy greens that sprout from the top of the bulbous root can also be enjoyed. The turnip root can be roasted, the greens can be sautéed with garlic and olive oil, or you can toss both into a stew or soup. You can also enjoy turnips raw in a salad or steamed and pureed like mashed potatoes. Like the kohlrabi, when the turnip root is young, the skin is still delicate and does not need to be peeled away; however, as the turnip matures, the skin thickens and becomes unpleasantly fibrous, so it is best to peel the skin in this case.

Fennel

Fennel is a wonderfully sweet, aromatic root vegetable with a delicate anise flavor. It pairs impeccably well with pork, fish, and even mussels. If you’re preparing a whole rockfish, both the fennel bulb and the feather-like fronds can be stuffed inside the cavity, along with fresh slices of orange or lemon. For mussels, you can sauté diced fennel and onion, and then add in the mussels and steam them in Pernod, which is a licorice-flavored liqueur, or white wine. In addition to pairing fennel with seafood or pork, you could also enjoy the vegetable raw, sliced thinly in a salad with orange segments, arugula, and a tangy citrus vinaigrette. The natural sweetness in fennel caramelizes even more when it’s roasted, so it’s a perfect side dish to any meal when roasted on its own, or with other root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, white potatoes, parsnips, carrots, and/or onions.

Mustard greens

Mustard greens are similar to kale in taste, texture, and nutritional content. Rich in calcium, vitamin K, and fiber, mustard greens make an excellent, healthy complement to any meal. Although the greens can be slightly bitter, they hold up well when sautéed with garlic and olive oil or even when tossed into soups or stews.

No matter what vegetables come your way, it’s always helpful to have a few recipes in your repertoire to put a healthy meal on the table in no time at all. And when you come across the more unusual vegetables, don’t let them intimidate you! Rather allow them to inspire you to expand your palate and discover wonderful new flavors.

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