When it comes to local foods, the menu is endless. In fact, much more than broccoli and squash are filling up plates this summer. I've recently tried two great, local veggies that are entirely new to me:kohlrabi and garlic scapes. So what are these great food finds? And how does one make them so delicious?
To my less-than-expertly-trained palate, kohlrabi--which I'd never eaten before this summer--tastes very much like cabbage. Firm in the middle (not layered, like cabbage), kohlrabi tastes great in smallish, match-stick sized pieces. The first salad we ate it in--not a big hit in our house, I'll admit--included Yukina savoy (a salad green that's also new to us, reminding me of spinach or mustard greens), but I went straight for the tasty kohlrabi, which had been marinated in fresh squeezed lime juice and chili powder. Since then, I learned that making kohlrabi “matchsticks” in a mandolin cutter is both tasty and fun.
Meanwhile, I found an excellent article about how to use kohlrabi on the site Care2, which uses the Rolling Prairie Cookbook by Nancy O'Connor as its source. Here's an excerpt that explains a bit about what kohlrabi actually is:
The name kohlrabi comes from the German kohl, meaning cabbage, and rabi, or turnip, and that kind of sums it up. Although these green bulbs look like they were dug up from the earth, the round bulb is a swollen stem that grows above ground. Not a commonly used vegetable in American cuisine, kohlrabi is widely used in Central Europe and Asia. It is still patiently waiting to be discovered in this country.
Here’s a great recipe for kohlrabi slaw, from Recipezaar.com
• 2 cups cabbage, grated
• 2 small cucumbers, peeled and chopped
• 1 kohlrabi, peeled and grated
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 1 red bell pepper, grated
• 1 carrot, grated
• black pepper
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
• 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Mix ingredients together and chill for several hours before serving.
I was glad to be able to use cabbage from our garden, and I also found that I could use the purple onions I got from my farmshare.
Along with kohlrabi, there was another delicious, locally grown food I didn't know about before this summer: garlic scapes. I’d never seen them, smelled them, or touched them, and I most certainly did not know where they came from. But our Harmony Valley farm share delivered us local, organic scapes - and oh, how far my family has come in one short week.
According to Mother Earth News:
"If you grow your own garlic or have a good farmer’s market, then you can enjoy a new kind of vegetable — garlic scapes. The scapes are the flower stems that garlic plants produce before the bulbs mature. Growers often remove the scapes to push the plant’s energy toward bigger bulbs, and when harvested while they are young and tender, the scapes are delicious."
Garlic scape enthusiasts are many--they include pretty much everyone who’s tried them in the right season. I’m happy to count myself as one of them now, thanks to an incredible meal my wife cooked recently. The scampi-like recipe, as much as one exists, went down something like this:
1. First the scapes were sauteed in the olive oil, and shrimp were coated in flour.
2. Next, the shrimp were browned in olive oil.
3. White wine, lemon were added to the pan.
4. Next, butter was added, and the whole thing came together.
5. Finally, the perfectly cooked shrimp and scapes were served over gnocchi (you can use nay noodles you like).
The garlic scapes, true to what I’d heard, tasted very much like garlic--not terribly surprising, I realize, since they are garlic. But their texture was much more like cooked green beans. Plus, they look really cool. I hope we get them again soon.