potato-kohlrabi puree

I should be ashamed of my non-blogging. Not a single post since May 29th – and that one wasn’t even food related! I have a new awesome kitchen, a weekly pick-up of fresh veggies from Sang Lee Farms, and no posts to show for it. I can’t even blame my busy schedule since I’m not at work or in classes (although I am putting in almost-full-time hours at a pediatric obesity clinic in a hospital for my fieldwork). So enough of my lack of excuses, and onto my kohlrabi obsession…

Every time I’ve walked through the farmer’s market for about the past year and seen kohlrabi, I’ve been intrigued. If you’ve never seen it, kohlrabi is a bizarre looking creature. It’s as if cabbage, Brussels sprouts, a radish, and a potato all mated with Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors. Technically, kohlrabi is a wild cabbage and can be prepared in a few different ways. The first time it arrived in our mystery bag of CSA farm veggies, I was really excited to experiment. I peeled it (and we ate a few slices raw, which kind of tasted like sweet radish), tossed the slices in spelt flour and spices, and sauteed them in a pan with a spritz of olive oil to make kohlrabi fries. The second time, I did the same thing but an oven roasted version instead of fried. I also stir-fried the green leaves and stems with some garlic and sesame oil, and they took a while to get tender but had a great flavor. These were super delicious side dishes, but the third time kohlrabi came around this summer, I decided to mix it up, especially since we had potatoes and onions in the bag too.

Kohlrabi can really be substituted for potatoes in most recipes, but a combination of potatoes and kohlrabi is a popular mix if you google search some recipes. For my recipe, I combined a few ideas I found and ended up with this:

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Potato-Kohlrabi Puree

Trim the stems and leaves off a kohlrabi bulb, and peel off the tough outer layer. Wash 1-2 cups of potatoes (peel on or off is up to you – I did peel on) and dice both into about one inch cubes. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil, and add the potato and kohlrabi cubes. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender (test with a fork) for about 15 minutes. While the potatoes and kohlrabi are cooking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and cook 3/4 of a cup of diced onion until it’s soft. Drain the potatoes and kohlrabi and either add the onion to the saucepan if you’re using a hand blender or put all three in a food processor. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/4 cup of low fat milk, and salt and pepper to taste, and pulse until you get to your desired smoothness (I like mine fairly chunky). If you’re feeling fancy, serve with a little drizzle of olive oil over the top. I think I like the taste even better than regular mashed potatoes!

Anyone out there have any other great kohlrabi suggestions? It’s become one of my new summer favorites and hopefully there’s more coming my way…

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summery salsa in fall

It’s a rare event these days, three quarters of the way through the semester, when I have time to cook a meal, let alone photograph it or write about it. Do I have time tonight? No. But after 5 1/2 hours of work, 2 1/2 hours of food service & management, 3 hours of biostatistics, and 3 cumulative hours of subway riding, you couldn’t pay me to do anything “productive” right now!

Habañero salsa, rough chop and blended

I’d rather think about vegetables. Recently we were lucky enough to inherit, once again, our friends’ share of CSA farm veggies for the week. A slew of beautiful root vegetables – turnips, sweet potatoes, multicolored carrots, onions and leeks, with rosemary and garlic – made of a delicious roasted/slightly charred pile of fall heartiness one night, and the habañeros and cilantro turned into salsa… two ways. I found some recipes for habañero salsa and ended up combining a few. I took five or six tomatillos, husked and chopped them, and added one habañero (they’re strong!), a bunch of cilantro, two cloves of garlic, a white onion, fresh squeezed lime and orange juice, orange zest, and salt to taste. We ate the chunky roughly chopped version on top of grilled fish with avocado, and then blended the leftover salsa to a smoother consistency which is good with blue corn chips and will probably be great with some version of huevos rancheros for brunch one day. I’ve actually been putting it on top of almost everything. Who says salsa is for summer?


cous cous with grilled summer squash, beets, and goat cheese

Yesterday we picked up our second free share of farm vegetables (see last post for the how and why!) which included beets, two kinds of summer squash, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, boston lettuce, and cantaloupe. I started searching for recipe ideas that would include as many of the vegetables as possible, but believe it or not there’s not a single recipe out there apparently that includes beets, squash, and eggplant. But I found a recipe on epicurious that I was able to improvise on. Here’s my version:

Summer squash & eggplant; Cous cous with veggies, beets, and goat cheese

Boil or steam beets until cooked (20-40 minutes depending on size), peel, and chop into slices or matchsticks. Whisk together 1 tbs sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar, 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss with beets in a bowl. Bring 2 cups water (or vegetable stock), a little salt, and 1 tbs olive oil to a boil. Stir in 1 cup couscous, then cover pan and remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Meanwhile heat 1 tbs oil in a skillet and cook a diced red onion for a few minutes. Then add a chopped bell pepper (I used red), and the kernels cut from a fresh ear of corn and cook, stirring about 3 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork and stir into vegetables, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Slice summer squash and eggplant into thin slices, toss with olive oil and grill in batches or oven bake (I used my cast iron stovetop grill skillet), then add to cous cous/veggie bowl. Serve cous cous and veggies on plates topped with a helping of beets and a slice of herb-coated goat cheese.

It was a delicious combo! (And if you want to make it vegan, just leave out the goat cheese – although I think it’s what ties the whole dish together. And if you want to go not vegetarian, you can add prosciutto, as suggested in the original recipe). We also had a salad of boston lettuce and tomatoes with a balsamic vinaigrette with a touch of honey and sesame seeds. We still have the beet greens to use though… any good suggestions?


farm shares and purple produce

Due to some generosity and the good fortune of our friends’ vacation, Chris and I inherited two weeks worth of farm-fresh produce. Our friends are members of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in the Dumbo/Vinegar Hill neighborhood. For those of you not familiar, CSA’s are a way for people to buy produce directly from local farms. Before the harvest season, members pre-pay to buy fresh, locally grown organic vegetables which they pick up one evening a week. The farm for this CSA is Sang Lee Farm on Long Island, and this week our share included red romaine, red bulb onions, a bunch of ong choy, purple basil, cherry tomatoes, orange heirloom tomatoes, and watermelon. The night we picked up the share, we made a big pot of mussels with white wine and crusty bread, sauteed the ong choy (which I had never heard of but it tasted kind of like spinach) with garlic and olive oil, made a salad of the red romaine and cherry tomatoes, and had some watermelon for dessert. I was in fresh veggie heaven, and we still had the onions, purple basil, orange tomato, and lots of watermelon left over.

Fairytale eggplant, purple basil, swiss chard, and olive bread

 

Cinnamon basil

On to the leftovers. Our friends whose CSA share it was had gotten some purple basil the week before (another thing I didn’t know existed until now!) and said it made a good pesto, so on Saturday I started preparing to make a purple pesto sauce for dinner. I found an interesting recipe which is lower in fat than most pesto sauces and uses tomatoes, which is really unusual. However, I quickly realized I didn’t have enough purple basil to make pesto, so I headed to the farmers market to look for more. I couldn’t find any purple basil, but as I wandered around past regular basil, thai basil, and lemon basil, I spotted huge bunches of flowery leaves labeled “cinnamon basil” at one of the stands. As soon as I got it home my whole apartment smelled incredible – like spicy, pungent cinnamony basil goodness. I even kept the flowers in a glass of water after I pulled all the leaves off because they were so pretty. At the market, I also picked up a loaf of black olive semolina bread, these tiny bright purple eggplants called “fairytale eggplant” and a beautiful bundle of swiss chard. With the CSA leftovers plus the farmers market additions, the dinner menu came together: orange heirloom tomatoes with watermelon & feta, black olive semolina bruschetta with purple/cinnamon basil pesto & grilled fairytale eggplant (idea found here), sauteed swiss chard with red onions, white wine, lemon & parmesan, and the rest of the pesto tossed with some whole wheat penne. Truly a feast. And I used more of the leftover pesto mixed with scrambled eggs for brunch this morning. Is there anything basil can’t make better?

 

Eggplant bruschetta & sauteed swiss chard