EatDrinkShopCook: What veggie will be this season's pick of the crop?
Who's in a betting mood? It's time to speculate on which vegetable is going to be this summer's darling at farmers' markets. Last year, kale claimed that honor. Everyone went nuts for the dark, leafy green, blending it into smoothies and baking it into chips. It made its way into weeknight dinners and picnic salads.
Now that farmers' markets have opened across the region for the season, it's time to start tracking the trends. I don't have a crystal ball, but there are some things to take into consideration. First, it's got to be at least slightly unusual. Tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and eggplant will always be popular, but they're too common to get excited over. Second, the flavor has got to be somewhat similar to another, more recognizable, vegetable. If it's completely out of the standard vegetable lexicon, it will be too challenging to win over popular opinion. And lastly, it helps if it's popular with celebrity chefs and local farm-to-table restaurants. Chances are, if you see it on the menu at any of Fairfield County's top restaurants, it's going to make its way into summer dinner parties.
With those criteria in mind, here are some vegetables to keep your eye on this summer.
Hakurei salad turnips: Don't confuse these with the big, purple turnips you mash at Thanksgiving. These little white turnips look like white radishes and have a more delicate, sweet taste. They can be sliced up raw and tossed in salads or cole slaw, or they can be roasted, sauteed or pickled. If you find them with the greens still attached, you get bonus points. The greens can be steamed or sauteed with garlic.
Garlic scapes: These serpentine vegetables are the flowering stalk of the garlic plant. They're similar to green onions, but with a garlic-y taste and heartier texture. You use them the same way you use green onions. Chop them into a salad, toss them in a stir-fry, mix them into pesto or dips.
More InformationTHE SCOOP Looking to get fresh, local veggies? Try one of the local farms, markets or restaurants. They include: • Greenfield Hill Farmers Market: Saturdays, 12:30 to 4 p.m., through Oct. 27 at Greenfield Hill Shopping Center, 1950 Bronson Road, Fairfield • Westport Farmers Market: Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Imperial Avenue commuter parking lot, Westport; www.westportfarmersmarket.com • Sport Hill Farm: 596 Sport Hill Road, Easton; www.sporthillfarm.com • Artisan: 275 Old Post Road, Southport; 203-307-4222; www.artisansouthport.com • Le Farm: 256 Post Road East, Westport: 203-557-3701; www.lefarmct.com
Dandelion greens: The poor dandelion. It's so much more than a weed. The greens make for a delicious (and healthy) salad, and they can be prepared like any other green as well. They're very bitter, so they pair well with goat cheese, nuts and other vegetables like carrots. At Westport's Le Farm, they get the royal treatment when combined with sorrel, white anchovies, egg, taggiasche olives and dijonnaise.
Kohlrabi: Perhaps one of the more unusual looking vegetables, kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family. It's a purple globe with alien-like antennae. The bulb is crisp and can be eaten raw in salads or slaw. Or, you can roast it or boil it. Again, the greens can be cooked, as well.
Those are my predictions, but of course, it's all just speculation. Only time, and the farmers' markets, will tell.
Patti Woods is a freelance writer. Contact her at email@example.com.
Looking to get fresh, local veggies? Try one of the local farms, markets or restaurants. They include:
- Greenfield Hill Farmers Market: Saturdays, 12:30 to 4 p.m., through Oct. 27 at Greenfield Hill Shopping Center, 1950 Bronson Road, Fairfield
- Westport Farmers Market: Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Imperial Avenue commuter parking lot, Westport; www.westportfarmersmarket.com
- Sport Hill Farm: 596 Sport Hill Road, Easton; www.sporthillfarm.com
- Artisan: 275 Old Post Road, Southport; 203-307-4222; www.artisansouthport.com
- Le Farm: 256 Post Road East, Westport: 203-557-3701; www.lefarmct.com