Local Bounty: February 21
Beyond Ordinary at The Vegetable Shop at Chino Farms
Posted Thursday, February 21, 2013, 08:26AM
Surprise me, I said to Tom Chino last Sunday. What haven’t I seen before? And, leave it to Tom, he did surprise me—with broccoli, carrots, and radicchio. Oh, really? This is what you call extraordinary? Well, yes, if you consider the varieties he sent me home with. Seriously, if you’re willing to settle for the usual, you don’t stop by The Vegetable Shop.
Speaking of which, before I left, Chino led me out to the field next to the produce stand, where squat trees were in full flower against the gray sky. He plucked a delicate white and pink flower and handed it to me. “Tell me what it tastes like.” Oy, the pressure. But as I chewed a faint flavor grew stronger until I thought I had a piece of marzipan in my mouth. “Almonds,” I ventured. And I was right. It was a flower from a peach tree. Peaches—and apricots—he said, are part of the almond family. And, chef Trey Foshee of George’s at the Cove is picking them to add to dishes on his menu.
Beyond ordinary, indeed.
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
This disheveled looking English variety of broccoli thrives on cold weather; in fact, it gets sweeter as the temps drop. Fans of Yotam Ottolenghi’s vegetarian cookbook Plenty know his dish “Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Rice Noodles” but relax, you can use purple sprouting broccoli in dishes made with conventional broccoli. So, you can briefly steam it, turn it into tempura, stir fry it, or blanch and then grill it before drizzling with some good soy saucec and sesame oil. If the stalks are a little woody, just peel them.
Kyo Ninjin Carrots
Otherwise known as Kyoto red carrots, these large root veggies are native to Kyoto. They have a strong, sweet carrot flavor and the deep crimson color permeates straight through to the core. Slice thin and add to soup, pair with white daikon and steam. According to Tom Chino, they are often carved into a cherry blossom as a harbinger of spring, but I found an interesting website called Kansha Kitchen Culture that shows how Kyo ninjin can be carved into plum blossoms. $2 a bunch
Radicchio di Treviso Tardivo
This is the sweetest of the radicchio varieties. The splayed white ribs and cabernet colored leaves have a tender mild bitterness and their meatiness make the heads perfect for grilling and braising. I ended up chopping mine into a salad with clementines, sliced almonds, and burrata. Try sautéing and adding to a risotto with sausage or pasta e fagioli (pasta and bean soup). $3 a head
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