Summer and fall are a great time for produce. Almost every city has farmer’s market at least once a week where you can purchase the fresh and beautifully presented produce. In addition to farmer’s markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are becoming more and more popular. Participants pay an upfront fee and then receive a weekly box of produce that is put together based on what is in season/available for harvest each week.
While it’s easy to find the common, traditional produce items like zucchini, green beans, and carrots, both Farmer’s Markets and CSAs provide people with a chance to be introduced to new items as well.
Let’s take a look at 4 of the more unusual produce items you may have come across this summer:
Kohlrabi resembles a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. If you get a small kohlrabi, peeling may not be required, but large bulbs of kohlrabi require peeling away two layers of thick skin in order to reach the crisp flesh below. It can be eaten raw or cooked, including the leaves, which can be sautéed or added salads. Try cutting your kohlrabi into strips and serving on a veggie platter with dip, spritzing with oil and baking to make kohlrabi fries or chopping and sautéing or steaming like broccoli. One cup contains 139% of your daily recommended Vitamin C intake!
These are the stalks that grow above ground on certain varieties of garlic. Many farmers remove them to keep them from stealing nutrients from the bulbs of garlic as they grow. They are often discarded, but they can be eaten and are becoming more popular at farmer’s markets and in CSA baskets! Try chopping them like green onions and using them as a topping for a salad or stir fry or adding them to other dishes with vegetables for a nice garlic flavor. Garlic scapes can are also often used to make pesto!
Zucchini and summer squash actually have two kinds of flowers on the same plant. The female flower is what turns into the produce we traditionally eat, while the male flowers simply turn into extra blooms. The good news is these blossoms are edible! Try stuffing them with cheese and frying or baking them, cooking them into your favorite pasta dish or turning them into a quesadilla!
Romanesco is a type of cauliflower that looks like a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. It’s lime green and kind of resembles a sea urchin with all of its bumps and spires. Similar to cauliflower, it will hold its shape when cooked, so try steaming it or sautéing in a pan and drizzling with cheese sauce!
Next time you’re at the farmer’s market or in the grocery store, I challenge you to pick up a a fruit or vegetable you haven’t seen before. It just might become your new favorite!