Many many people lately are growing edible gardens. Some were planted in response to food freakouts related to ‘Rona, some were planted in response with people being out of work and needing something to occupy their time; these two being dubbed “Covictory Gardens.” This is a play on words combining “Covid” and “Victory” and also a nod to Victory Gardens of the WW2 era. Some however are just ordinary gardens planted by people who have been slowly getting back to our roots in recent years. I’m fortunate to have friends in the latter group. Incidentally, I also have family members who have been farming for generations, so advice (and the occasional bundle of fresh produce) is readily available to me!
Recently, a sweet friend from church blessed us with some of the bounty from her garden. She had even planted some things she didn’t know anything about at the insistence of her husband and wow! All the work of her hands has certainly been blessed! One of the things she’s planted that has been flourishing in her garden is purple kohlrabi. Purple kohlrabi is a bulbous vegetable that looks a little bit like an alien. It has the faint scent of radishes when you cut into it and tastes subtly of turnips and broccoli. And it is, in fact, a bright, beautiful shade of violet!
I hadn’t ever tried kohlrabi, so I jumped at the chance when she offered me one! I needed to experience it. My local Sprouts carries a fairly good assortment of fresh produce. I could have easily grabbed some (green) kohlrabi at Sprouts, but there’s just something about digging into some fresh veg grown with her own two hands. When she offered me the purple kohlrabi I set out looking for a recipe to highlight the best of the ingredient. I didn’t want to hide it away. I wanted to experience the full panorama of flavors and complexities.
This called for something more elevated than a typical food blogger could provide. I’m not in any way knocking food bloggers by any means. Please don’t misunderstand. After all, I am a food blogger myself. No, I needed to “honor the ingredient.” When you hear of a chef “honoring” an ingredient, it means bringing out the best – featuring the best – of an ingredient. To this point, I searched out a recipe from Bon Appétit magazine. I struck gold as I knew I would when found a fresh-sounding recipe from Chef Ignacio Mattos for Shaved Kohlrabi with Apple and Hazelnuts from his menu at Estela in New York City.
The salad was a different type of salad than we’re used to. Less lettuce, more mixing of fruit and veg and bright, sharp flavors of crisp apple and zesty lemon. It was all freshened by hints of fresh mint (from my garden – thank you very much) and brought back down to this stratosphere by the crunchy, nutty, earthy notes of toasted hazelnuts and salty umaminess of shaved pecorino romano. I paired the salads with portions of baked salmon to further send the fresh flavors of the season home. The whole meal was light and refreshing and great for a quick weeknight meal for a muggy summer evening. (Sure, apples aren’t exactly in season at this moment… but boy did it send this dish over the edge!)
What new things are you exploring this summer?
Currently Reading: Gone with the Windsors by Laurie Graham