These aren’t necessarily unfamiliar vegetables that you don’t know how to prepare, like kohlrabi or rutabagas … but summer squash arrive in full force, bursting from the garden by the dozen, heaped in piles at the farmers market, heavy in your CSA box at the end of the summer. How to use it all and not feel the repetition of only a few dishes?
Tag: Summer Produce
Swiss chard (also known simply as chard) is a leafy green vegetable that is related to beets and spinach. It is rich in vitamins A, C and especially K, and it is also a good source of magnesium, iron and potassium. Chard can be steamed or sauteed, and it’s great in soups, stews, casseroles, frittatas and quiches. Young leaves can be eaten raw in salads.
Chard always has green leaves, but the stalks can be a variety of colors. Rainbow chard is an assortment of different varieties, with stalks of red, pink, orange, yellow and white. The colors will fade somewhat in the cooking process, but boy are they pretty to look at when uncooked! Chard stems take a little longer to cook than the leaves, but the whole plant is edible and delicious. It’s a little bit sweet in the stems (which have a slight celery-like flavor) and pleasantly bitter in the leaves. Some people prefer to remove the stems from the leaves and cook them separately. If the stems are thin and tender, this step can be skipped.
On the end of every growing zucchini or summer squash you will find a vibrant yellow-orange flower — the blossom — which is a vegetable in its own right. Zucchini blossoms are fragile and delicately flavored, a little sweeter and more ephemeral than the flavor of the squash itself. The blooms are naturally soft, but pick those that look fresh, not droopy, with mostly closed buds.
Farmers markets are starting to see more and more produce as the summer season takes off and the weather heats up. From tomatoes to corn and all kinds of summer squash, put these ingredients to use while they’re in their prime.
Food scientists think they’ve found a way to extend the life of fresh produce: Shock it in warm water. Researchers at The Cooking Lab, a research facility started by Modernist Cuisine author Nathan Myhrvold, report that submerging fruit and vegetables in hot water slows the production of the gases and enzymes that turn them brown. Just fill a large pot with hot tap water (between 122 degrees F and 131 degrees F) and soak the produce for two to three minutes. Then drain, dry and refrigerate it as usual. Your fruit and veggies might taste better, too. W. Wayt Gibbs from the lab says that, in the study, they found a slight increase in crunchiness.
(Photograph by Kang Kim)