As we enter prime produce season, farmers markets and CSA shares are bursting with veggies of all shapes and sizes. Amid standards like carrots and kales are usually some weirdos — rutabaga, salad turnips, and daikon — that aren’t always obvious how to cook. We connected with a local farmer and chef to find out what strange veggies they’re enjoying this month and how they prepare them. ~ Ashley Owen/Moonshine Ink
Napa Cabbage While perusing our Riverhill Farm booth at the Truckee and Tahoe City farmers markets, many pass by the Napa cabbage without a second look. Also known as Chinese cabbage, this sweet, crunchy brassica is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber, and is considered a zero-calorie veggie. Napa cabbage is also the main ingredient of kimchi, which is finding its way to more American plates through the newfound interest in probiotics. ~ Jo McProud/Riverhill Farm
Napa Cabbage Salad with Almonds
1/2 cup roasted, chopped almonds
4 cups (one head) thinly sliced Napa cabbage
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup cilantro (optional)
Sliced radishes and/or Japanese salad turnips (optional)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 cup sesame oil
1/8 cup vegetable oil
Black pepper or red pepper flakes to taste
Combine the cabbage with everything except the nuts. Whisk dressing ingredients together and toss with the greens. Add the almonds just before serving.
Quick Kimchi Ingredients 1 head Napa cabbage
1 medium Asian radish
1/4 cup coarse sea salt
4 scallions, cut into 1-inch
4 garlic cloves minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 Teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
Dissolve salt in 1 cup water and set aside. Thoroughly wash the cabbage and cut into 2-inch lengths. Peel Asian radish and halve lengthwise, halve lengthwise again, then slice thinly into 1/2-inch squares. Place cabbage and radish in a large bowl and pour salt water over them. Let soak overnight or at least 5 hours. After soaking drain vegetables but keep salted water. Add scallions, garlic, ginger, chili powder, and optional sesame seeds. Mix all vegetables thoroughly by hand; use gloves as chili powder may sting.
Pack all in a large jar (about 2 quart size) and pour the salted water over the mixture. Leave an inch of space at the top of the jar. Cover tightly. Let sit for two to three days depending on how fermented you like your kimchi. Refrigerate after opening.
Fennel Bulb and Heritage Pork This Jake’s On The Lake recipe features Dinner Bell’s heritage pork plus fennel bulb — a must-try seasonal veggie that is often overlooked — and other fresh produce I find at the Tahoe City Farmers Market. ~ Scott Yorkey/Jake’s On The Lake
Panko-crusted Pork, Sweet Potato Bacon Hash, Fennel & Arugula Salad with Ginger Scallion Vinaigrette
2 Dinner Bell Farms pork chops
1 medium to large sweet potato
1/2 white onion diced
1/2 pound Dinner Bell Farms bacon
1 to 2 green onions
1 bunch arugula
1 large bulb of fennel
1 small Asian pear
1 1/4 Tbsp unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 1/4 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp peeled and diced fresh ginger root
3/4 tsp fresh chopped garlic
3/4 tsp white sugar
1/3 tsp white pepper
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 Tbsp neutral oil (rice bran or grapeseed)
1/3 tsp sherry vinegar
Wash and dice sweet potato into medium, 1/2-inch cubes. Steam until fork tender, set aside to cool. Prepare dressing by whisking ingredients together, set aside. Mix and refrigerate arugula, sliced green onions, and shaved fennel; wait to slice pear for salad until just before cooking the pork, then mix with salad ingredients.
Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and save 4 Tbsp fat to cook the hash. Reuse the pan for the hash (all the brown bits will make it extra tasty) and begin by heating the bacon fat and sautéing the white onion on med-high heat until translucent (4 to 5 minutes). Add the bacon and steamed sweet potato cubes; cook until sweet potatoes are slightly crispy.
While the hash is cooking, salt and pepper the pork chops and coat them with panko breadcrumbs. Place pork chops in a large, pre-heated sauté pan. Cook over med-high heat until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip pork chops and lower heat to medium. Continue cooking the pork chops until medium doneness (140 to 145 degrees).
Place sweet potato bacon hash on the center of each plate, then top with the pork chop. Dress the fennel salad with half of the vinaigrette and spoon the remaining vinaigrette onto each plate. Top with the fennel salad.