I think I fall into that unusual category of people who are crazy about Brussels sprouts. You could put a giant bowl of them in front of me and every last one would be gone within minutes. I hear that this is not the norm, though. If you find yourself with some Brussels sprouts on your hands and aren’t quite sure what to do with them, here are a few tips to help you through the preparation process: Storage: If you’re in possession of a stalk or 2 of Brussels sprouts but know you won’t be cooking them for a little while, leave them on the stalk and refrigerate them. If space is an issue, trim them off the stalk and store them, uncovered, in a bowl in the fridge until you’re ready to eat them. The outer layer will shrivel, and you’ll need to peel it off and discard it before preparing the sprouts, but they will still be crisp and yummy! Sprouts keep in the fridge for several weeks, if handled properly. Preparation: Trim Brussels sprouts off stalk, and cut off stem flush at base of each sprout. Before going any further, soak Brussels sprouts in warm water for 10 minutes. This will release any dirt and little unwanted critters that might be lurking around the top layers. Once soaking is complete, drain and rinse as usual. Discard any withered layers and trim off damaged areas before cooking. If cooking Brussels sprouts whole, cut a small X in the top (not the stem side). This will help the sprouts to cook through more evenly. Alternatively, cut sprouts in half, or in quarters if larger, to allow for quicker cooking while still keeping the layers of the sprout intact. Recipe Inspiration: My favorite way to cook Brussels Sprouts is actually to shred them by slicing them thinly with a knife. I caramelize some minced Shallots in a skillet with Bacon Grease, add the shredded Sprouts, a splash of Apple Cider to round out the flavor, and Salt and Pepper to taste. Sauté until they’re just wilted and voila! Simple, flavorful, and delicious! *Image courtesy of: http://www.taylorfarms.com/products/classic-vegetables/brussels-sprouts/.
Leeks are often known as the “soup onion” because of their mildness. They provide a perfect for complement to the more complex flavors of many dishes, such as soups, quiches, and gratins, without being overpowering. If you’ve never prepared leeks before, we have a few suggestions to make the process fast and easy. Because leeks, by nature, are layered vegetables that grows in the ground, they tend to collect dirt and grit that needs to be removed before being consumed. Here are a few tips to get them squeaky clean and ready to be cooked: Begin by chopping off the darker green leaves of the leek. While these sections can be used to flavor stocks, they are too tough to eat. Set the white and pale green portions aside. If using a recipe that only calls for the leeks to be halved, slice them in half lengthwise and hold each half under cold running water. Use your fingers to move the layers around a bit, allowing the water to move through them and flush out any grit. If using a recipe that calls for chopped leeks, halve them lengthwise, and then slice them up. Dunk them in a large bowl of cold water and use your hands to agitate them in the water so that any grit is dislodged. Pour into a strainer or colander to drain, and then rinse once more under cold running water to flush out any last bits of grit. Cook according to your recipe of choice and enjoy! *Image courtesy of: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_clean_leeks/.
One of my favorite food blogs is The Kitchn because it consistently offers a great mix of accessible recipes and cooking hacks that make preparing food so much easier. On top of that, The Kitchn almost always tells you why instead of only telling you how so you understand the method behind the method. As kohlrabi has continued to stump many, I’ve turned to my trusty online resource, and, as always, it has not failed me. Below is an excerpt from a great article on various ways to prepare kohlrabi, that has me brimming with inspiration. To read the full piece, with links to additional recipes, click here. How Should I Eat Kohlrabi? Kohlrabi is found in a lot of Indian cooking, so it naturally does well with traditional Indian spices. Honestly, though, we feel that the mild flavor of kohlrabi gets lost if mixed with too many other vegetables or seasonings, so we tend toward simple preparations where the kohlrabi can take center stage: Raw When raw, kohlrabi is slightly crunchy and mildly spicy, like radishes mixed with turnip. You can toss them in a salad, make a slaw out of grated kohlrabi, or eat them on their own with a drizzle of good olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. In Soup While kohlrabi can be thrown into a basic chunky vegetable soup, we particularly like it in a creamy, pureed soup with mild spices so that sweet kohlrabi flavor can really shine through. Kohlrabi can also be added to recipes for Cream of Potato, Cream of Broccoli, and even Cream of Mushroom soup! In Fritters This is a great way to get kids to eat their kohlrabi! Shred it and mix with an egg and a few tablespoons of flour or breadcrumbs. Heat oil or butter in a flat skillet, drop on small mounds, and flatten slightly with the back of your spatula. Turn after a few minutes, and serve when both sides are crispy. Roasted Like most other vegetables, when roasted in the oven, the outside of the kohlrabi caramelizes, and the flavor sweetens and mellows. We like to toss it with other roasted veggies like eggplant and potatoes for a hearty side dish. Steamed This is kind of a cheat-suggestion because kohlrabi can be used in literally anything once steamed. We throw steamed kohlrabi into frittatas, stir-fries, and pasta dishes. We also like to puree it with a little cream and simple spices. There are even recipes for stuffing steamed kohlrabi into empanadas and calzones! *Image courtesy of http://www.thekitchn.com/what-is-kohlrabi-45055.
By this point in the CSA season, if the Fennel Bulb hasn’t already crossed your path, it’s about to, and there are a few things you should know as you delve into this delicious new territory: Fennel bulbs have a pronounced anise flavor, which is more potent when eaten raw and more mellow when cooked. To prepare a Fennel Bulb, remove the remaining parts of any stalks (which can be reserved for soups or vegetable stocks), quarter, and peel off any wilted outer layers. Cut the hard core out of the very bottom center, and you’re ready to go! To consume Fennel Bulbs raw, slice very thinly and serve mixed in with salad greens. (A mandoline is helpful here.) To consume cooked Fennel Bulbs, boil or steam a head for up to 20 minutes, or roast in wedges for 40-50 minutes.