It’s officially late summer at the markets: the stands are overflowing with gorgeous peaches, peppers, melons and all things signaling the bountiful turn to late summer. While we can still find strawberries (hooray!) we also start to find pears.
This, my friends, is the time to place some very special produce on your plate. As always I recommend buying the rainbow when you visit the market or grocery store: purchase a variety of colors, shapes and textures in your vegetable and fruit selections, and you will most certainly have a balanced variety to work with when you cook at home.
Here’s a curated list of some of my favorite seasonal showstoppers, along with some creative ways to prepare them with little time at all!
Kohlrabi – This wild bulbous root vegetable can be purple with white stripes, green, or white. It can also be huge (melon size) or the size of a beet with tops. A relative of the cabbage family, this delightful veggie has the flavor or a broccoli stem crossed with a cabbage or jicama. Be sure to use a sharp knife to remove the outer skin, following the shape of the round vegetable so you maximize the inside (the good stuff) that you eat. Kohlrabi is an excellent source of vitamin b6, manganese (nerve health, maintains blood sugar), folic acid and magnesium.
Fun ways to use kohlrabi:
1. Treat it like jicama: peel it, slice it thinly and toss with lime juice, chili flakes and sea salt. Eat it with your hands as a refreshing snack alone or with an avocado.
2. Grill it: peel it, slice it into rounds (like zucchini) and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper along with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice as a marinade. Grill until lightly charred and slightly softened – a little crunch is nice with this veggie.
Romanesco Broccoli – This cauliflower/broccoli variety has been grown in Italy since the 16th century! It looks reminiscent of a Thai temple to me, with its pointed, structured shape. It’s gorgeous chartreuse color is always a talking piece at the table. It has the same body benefits of broccoli and cauliflower so it’s a sure bet for a healthful side dish!
Fun ways to use romanesco broccoli:
1. Put it on your crudité platter for your next party and serve it with our bright beet dip for a truly interesting veggie plate.
2. Sauté the florets with olive oil, a little garlic, sea salt and lemon zest. Finish it with chili flakes or red wine vinegar (or both).
Figs – This delicate, delectable sweet fruit is one that won’t be around for long. It’s a very alkalizing food, meaning it helps balance acidic conditions in the body resulting from consumption of red meat, alcohol or refined sugars.
Fun ways to use figs:
1. Figs with balsamic in salad dressings: add a handful of figs and equal parts balsamic vinegar and olive oil to a blender and whirl it up, adding a couple pinches of salt and pepper to enhance the flavor. If the dressing is too thick add water to thin. Delicious on hand cured kale salads, carrot salads or radicchio.
2. Roasted figs for dessert: toss figs with honey and a splash of red wine vinegar and roast on a baking sheet for 15-20 minutes on 400. Serve with ice cream or a coconut pannacotta, or toss with fresh peaches for an all fruit dessert.
Romano Beans – These are a flatter, meatier green bean and are just as versatile as your average green bean. I find these long beans more substantial and flavorful, making them a great filling side dish with little fuss. You can find green, yellow or purple varieties (the color turns green when cooking either way).
Fun ways to use romano beans:
1. Eat them raw. Easy and delicious.
2. Drop them in a pot of boiling water for just 15 seconds. Drain them, then sauté or roast them with cherry tomatoes, garlic, sea salt and olive oil until tender and still bright green.
Happy late summer seasonal cooking!