Sunday, October 26, 2008

What's In Season: Fall Vegetables

WHAT'S IN SEASON: Fall Vegetables
October 23, 2008

The season's bounty of vegetables reflects the seasonal foliage: pumpkin, yellow and orange gourds, forest green chards and kales and squashes, and deep burgundy beets, all with substantial vitamins C and A, folate, and potassium that add a rich underlying flavor to many recipes. Below, our Five Faves, but check out all the "new" this season choices.

This Asian favorite has dark green, glossy leaves and bright white stalks. Use the day you buy them or the next day for best flavor. Wash thoroughly to rid any lingering dirt, drain, then trim off the woody bottom. Cut stalks into pieces like you would celery, and serve raw in salads along with the leaves; add them to cooked grains or soups; steam the stalks briefly for about two minutes then the leaves for another two minutes and serve with a dash of soy sauce, grated ginger, and garlic.

Best when still on the stalk, this small round cabbage relative should sport a clear green color and tightly enclosed leaves. Store them for a week to 10 days in the refrigerator. To prepare, trim the ends then cut an X in the stem for thorough cooking. Steam or sauté with seasoning for a soft texture or bake them sliced in half for a crispy texture.

These look like fresh ginger, are not from Jerusalem, and un-related to artichokes yet offer a crunchy and delicate taste when raw; sweeter flavor when cooked. Should be very firm with smooth skins; use within two-three days. Trim root edges and slice (no need to peel) to serve raw in salads, cook in stir fries, or boil or steam then mash into a soup thinned slightly with broth.

This often neglected vegetable looks like a carrot but is pale beige-yellow. Avoid woody ones, and look for smooth skins. Can be refrigerated up to a week. These should be trimmed on both ends and washed thoroughly. Add to stews and soups, or roast and mash them to eat alone or with richer-tasting mashed potatoes.

This peppery delight adds piquancy to any salad and holds its own against a mélange of flavors from apples and nuts to blue cheeses and beets. These greens make a tangy salad spread whipped thoroughly with cream cheese or thick yogurt. Look for glossy, small dark green leaves; stems (deliciously edible) should be crisp, not wilted.

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