Happy 4th of July!! I am actually down in Oregon for a short family visit, but it seems as though the weather has been just as warm in Palmer as here in the High Desert. I’ll admit it’s kind of lovely to be able to sit in the shade and not be out in the sun all day, but I’m sure you are all enjoying some gorgeous summer weather.
This week brings us more of our “early” roots, and perhaps the last we will see for a while as they are not great mid-summer crops. Our early cucumbers are setting with many more to come, and we are chasing the Napa cabbage and spinach and broccoli raab as they try to bolt faster than we can harvest them!
The Rainbow Chard is a tasty green, very similar to spinach in how it cooks down. I usually strip the leaves from those pretty stems and toss the chopped stems in first, giving them a chance to soften before adding the chopped leaves. Napa or Chinese cabbage is a classic kim chee option, but also great for either a fresh cole slaw or stir fried alone or in fried rice. Broccoli raab has a very distinctive flavor when raw and is a classic Italian favorite, usually sautéed with garlic and tossed with pasta and parmesan. We have all fallen in love with it roasted in the oven, though, where its flavor changes quite a bit and it is reminiscent of roasted asparagus. I wish we had more this spring but it did not appreciate being planted out into Solstice, so we’ll have to wait and hope for a good Fall crop.
Rhubarb is higher in Vitamin C by weight than oranges and is much more versatile than the pies and crisps it is usually associated with. With its tangy notes, rhubarb can be added to savory dishes as well as being made into syrup for drinks or juiced. It is also very easy to freeze for use on dark winter nights. Simply chop into 1” pieces, drop into boiling water for a minute, then remove and run under cold water before placing into ziplock bags and into the freezer.
Radishes, too, are much more versatile than the salad fixings they are usually relegated to. Try cooking your radishes or turnips in a quick stir-fry or roasting for a treat. The radishes in particular add a nice crunch and lose any heat they might have when cooked. So far the radishes I have sampled (and I do quite a bit of sampling….) have remained sweet and crisp, but this time of year and especially with this heat they can pack a sneaky bit of heat!
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Napa Cabbage Napa Cabbage
Rainbow Chard Rainbow Chard
Hakurei Turnips Hakurei Turnips
Lettuce – Red Salad Bowl Lettuce – Red Salad Bowl
Spinach Thyme Plant
Tangy Rhubarb Salsa
2 cups thinly sliced rhubarb
1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped - or to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 roma (plum) tomatoes, finely diced
2 teaspoons brown sugar
5 tablespoons Key lime juice
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 pinch garlic powder, or to taste
ground black pepper to taste
Stir rhubarb into a large pot of boiling water and cook for 10 seconds. Quickly drain rhubarb and rinse with cold water until cool; transfer rhubarb to a large bowl.
Place red onion, green, red, and yellow bell peppers, jalapeno pepper, and cilantro into a food processor and pulse 3 or 4 times to finely chop; transfer pepper mixture to bowl with rhubarb. Stir in roma tomatoes.
Dissolve brown sugar in Key lime juice in a bowl; lightly stir lime juice mixture into rhubarb mixture. Sprinkle salsa with salt, garlic powder, and black pepper and stir salsa again. Refrigerate at least 3 hours to blend flavors.
Strawberry Rhubarb Syrup
1 cup chopped rhubarb
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 cup water
½ cup sugar (1 cup if you prefer sweeter)
Combine fruit, sugar and water in saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and strain juice into container through a fine sieve. Discard fruit. Allow juice to cool and store in airtight container in fridge for up to a week. Use in drinks, with lemonade, or on ice cream or desert.
Sauteed Radishes (or Turnips!)
1 tablespoon butter
1 bunch radishes, ends trimmed and radishes cut in half or quarters
salt and ground black pepper to taste
Heat butter in a skillet over low heat; arrange radishes, cut side-down, in the melted butter. Season with salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until radishes are browned and softened, about 10 minutes.
Roasted Radishes (or Turnips)
1 bunches radishes, trimmed
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground thyme
salt to taste
1/2 lemon, juiced
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Cut radishes into halves; cut any large radishes into quarters. Stir olive oil and thyme together in a bowl and toss radishes in mixture to coat. Spread radishes onto prepared baking sheet; sprinkle with salt.
Roast in the preheated oven until tender but firm in the centers, tossing every 5 minutes, 20 to 30 minutes. Drizzle with lemon juice.