Monday, March 9, 2009

forgotten vegetables:

Celariac root, jerusalem artichoke, dandelion greens, tatsoi, rapini- those weird vegetables you pass by at the farmer's market every week. Don't cast them aside just because they don't show up in cookbooks. How do I cut it open? Is the skin edible? What the heck does it taste like? And why is it called a Jerusalem Artichoke? Google it! The answers are all there...

Rapini is maybe a better known vegetable, but one I always forget about. Is it broccoli? Is it spinach? Anyway, here's a recipe from Vegetarian times I made the other night; it's super simple, with minimal ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.

Rapini with Beans and Cherry Tomatoes

1 bunch rapini, washed and coarsely chopped
olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup cooked navy beans or white kidney beans (aka cannellini beans)
Parmesan to taste
salt and pepper
Cook the beans (or use canned). Heat the olive oil in a big pan (I used my wok). Add garlic, cook for 30 sec. Add the rapini before the garlic starts to burn. Saute for 5-7 minutes, until the rapini is cooked. Set aside on plate. Add more olive oil to the hot pan, then add cherry tomatoes and saute until blistering. Add beans, cook for 2 or 3 more minutes until the beans are heated. Season with salt and pepper. Pile (nicely) on top of the rapini. Grate lots of cheese on top! Or, sprinkle with tasty bread crumbs for a vegan version.

I ate this along with some delicious maple-soy glazed mackerel, and it was the tastiest (and prettiest) meal I've had in a long time. Speaking of mackerel, I've started eating fish in the past month, after reading Tars Grescoe's Bottomfeeder. It's a very interesting book about the state of the world's fisheries. You would think that after reading about cyanide bombs in coral reefs and collapsing fishery dates set for 2050, I would have no interest in fish whatsoever. But ever since I went vegetarian, I've been craving seafood, sneaking in some smoked salmon at a party once a year, maybe some cocktail shrimp at a free function.
However, after reading Bottomfeeder, I've decide to be educated in my fish choices and go for it once or twice a month. Never again will I fall for Atlantic smoked salmon or cocktail shrimp, which might as well be the factory farmed meat of the sea. Atlantic Salmon is raised in environmentally disastrous fish farms, and most shrimp come from chemical filled in-land ponds in India or the Philippines, which are responsible for poisoning local food sources and clear-cutting mangrove forests. Instead, I'm sticking to fish closer to the bottom of the food chain, such as mackerel, a fish that matures in only 2 years (versus some large fish that can take 10-20 years). It also comes from nearby - there's a large mackerel population that spawns in the St. Lawrence. Check out the book for more information, or websites like Sea Choice or Seafood Watch to find out what fish are an ethical and environmental choice. Here's a tasty mackerel recipe!

Maple-soy glazed Mackerel

1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup soy sauce (tamari for the gluten-free)
1/8 cup red wine

Preheat oven to broil. Combine all 4 ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, then turn down to medium heat. Simmer for 7 or 8 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to about a 1/4 cup of thick glaze. Set 2 mackerel fillets in on some foil in a baking pan, skin side down. Brush 1/3 of the glaze on fish, then broil for 2 minutes. Remove fish, brush another 1/3 of glaze on, then broil for 1 more minute. Repeat once more (for a total of 4 minutes cooking time, using up all the glaze). Eat! This glaze can turn any food into amazingness. I tried in on broiled tempeh this week. 

PS. Almost planting time! I'm starting off my tomato and squash seedlings next weekend!

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