Produce report: June 5
At this time of year root vegetables really come into their own as summer’s salad greens become too expensive or too unsubstantial. It’s time to turn the spotlight on carrots, parsnips and the plainly ignored swede which is an excellent buy now. Beetroots, including those golden ones, are generally in shorter supply until November but they are affordable and worth their place in the trolley this week. And then there’s kohlrabi from your local farmers’ market.
Available in limited quantities from now until August, kohlrabi is actually not a root vegetable but looks like one, with a turnip-like stem that grows above the ground. The bulb tastes like a sweeter, crunchy cabbage heart that’s good in remoulades or coleslaws and it is good peeled and roasted or mashed too.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall from River Cottage says thinly sliced, the bulb also makes a very good gratin dauphinoise in place of potato. And it is packed with vitamin C. The leaves can be used too, like kale or cabbage. Choose kohlrabi about the size of a tennis ball to ensure it won’t be woody and store in a plastic bag in the fridge for about a week.
Like kohlrabi, swedes make great stand-ins for the spud and can be cooked (they simply love butter) in the same way as potatoes. For more inspiration, see Jan Bilton’s chilli roasted swede.
Also called rutabaga, or neep in Scotland, the swede is a brassica, a hybrid between a turnip and a type of cabbage which was developed in Sweden in the 17th century. Indeed, swedes are often confused with their all-white ancestor but are sweeter and drier than turnips and are purple-green at the top, cream at the bottom and yellowish inside. The leaves are eaten in many countries, however not so much in New Zealand.
Swedes can be eaten raw if fresh and young when they won’t even need to be peeled. Choose firm, small ones, the size of a cricket ball. Swedes work well in soups, stews or braises. Partner with nutmeg, parsley, coriander and black pepper.
Mashed swede keeps and reheats very well, even after being stored in the fridge for a day or two.
Include celeriac and fennel in your winter repertoire too. Try them in a super tasty, super nutritious raw vegetable salad along with carrot, brussels sprouts (good buying) and red cabbage, nuts and seeds with some zing from limes (another pick of the week). See Kathy Paterson’s raw vegetable salad with yoghurt dressing.
When you are making wintry desserts, remember rhubarb is waiting. But not for long. While available all year, it is less seen in July and August.
Imported pineapples are cheap if you feel like a change …