Garlic scape and almond pesto

10 garlic scapes, finely chopped
1/3 to 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1/3 cup slivered almonds
About 1/2 cup olive oil
Sea salt to taste

Process the scapes, 1/3 cup of the cheese, almonds and half the olive oil in a food processor until chopped and blended. Add the remainder of the oil and more cheese to reach desired texture; add salt.

To store, press a piece of plastic against the surface to keep it from oxidizing. The pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days or packed airtight and frozen for a couple of months.

Makes about 1 cup.

From: In the kitchen and on the Road with Dorie Greenspan

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Romanesco

native to: first bred in Italy
in season here: late June-August
RomanescoStrip
Romanesco has a number of names, mostly because no one can decide exactly what it’s the “romanesque” version of. Here in the Northwest it is most often considered a kind of cauliflower, although some consider it broccoli. The French name translates as “romanesque cabbage” and it is a relative of both cabbage and Brussels sprouts as well as broccoli and cauliflower. Other names are minaret broccoli, coral broccoli, and turret cauliflower. Before reading the sign on its basket, most of us call it some version of “that weird neon-green fractal veggie” and I understand children often call it “Christmas trees.” What it all comes down to, though, is that this stuff’s got eye appeal.

When it comes to nutrition, romanesco is similar to cauliflower, being rich in vitamins C and K, but it has more carotene and mineral salts while being not quite as good a source of fiber. It is considered to be one of the most easily digested vegetables and is a good source of zinc. This last little detail means it’s useful for people who are losing their sense of taste (for food, I mean; it doesn’t seem to help those developing a sudden interest in umbrella hats, platform sneakers, and granny-square vests) or are troubled with a metallic aftertaste.

You can use romanesco in just about any recipe for cauliflower, although its slightly nutty flavor will change the taste of the dish a little.

Read more:
Wikipedia
5-a-day
Bonduelle

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Roasted Romanesco

1 large head romanesco, trimmed and cut into large florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, or to taste

Toss romanesco with oil, salt, and pepper, and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast at 450° about 20 minutes, turning halfway through, until golden and tender. Makes about 4 servings in about 30 minutes.

Adapted from myrecipes.com

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Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Cherries

native to: Eastern Europe and Asia Minor
in season here: June
CherryStripWhile we’re on the subject of fruit, let’s take a look at another harbinger of summer. Cherries are drupes, fruit with stones or pits rather than seeds, and are related to other small tree fruits such as plums, peaches, and apricots.

Cherries are rich in anthocyanin glycosides, which act as anti-inflammatories against things like gout, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and even sports injuries. Research on tart cherries has shown them to be useful against cancers, aging and neurological diseases, and pre-diabetes.

Then there’s the vitamin C that we tend to expect from fruit — a cup of raw sweet cherries will give you 10.8 mg of the stuff, as well as some beta-carotene and vitamins K, B-6, and A. There’s also a pretty good dose of potassium in there, along with some copper, manganese, magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc. They also contain phytosterols, which help lower “bad” cholesterol.

Cherries are one of the very few food sources of melatonin, which is calming and useful against nervous disorders, insomnia, and our old friend the tension headache.

Read more:
Label-style nutrition information for sweet cherries
Label-style nutrition information for tart (pie) cherries
nutrition-and-you.com

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Strawberries

native to: Europe and South America
in season here: June-early July
StrawberryStrip
Strawberries are a huge source of antioxidants, but when they’re stored for more than a couple of days they lose a significant amount of their polyphenols and vitamin C. Therefore, strawberries sold at a farmers’ market or farm stand are actually better for you than the ones at the grocery store (as well as being the small, flavorful kind instead of those huge hollow things). Strawberries also provide lots of B vitamins, which help metabolize carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and various minerals.

Researchers have also been looking at strawberries’ impact on blood sugar. The latest news from that direction is that strawberries can actually reduce blood sugar spikes from other foods eaten with them (so if you want whipped cream on your berries, go ahead, you’re covered). Strawberries have anti-inflammatory properties from their wonderful combination of phytonutrients, if you eat them often enough. They’ve also been linked to cardiovascular health, anti-aging benefits, and the prevention of cancer and neurological disease.

Strawberries have been cultivated for 300 years, but we were already eating tiny wild strawberries a couple of millennia ago. Today it’s the most popular berry in the world, unless you want to get technical and call bananas berries and strawberries “accessory fruits.”

If you need to store strawberries, they’ll do best in a cold, humid place such as a sealed container in the fridge, but make sure they’re not actually wet. The best thing to do is wait until you’re ready to use them to wash them, but if you like having a bowl of washed and hulled berries ready for snacking, try leaving them cut-side down on a towel to dry before boxing up the remaining few for the fridge or freeze them on a cookie sheet (bag them up once they’re frozen, of course).

The best way to serve strawberries? Once you’re through snacking on them plain, I recommend making a sauce by coarsely squishing about half of them and slicing any of the remaining berries that seem too big, adding a little sugar or honey if it seems to need it, and serving it over vanilla ice cream (but not too much, or you might run out of berries and be left with boring old ice cream).

Read more:
label-style nutrition data
lots of details, including a caution about oxalates for certain health conditions

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Carrots

native to: central Asia, Middle East, and southern Europe
in season here: late spring-fall
F1320_carrotstrip_26May15
Carrots are famous for beta-carotene, which was named for them, but lately researchers have been looking at polyacetylenes. This is a phytonutrient found in carrots that inhibits the growth of colon cancer. On top of that, there’s the array of more traditional vitamins and minerals: thiamin, niacin, vitamin A, C, K, and B6; potassium, folate, and manganese.

Carrots are related to parsnips, fennel, parsley, celery, anise, caraway, cumin, and dill. The orange carrots we know are actually fairly recent arrivals; although they’ve been widely cultivated for thousands of years, they only came in purple, yellow, and red until sometime around the 16th century, which is also about the time they were brought to North America.

Carrots are on the sugary end of the vegetable spectrum and can be used as a mild sweetener in things like spaghetti sauce, tuna salad, and of course carrot cake. A medieval candy recipe involves cooking grated carrots, squeezing out all the liquid, and mixing the pulp with honey.

If you need to store carrots for any length of time, keep them moist and remove the greens. Although the greens have never caught on as a vegetable in their own right, they are edible. Snip them up to sprinkle over a salad or garnish carrot soup. Let your kids nibble on them to shock the neighbors. I ate carrot tops as a kid, and I turned out just … well, the point is, nice pesticide-free carrot tops are fine to eat. If you have a carrot-top eater in the family, tell ’em from me to go for it, the world needs more originality!

Read more:
label-style nutrition information
whfoods.com

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.