Broccoli raab

native to: originally cultivated in the Mediterranean and in China
in season here: summer
f1576_150819_raabStrip
Broccoli raab or rabe (pronounced “rob”), also called Italian turnip, broccoletti, cime di rapa, broccoli di rape, rappi, friarielli, grelos and rapini, is a lot more fun if you get it at the farmers’ market because you can get it with bright yellow flowers instead of tight broccoli-like buds. It’s not actually broccoli, it’s a closer relative of turnips and is said to taste a bit like mustard greens or kale, although a quick blanch will remove much of the bitterness. It is often steamed and served with lemon or garlic.

Broccoli raab has lots of good stuff in it: protein, vitamins A, C, E (Alpha Tocopherol), K, and B6, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, and Manganese. In fact, it’s considered a “super food” and does things like slowing aging, lowering the risk of high blood pressure, and preventing stroke, Alzheimer’s, and birth defects.

Read more:
label-style nutrition data for raw raab
label-style nutrition data for cooked raab
health benefits

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.

Orecchiette with broccoli raab

2 lb. broccoli raab (or may substitute Swiss chard)
1/2 cup olive oil (divided)
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 lb. dried (1 1/2 lb. fresh) orecchiette (or may substitute penne or other pasta), cooked and drained
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
salt and pepper to taste

Coarsely chop flowers, leaves, and smaller stems of the broccoli raab, discarding larger stems (for chard, chop the leaves and discard stems). Heat 3 Tbsp. oil over medium heat and add the garlic. Turn heat to high and add broccoli raab. Stir-fry about 5 minutes, until completely wilted. Toss raab, remaining oil, and cheese with hot pasta. Salt and pepper to taste and serve with extra cheese.

Adapted from Peterson, James, Vegetables. William Morrow, 1998. ISBN: 0688146589

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 kohlrabi

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
4 kohlrabis, leaves removed, peeled, halved, and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss kohlrabi slices in this mixture to coat. Spread kohlrabi in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 450F until browned, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and return to oven for about 5 minutes, to allow Parmesan cheese to brown.

Adapted from AllRecipes

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.

Tomatoes

native to: western South America and possibly the Galapagos Islands
in season here: late summer-fall
TomatoStrip
The specific nutrients in tomatoes vary by variety and also by season, but one of the big ones is lycopene, an antioxidant that has been linked to bone health. Surprisingly, it’s actually the orange tomatoes that are best in this case, because they proved to have a more readily absorbed kind of lycopene than red tomatoes, but they’re all good sources. Tomatoes, especially fresh ones, have also been linked to heart health, lower cholestrol levels, and decreased risk of various cancers and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s. They’re excellent sources of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and manganese, as well as some important phytonutrients. As with cucumbers, the seeds of the tomato are particularly nutritious.

All this healthiness is rather ironic, because the tomato is a member of the solanaceae family and a close relative of the nightshade or belladonna, a popular source of the poison atropine. According to popular legend, the tomato was once shunned for this connection, although there doesn’t seem to be much evidence to support the idea rather than, say, a general disinclination to grow and eat unfamiliar foods. Other members of this family are potatoes, eggplants, and chili peppers, so it’s not a generally dangerous group of plants. However, the leaves of the tomato contain high concentrations of dangerous alkaloids, so for once you really should stick to just the fruit (or, technically, berries). There is even some anecdotal evidence that avoiding tomatoes may lessen symptoms of arthritis, although this hasn’t been confirmed by any scientific studies.

Although tomatoes originated in South America, they were probably first cultivated in Mexico by the Aztecs, in the form of yellow cherry tomatoes (the name may come from the Aztec word tomatl, meaning “swelling fruit”). They hit Europe in the 1500s and spread pretty quickly for the time. Today China grows the most tomatoes. When you buy canned tomatoes, it’s a good idea to look for ones produced in the US, since the high acid content of tomatoes makes the metals in the cans more likely to be picked up by the contents (this is also why it is generally recommended to avoid cooking tomatoes in aluminum) and some countries aren’t as strict about the lead content of their containers. There has been some concern about BPA in the vinyl linings we often see in tomato cans, but recent studies have found that while there is some, the levels are very low, about 1/600 of the maximum safe level — so low, in fact, that organic tomatoes are allowed to keep that description even after being canned in a vinyl-lined container (you have to look for a “BPA-free” label to avoid it entirely).

When I was a child in Spokane, my mother always watched the fall weather forecasts closely and when the first killing frost was predicted she would strip all the tomato plants in the garden. The tomatoes that were nearly ripe would go on a sunny windowsill to ripen (more recent advice is to put them in a paper bag with a banana or apple to provide maturation-encouraging ethylene gas) and the not-a-chance green ones would be made into green tomato relish in a row of pint or jelly jars in the pantry (except for the couple of jars that didn’t seal, and there were always one or two, that had to go into the refrigerator until we used them up). She would make the relish after lunch and then we’d spend the rest of the afternoon and evening counting the pings and pops as the jars sealed, each one a tiny victory.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for raw tomatoes
Tomato Dirt has facts, recipes, and even costumes
a long and thorough article at whfoods
WebMD

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.

Green tomato relish

This is traditionally made in the fall when the first real frost is predicted and all the remaining tomatoes, ripe or not, are brought inside.

Put through a food grinder (you can use food processor but a grinder gives a more even result):
24 med. green tomatoes, cored but not peeled
2 red sweet peppers
4 green sweet peppers
8 small onions

Add:
4 Tbsp. salt

Mix well. Let stand 2 hours. Drain. Squeeze out as much water as you can.

Heat:
2 cups sugar (up to 4 cups if you like sweeter relish)
3 cups vinegar
4 Tbsp. mustard seeds
2 Tbsp. celery seeds

Add tomato mixture; boil 10 minutes. Pack boiling into hot (sterilized) jars, cap with hot (sterilized) lids, and hope they seal. Unsealed jar(s) will keep all winter if refrigerated.

Makes about 10 1/2 pints.

From: Isa Reim, as told to Dorothy Huffman in the 1970s.

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.

Tomato ketchup

4 gallons ripe tomatoes, washed and stemmed
2 onions, washed and papery outer layers removed
5 stalks celery, washed
2 green sweet peppers, washed and stemmed
3 cups granulated sugar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. ground gloves
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp. salt

Cook tomatoes, onions, celery and peppers together until soft and mushy. Force through a food press or very fine strainer into a soup kettle and add the remaining ingredients. Boil 10 minutes. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal. Makes about 6 Pints.

Source unknown.

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.

Blackberry catsup

2 lb. blackberries, washed and picked over (may sub. combo of blackberries and elderberries or black currants and apple)
3 cup chopped onion
1.25 cup white malt vinegar
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 1/3 cup light brown sugar

Place the onion in a fairly large saucepan with the vinegar and cook 5 min. Add remaining ingredients and cook 30 min. Allow to cool slightly before blending. Sieve the puree to remove seeds. Pour into sterilized bottles.

May be served with pork chops, duck, turkey, barbecued meats.

Adapted from Fruit fandango / Moya Clarke. Chartwell Books, c1994.

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.