This week everyone received collardini (collard raab), bok choi, and garlic. You could choose the remainder of your share from the following: Japanese collards, Yukina savoy, mustard greens, mache, purple sprouting broccoli, beets, leeks, burdock, braising mix, spinach, nettles, cilantro, potatoes, sunchokes, cauliflower, cardoons, and lettuce.
The garlic is a variety called Music, and I think that you will find that it will sing in your dishes. Having gotten that pun out of the way, I wanted to share a interesting fact about garlic. I read a few months back that allicin, one of the healthy chemicals found in garlic, is only produced after the garlic has been chopped or minced. Once the garlic’s cells have been ruptured, an enzyme is released that converts a precursor into allicin. Besides being interesting, this fact has implications for how you cook with garlic. Mincing garlic and then immediately cooking it, denatures the enzyme and prevents the allicin from being formed (once allicin is made it is heat resistant). So if you are looking to boost the levels of allicin in your food, you should mince your garlic and then let it sit for 10 minutes before you cook with it. The enzyme will then have plenty of time to generate allicin.
The collardini are the florets of bolting collard plants and are great sauteed, braised, grilled, or roasted. See last week’s posts for recipe ideas.
These bok choi are giant with white tender leaf stalks. I separate the leaf stalk/rib from the spoon-like leaves and chop these into bite-size chunks. They should go into the sautee pan/wok a few minutes before the leaves, so they will have time to soften. Here is a sampler of ten different recipes using this vegetable. Traditionally, bok choi is cooked, but it can be eaten raw. The stems have a lovely crunch followed by sweet juice. I really like making a salad from thinly sliced bok choi and peanut sauce. The bright and creamy flavors of the sauce pair well with the texture of the bok choi. It’s also really quick to prepare! If you are looking for an adventure this week, you could try bok choi with congee, a rice porridge that is really comforting (and easy to make, though it does take some time). This recipe will get you started, but you might want to add an egg (over easy or soft boiled) to the final plate to make the meal more filling.
Finally a few of you took me up on the cardoons this week. As one of you mentioned, they look almost prehistoric with their spreading leaves and large bases. Cooking cardoons is an involved process because they require so much preparation, but you will be rewarded with a sublime eating experience. Here are few ideas for how to cook them. Try this traditional casserole with a creamy, bechamel sauce or maybe create a gratin. A simple way to eat them is to make a creamy soup with the cardoons, which is the method I prefer. My only recommendations is to change the water once while you are boiling/blanching them. The water will become dark brown as bitter compounds from the cardoons are released. Throwing out that water will help the final dish be balanced in flavor without any overpowering bitterness. You can also fry cardoons, though you still have to blanch them first.
Take care and eat well.