If you take your time to browse the farmers’ markets this summer, you might see a few things you’ve never tried before. Like a knobby circle of kohlrabi, or a strange-looking lemon-shaped cucumber, or greens like watercress or Italian dandelion. Give them a shot! Make a resolution to try one new fruit or vegetable a week throughout the growing season, and see where it takes you. You never know! You might find a new favorite. Here’s a little background information on some of the more common oddities in the farmers market and a few ways to use them.
A vegetable that’s a cross between broccoli stems and tender cabbage, the kohlrabi should be peeled first and foremost. Get that tough outer layer out of the way. Then try it raw. If that taste suits you, slice it thinly and add it to salads. If not, you can roast it with potatoes and other root veggies for a sweeter flavor. Or add to an omelet, a casserole, or any other dish with a medley of vegetables.
It may look like a lemon on the outside, but it’s still a cucumber on the inside. Don’t try to squeeze juice out of this one. Add it to your cucumber and tomato salad for an unexpected color variation on a standard Southern dish.
This little green is growing in popularity. Known for its peppery flavor, watercress can punch up a salad or soup. Simply remove the thicker stems and sprinkle on top of your plate or bowl. Watercress might be best raw, but you can also add it to pizza or a hot sandwich with cheese. Treat it like peppery basil and you can’t go wrong.
Dandelion? That’s a weed! Not exactly. The leaves are similar, but this edible variety has deeper green coloring and is packed with nutrients. They can be bitter, so go carefully. Add it to fruit smoothies. Rinse, squeeze dry, then sauté with olive oil, salt, garlic, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and maybe a shot of honey to mellow the flavor. Basically, you can use Italian dandelion anywhere you might use kale.
If you’ve been eyeballing those leeks for awhile but you haven’t tried them yet, it’s time. I can understand the confusion. They look like green onions. What’s going on here? Yes, they’re related to onions and garlic, but the flavor is milder. Chop them up and add to salads and stews. Or try them in an omelet or frittata. Sauté in lemon juice and broth and serve with salmon. The possibilities are endless.