Romanesco and Celeriac: Our CSA Education Continues
Remember all those veggies we got in our CSA box last week? I am proud to say that by Friday afternoon, when BabyC and I headed out to pick up this week’s share, our fridge was empty. Yup, we managed to eat just about all of last week’s share. Only a few radishes and half a carrot remained, plus the Delicata squash that I was intentionally holding over since it should keep.
I tried a few new recipes in my efforts to include the bounty in our meals. I rely heavily on Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, especially for working with veggies that are new to me. His book has an alphabetized vegetable section with guidelines on storing and preparing each one, complete with recipe suggestions. His recipes are simple and highlight the flavors of the vegetables. To be honest, I’m not always blown away by the results, but I like the simplicity of this book and have found it to be a good place to start.
Some of the new recipes I tried this week:
Roast Chicken with Fennel – super easy and economical, and the flavors of the chicken and fennel mixed nicely.
Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad from How to Cook Everything (you can’t go wrong with roasted beets)
Spicy No-mayo Coleslaw with Napa cabbage, carrots, and red peppers
Creamy Broccoli Soup (with broccoli from our own garden plus the romanesco from the CSA – see below if romanesco is new to you, as it was to me)
Homemade pizza with bell peppers and mushrooms using my friend Serena’s pizza sauce recipe, which is delicious. I bought a pizza stone and pizza peel this week, and I think I’m getting the hang of homemade pizza. It still takes some time but is worth the effort – much tastier than frozen pizza, cheaper than delivery, and healthier than both! I made a huge batch of the sauce and froze it in pie-size portions, so that will be a time-saver in the future.
Beef stir fry with pac choi, red peppers, and cauliflower
The collard greens I simply boiled, Southern-style, the way my sister-in-law taught me.
I have already been introduced to a couple of new vegetables in the last couple of weeks.
Romanesco is one of the coolest-looking vegetables you will ever meet. Also called Roman cauliflower, it is a close relative of our more familiar cauliflower. This is how the Wikipedia article describes its appearance (no point in trying to paraphrase this one):
“Romanesco broccoli resembles a cauliflower, but is of a light green color and the inflorescence (the bud) has an approximate self-similar character, with the branched meristems making a logarithmic spiral. In this sense the broccoli’s shape approximates a natural fractal; each bud is composed of a series of smaller buds, all arranged in yet another logarithmic spiral. This self-similar pattern continues at several smaller levels.”
Not sure what that means? Yeah, me neither. But check out the picture, and I think you’ll get an idea of what a “logarithmic spiral” looks like:
Cool, huh? I found the taste of romanesco to be mild and creamy, so it worked well in the cream of broccoli soup. The mixture of the two vegetables made the flavor more complex and the texture more interesting.
And this week, we got celeriac in our box. This vegetable was totally new to me. Celeriac, also known as celery root, is a root vegetable related to the common celery that we know and love. It is grown specifically for the root – the above-ground stalks are not usually eaten.
This NPR article calls it “the unsung frog prince of winter vegetables” and includes several delicious-looking recipes. The taste will certainly remind you of celery, but the texture is creamy. From a nutritional standpoint, celeriac differs from other root vegetables in that it has very little starch. For example, 100 grams of cooked celeriac (about 2/3 cup) has 27 kcal and 5.9 grams carbohydrate, while the same amount of cooked potatoes has 86 kcal and 20 grams of carbohydrates (mostly as starch).
I fixed the celeriac last night and loved it. I peeled it, cut it into 2-inch chunks, and then boiled it with a roughly equal amount of potatoes. Once tender, I drained the pot and mashed them together with a potato masher. I added a little butter, warm milk, and salt and pepper to taste – just like mashed potatoes, but tastier! I served a slow cooker beef stew over the mashed celeriac and potatoes. This was a hearty, tummy-warming meal, a perfect end to a cold and rainy day here in Eugene. The best part? BabyC LOVED this meal, which warmed my heart given her recent pickiness about food.
I’m having fun with our CSA bounty, but I’m looking for more inspiration, and I think I need to invest in a couple more cookbooks.
What are your favorite cookbooks or websites for finding new recipes?