Rediscovering the Goodness of Fresh Food
When I was a child, my parents owned a farm-to-table–style restaurant in Raleigh, North Carolina called Zely and Ritz. Through the restaurant and the partner farms I started to eat with the seasons and learned to love the intense and fresh flavors. As I grew older and started to live on my own, however, I grew away from buying fresh, local, and organic produce because of the price. Over the past few years, I have started to come back to the freshness though through my own gardens and working on farms. Since I started working on farms, I have loved going into projects finding interesting and delicious ways to use the produce. Sometimes the projects have many steps and take many hours, but some vegetables are best fresh just how they are.
I have been at Red Dog Farm now for about a month and have been able to experience a lot of different crops. First were strawberries and radishes, and for me, these are best fresh. Next up were hakurei turnips. I go back and forth with these between eating them fresh and roasting them in the oven with olive oil and fresh herbs. After hakurei turnips were fava beans, and these beans were a real labor of love, with lots of work to process to get the delicious beans, but so worth it. I made a delicious fava bean hummus with these. Sugar snap peas soon followed the fava beans. The snap peas are such an incredible snack with a great crunch and sweetness.
Now we are regularly harvesting broccoli, kohlrabi, and carrots. Broccoli and its friend broccolini are great in stir fries or just lightly steamed and pan fried with a little oil and lemon. Kohlrabi is one of my current favorites on the farm. We have two varieties: purple and green. Not many people know what to do with a whacky-looking vegetable like kohlrabi, but my two favorite ways to eat it are both fresh. I always start by peeling the skin and slicing thinly. One option is to top it with a little salt and lemon to really bring out the freshness, or, for something a little different, top with a drizzle of honey. We are currently deep in carrots on the farm, and the rejects are fair game for the workers, so we are doing a contest to see who can make the tastiest and most creative carrot-based dishes.
I am excited to see what other creations I make with the fresh food and continue to discover new fruits and vegetables and how to best prepare them over the coming months.