Week 18 Newsletter
Bonjour Fresh Food Fans!
It’s week 18 and it’s looking brisk out there. Our volunteers will be bouncing from foot-to-foot, rubbing hands together, and hopefully sporting lots of warm and woolen layers while telling you all about the fabulous vegetables we’ve got for you. Bring canteens full of hot tea or cocoa for them. Or at least give them hugs and frozen high-fives to let ‘em know how much you appreciate their suffering to feed you. Unless they’re at an indoor location, in which case, whatever – they’re fine!
The vegetables are donning their fall outfits as well – the harder skins of winter squash, the crispness of apples, and the heartiness of cool weather greens and brassicas. Who doesn’t adore a brassica? Those cabbages and cauliflowers are perfect for thick stews and hot comfort foods. For the first time in four years, we’ve been seeing the most amazing of all Brassicaceae – nay of all vegetables! – the lovely, the amazing, mathematically-inspiring Romanesco (also known as Romanesco Broccoli or Romanesque Cauliflower)!!! The Romanesco has been appearing in shares rather sporadically, unfortunately, but it is such a phenomenal vegetable that I simply must dedicate some column inches to it.
Romanesco, like pinecones or snowflakes or coral reefs, are a naturally occurring phenomenon with fractal features. Fractals are super cool mathematical sets that exhibit repeating patterns which display at every scale. Which means that down on the cellular level, romanesco start the pattern that builds and builds into the crystalline spiral that you see from the top. And that’s really neat!
Romanesco may look like some Fibbonacian hybrid of cauliflower and broccoli, but really they’re their own cultivar, first seen in 16th century Italy. They still taste somewhere between cauliflower and broccoli, though, and you can cook them just like that. I had one a couple of weeks ago and when I tasted it raw, it had a little bit of a bite like a radish, but cooked up much like cauliflower except way more delicious. I prefer to prepare it in an Indian style with a Madhur Jaffrey recipe I like, Cauliflower with Cumin and Asafetida. You probably don’t have asafetida lying around, however. If you do, include it, if you don’t, then just forget that part (similarly, I couldn’t find my coriander and left it out).
Cauliflower with Cumin and Asafetida from Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey.
550g head cauliflower
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Generous pinch of ground asafetida
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ medium onion, peeled and cut into very fine rings
½ fresh hot green chili, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon salt
120 ml water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Break the cauliflower into florets that are about 4 cm across at the head and 4-cm in lengths. The stem may be peeled and cut into 5mm rounds.
Put the oil in a large frying pan and set over medium high heat. When hot, put in the asafetida, then cumin seeds. Wait about 10 seconds and add the onion. Stir and fry for about 2 minutes or until the onion slices brown. Now put in the cauliflower and green chili. Turn heat down to medium and toss. Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, cayenne and salt. Toss for another minutes. Add the water and lemon juice, toss and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn heat to low and cook for 5-7 minutes or until cauliflower is just tender.
Additionally this week we’re seeing our first Buttercup squash, which I call the Princess Buttercup squash. It’s the ugly duckling of winter squash – bumpy and weird looking on the outside, but scrumdiddlyumptious on the inside. The flesh has a gorgeous deep orange color and the very best of all winter squash taste, in my very unhumble opinion. Treat it in all the usual squashy ways – baked and mashed with cinnamon or cumin, halved and stuffed with beans and rice, or skinned and chopped into soups, like the ever-popular Three Sisters Stew. Princess Buttercup will do just as you wish.
Three Sisters Stew from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair.
1 cup dried beans, soaked 6-8 hours
3 cups stock or water, divided
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or ghee
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons sea salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dry oregano
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon chili powder
2-3 cups winter squash, cut in chunks
1 14 -ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
½ cup grated cheese
Drain soaking water off beans. Place beans, 2 cups of stock or water and 1 teaspoon of cumin in a pot; bring to boil. Cover and simmer until beans are tender (50-60 minutes) or pressure-cook (45 minutes).
Heat a 4-quart pot, add oil. Add onion, salt and garlic; sauté until onion is soft (5 minutes). Add cumin, oregano, and cinnamon and chili powder and cook for about 30 seconds. Add squash and tomatoes, bring to a simmer and cook until squash is soft, (about 20 minutes). Add remaining ½-1 cup stock or water if mixture is dry. Add cooked beans and corn; simmer until corn is tender. Adjust seasoning to your taste. Serve hot with grated cheese garnish if desired.
See what else we’ve got for you this week! Share contents subject to change stop-to-stop and day-to-day.
Peace and veggies,
Anna Kiss Mauser-Martinez