I have the good fortune of having a fabulous and low cost fresh fruit and vegetable market near my home once a week. Every Saturday morning, I do my best to get there by about 8am, before the crowds really hit. As I walked through a few weeks ago, I realized that supermarket shopping that I was so used to, often neutralizes food for us. It sanitizes the real plant, cutting it just so, removing leaves and flowers and roots, to make a carrot look dead or a cabbage like a bowling ball. When they do this, we miss so much! We miss not only in seeing the full plant as it was actually grown, picked or cut, but we also, frankly, get ripped off! And in these economic times, we should be making use of every delicious part of our fruits and vegetables as we can!
In purchasing my produce a little more rustic, I have been enjoying a few items that perhaps you can rediscover. These are true PovertyFood specialties and depending on where you are from you may already be familiar with them. Here are a few examples of what your grocery store should be providing. If they are not, ask the manager if they clean and prepare the produce in house. If so, take advantage of these fabulous foods that they will probably just give you for FREE!
Zucchini Blossoms: At my market they don't sell the simple zucchini. They sell it with the zucchini blossom still attached! This is amazing to me considering the zucchini blossom has become something of a delicacy that can be battered and fried as with a good Japanese tempura or eaten raw in salads and other dishes. HINT: Most squashes have edible flowers. If you are growing them, absolutely try the blossoms!
Turnip greens: If you are from the Southern part of the United States, such things as turnip greens, mustard greens, etc will be an old familiar favorite! I have recently discovered their versatility and their flavor. Turnip greens are delicious. This is PovertyFood for sure! Indeed, greens were one of the major food stuffs of the poorest of the poor in the United States, including slaves, for generations. Today, they are a standard part of Southern cooking. I ask the turnip seller at my market for an additional bag of greens that most people here discard and he gladly gives them to me for free. I cook them within 24 hours or so, as they can wilt relatively quickly. Just boil in salted water until cooked, drain and add shallots or onions that have been cooked in butter, heavy cream or cream cheese and even a few dashes of hot sauce! Delicious!
Radish leaves: Another "green" that I have discovered the savor of here in France! And in France and Belgium, radish greens make a traditional soup, "Veloute des fanes de radis", or Pureed radish greens soup. Here is the basic recipe:
Simply wash the radish leaves well and saute in butter in a large soup pot. Add 2 cut potatoes and enough water to cover. Bring to boil. When potatoes cooked, remove from heat and add salt and a little grated nutmeg and one egg yolk. Puree the mixture and serve with a little heavy cream or creme fraiche! Delicious and peppery! I guaranty it!
Send me your ideas of foods that you have rediscovered and I will feature it here on PovertyFood!