Monday, January 31, 2011

Vegetable Adventures

Since moving to Alaska, Adam & I have embarked on our very own vegetable adventures! It started when we were visiting the Farmers Market once a week and got to see all the mounds of fresh produce. One week we caught a glimpse of a vegetable we'd never seen before - Romanesco.
A close-up of our Romanesco.

It looked like something from another planet, or from the ocean floor. We couldn't help staring and when the farmer noticed she explained to us that it was a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower. It's fractal nature reminded me of coral and when I investigated further I found that it is sometimes called coral broccoli, but then again it's also called summer cauliflower. It seems as if this unusual vegetable defies categorization. It was almost too pretty to eat, but not quite! We steamed the Romanesco, much like you would steam broccoli, but I have since found recipes that suggest roasting with oil and others for Romanesco & Parmesan puree. If we find it again, we will definitely try out some more recipes!

Root vegetable medley.
Our next vegetable adventures were root vegetables - Rainbow Carrots, Candy Cane Beets, Turnips and Parsnips. The rainbow carrots were really pretty, but once peeled they lost their bright colors and were mostly orange. The candy cane beets were small, but really fun looking when sliced. They indeed looked like they had peppermint stripes. The parsnip and turnip don't look very exciting but make up for that in taste. We chopped all our vegetables, tossed them in olive oil and fresh rosemary and roasted them. It made a fun and healthy side dish.

After the Farmers Market closed, we had more limited access to fresh local produce so Adam and I decided to focus on those vegetables we could get in the supermarket. We both love mushrooms and went on a Cremini mushroom binge. This reminded Adam of how much he wants to be able to harvest wild mushrooms. There are a number of mushrooms native to Alaska - gilled mushrooms, shelf mushrooms, teeth mushrooms, coral mushrooms, puffballs, morels, and false morels. Lucky for Adam, Santa brought him a book on how to identify mushrooms in the wild!

Mussels, clams and shallots in a white wine sauce.
Lately we've transitioned from using onions in our recipes, which I like when sauteed but Adam does not, to using shallots. Although they are a variety of onion, they have a much more interesting flavor. They are sweeter and not as strong tasting as onions. We've used them in preparing moose roast as well as in a seafood dish. It's nice to find a delicious 'compromise' vegetable.

It's nice to have a partner who's open to trying new things! We've enjoyed these epicurean adventures and I know we'll have many more.

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