The bounty of summer is upon us, and farmer’s markets (and even traditional grocery stores) will be flaunting the vibrant show of colors and flavors that mark the season. You’ll obviously want your juicy, local tomatoes and that sweet, sweet corn. But try branching out a bit, and add less traditional veggies to your plate. Here, are a few of our favorite, under-the-radar beauties.
Don’t be put off by its ugly, knobby exterior. This member of the cabbage family comes with edible leaves (add them to a salad) and its mild flavor makes it well-suited for a simple slaw or pan-roasted with other veggies like potatoes, eggplant or summer squash.
2 medium or 3 small kohlrabi
1½ to 2 ounces / 50 to 60g hard goat cheese
A few sprigs of thyme, leaves only, bruised or coarsely chopped
½ lemon Canola or extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Peel the kohlrabi and slice them into paper-thin rounds with a vegetable peeler. Divide the slices among four plates or arrange on a large platter, spreading them out and overlapping them to almost cover the surface.
Shave over some goat cheese – again, using the vegetable peeler. There’s no need to cover the kohlrabi with the cheese: 4 or 5 good shavings per plate is fine.
Sprinkle on the thyme, squeeze over a few drops of lemon juice, and trickle on a little oil. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Sure, you may already enjoy them as a salad ingredient, but radishes can do more than you realize. Of course, the simplest way to eat them is as the French do: with a little salt and butter. Divine. They also go great in a taco as an extra crunchy bite. But radishes can also be roasted with a little butter which turns them into sweet, caramelized goodness—and a great summer side.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower and Radishes with Garlic Aioli
8 ounces radishes, trimmed and quartered
8 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
12 ounces cauliflower (about ½ large head), trimmed, halved, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable or grapeseed oil, or any other oil with a high smoke point
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Garlic Aïoli for dipping (recipe follows)
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 425°F.
Mix the radishes, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower in a large bowl and toss with the oil, salt, and a generous amount of black pepper. Spread the vegetables on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 18 to 25 minutes, or until tender with blackened, crisped edges, stirring every 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the oven. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
Serve immediately with a spoonful of Garlic Aïoli for dipping.
Makes about 1 cup
This is homemade mayonnaise—with a kick of garlic. The most reliable way to make a creamy aïoli is in a small food processor, but if you don’t have one, you can use a whisk and a bowl.
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk
⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about ½ lemon)
1 tablespoon warm water
Combine the garlic, mustard, and salt together in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth, or pound to a smooth paste in a mortar and pestle. With the food processor running (or while whisking briskly by hand) beat in the egg yolk. Then slowly add ¼ cup of the oil. Add the lemon juice and the water. Add the remaining oil very slowly while whisking or processing. The mixture should emulsify and become a creamy sauce.
Taste for seasoning, and add more salt if desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The aïoli is best served within 24 hours, although it can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Forget whatever bad experience you may have had with full-size winter turnips (too often woefully overcooked), and keep an eye out for these top-of-the-summer sweet, mellow lovelies. A member of the mustard family, they have a slight peppery profile that is toned down after cooking. Eat them raw, sliced thinly in a salad, or sauté them with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. They make a perfect side dish for summer’s grilled meats.
Couscous with Vegetables
2⁄3 cup / 100 g golden raisins
Olive oil for cooking
2 small yellow onions (4¼ ounces / 120 g each), minced
Fine sea salt
2 tablespoons ras el hanout
1 pound / 450 g small waxy potatoes
1 pound / 450 g thin carrots, cut into 2-inch / 5 cm segments
7 ounces / 200 g small turnips, quartered
4 stalks celery, cut into ½-inch / 1 cm segments
2 quarts / 2 liters Vegetable Stock
1 pound / 450 g winter squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch / 2.5 cm pieces
1 pound / 450 g thin zucchini, cut into 2-inch / 5 cm segments
2 cups / 320 g cooked chickpeas (from about 2⁄3 cup / 125 g dried)
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups / 550 g whole wheat couscous
3 cups / 720 ml boiling water
1 cup / 20 g chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup / 20 g chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Harissa, homemade or store-bought
Soak the raisins in ½ cup / 120 ml hot water for 1 hour.
Heat 2 tablespoons cooking olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and ¼ teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring often to avoid coloring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the ras el hanout.
Add the potatoes, carrots, turnips, celery, and 1 teaspoon salt. Pour in the stock, cover, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes at a low simmer.
Add the winter squash and zucchini and cook until all the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in two-thirds of the chickpeas and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. (The dish may be prepared a day ahead up to this point. Cool completely, transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate. The next day, reheat to just below simmering.)
Shortly before serving, place the couscous in a large heatproof bowl. Stir in 1½ teaspoons salt and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Pour the boiling water over the couscous, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff the grains with a fork and transfer to a heated serving dish.
Combine the parsley and cilantro in a small serving bowl and place it on the table along with a bowl of the drained raisins, a bowl of the remaining chickpeas, and a ramekin of harissa. Ladle the vegetables and some of the broth onto plates of couscous and let your guests help themselves to the condiments.
Photo Credit: Ridofranz/iStock