Monday, April 1, 2013

Kale Daikon on Hiatus; Exciting Winter Veg Discoveries

Dear vegetable loverz,

You may have noticed a very long, wintry pause in the vegetable rumblings of this site. This is just to say that Kale Daikon is still at large, indulging in and thinking about the wide world of weird vegetables. At the same time, she has been thrashing about in the undertow of various other pursuits for the past several months (teaching, writing, translating, bouncing between apartments in an increasingly crazy S.F. Bay Area housing market), so her blogging activities have come to a stand-still for the moment.

We look to her valiant sometime co-blogger Eggplant Kohlrabi to come to the rescue, with a new series of vegetable musings, beginning with a very exciting interview with one of the vegetable world's preeminent stars, coming soon.

In the meantime, I leave you with some beautiful root vegetables to salute the end of winter, in this rainy interim while we notice the wind-blown blossoms and inhale the bewitching scents of spring.

To the right, above, are butternut squash, green-tinged celeriac (celery root), normal onion and the flatter, slightly sweeter cippolini onion, a regal Scarlet Queen hot pink turnip, an orange-purple rutabaga, and special apples whose names I forgot (vegetable names make a deeper impression on this mind, it seems).

The Scarlet Queen turnip was one of my most exciting winter finds at the Tuesday afternoon Berkeley Farmers' market. It comes from Riverdog Farm, which quickly became my market favorite for tasty, reasonably priced root vegetables. Turnips aren't normally my, er, cup of tea, but these were so crispy and fresh, with a barely discernible sweetness, almost like jicama (which I just discovered is also known as Mexican turnip, whoa), that I found I was eating them immediately after slicing. I also put them in salads because it seemed a shame to cook out the freshness and flavor. I did cube them once for inclusion in a winter vegetable lasagna that was a highly pleasing root veg carnival.

But my absolute favorite new weird vegetable discovery of the season came from Full Belly, at whose stand I tend to be careful about what I pick up because they are very $$$, the Porsche of market produce, but I nearly fainted with delight after trying their Karinata Kale, an out-of-this world (for kale lovers) mix of Red Russian Kale (lacy, gray-green, purple-tinged leaves) and Red Mustard. I almost never eat kale raw, even though it is my favorite vegetable, mostly because I find its leaves too tough for chewing, but this kale is so tender, so flavorful and with a mild mustard-green kick, that I found myself tearing off huge pieces and stuffing them into my mouth like a feverish rabbit that had suddenly awoken to find it had opposable thumbs.

 Big-time yum. The only drawback is that this kale is very very hard to find and sells out in the first couple hours of the market, so you have to be semi-unemployed or have an unconventional work schedule to get them in that 2-4pm Tuesday market window. Here is a fuller description, plus pesto recipe from Full Belly.
So purple-green and delicate, it could almost pass for shiso!

May your winter-into-spring bring more exciting weird vegetable treasures. I will be on WV hiatus through May but until then, look out for some new posts by my partner in crime, Eggplant Kohlrabi, also known by her initials "eek."

Karinata Kale Kisses,
Kale Daikon

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