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obscure vegetables-- recipes

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I am a member of a CSA farm, and every year I get some obscure vegetables as part of my share.

Aside from James Peterson, Alice Waters, Bert Greene, Deborah Madison and the Moosewood folks, can anyone suggest some cookbooks with recipes for things like

jerusalem artichokes
various bok-choi type asian greens

and other obscure and otherwise not-in-supermarket type vegetables?

Any feedback on from Amaranth to Zucchini as it relates to this? $65 seems an awful lot to spend.


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  1. c

    I love Amaranth to Zucchini. It's a fantastic reference, very thorough and readable, and the recipes go from simple and straightforward to special-occasion caliber--but all doable and well written. You get first a chapter about the history of the vegetable, variations in varieties and growing areas/times. Then a discussion of the best ways to apply heat to them--microwave, boil, steam, roast, etc. After the recipes, there's a little section on what chefs do with them--usually ten or twenty ideas, all very inspiring but not very specific. Lots of fun both to read and cook with. Worth every penny. Tonight, in fact, I'm making a recipe from it: sunchokes mashed with potatoes (cut them up and steam together, then mash as usual).

    1. Last spring when I joined a CSA for the first time I bought "Vegetables Every Day" by Jack Bishop because I knew it wasn't going to be all tomatoes and lettuce. I LOVE THIS BOOK! I really do. Great info on everything about the vegetable, and every recipe I've made has been delicious. I highly recommend it.

      Link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/...

      1 Reply
      1. re: budino

        I second the recommendation for Jack Bishop's Vegetables Everyday.
        He has a section on all the obscure vegetables that you listed above.

        Link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/...

      2. My favorite book along those lines is:"Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables a Commomsense Guide" by Elizabeth Schneider, published by Harper & Row.
        She writes a very nice expostion about each fruit or vegetable and some of the recipes are excellent.

        1 Reply
        1. re: scottso

          She's also the author of From Amaranthe to Zucchini, which was a winner of both IACP and James Beard book awards this year. I second your praise for Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables, though. It's a very, very good book. Quite comprehensive and well researched.

        2. I have the Amaranth to Zucchini book and it is quite comprehensive, as it should be for such a list price!But you can get it for $42 from Jessica's Biscuit, and I imagine Amazon has a deal on it,too. And at Amazon you won't have to pay shipping. Check around before you purchase.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Marcia
            CatherineC in NYC

            Amazon has it for $42 as well. And don't forget to get to Amazon through the link on the Chowhound homepage so it helps the site!

          2. Kohlrabi is great shredded with cabbage for slaw, thinly sliced on a salad and wonderful sauteed with parsnips in a little goose/duck fat.

            1. I also suggest looking in cookbooks from places where the items are popular -

              salsify (isnt that scorzonera?) and cardoons in italy,
              kohlrabi in central europe, thailand, kashmir, etc.,soybeans and oriental greens in chinese books.

                1. I have both of the Elizabeth Schneider books and enjoy them. However, I've found that many of her recipes are better for inspiration only. I'm still happy to have the books, since the days my CSA provides me with two pounds of watercress sometimes leaves me unsure what to do.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Kaetchen

                    Make soup with that watercress, or if it still has roots, plant it or give some to a gardener or friends.

                  2. I belonged to a CSA group in the past, but found that vegetables were ruling my life. The whole pace of what we ate each week was regulated by what someone else shoved in a box!

                    However, when in doubt, I just went to www.google.com and ran a search using the clue "vegetable recipe" where "vegetable" was the name of whatever was in the box that week. I have six binders with sections from Arugula to Turnips. If anyone wants to come over, you can photocopy them!!

                    1. Thanks for all your suggestions-- I will give them a try-- esp. the Kohlrabi. I also found a "seconds" copy of Amaranth at my local used bookstore, too, so it was $30! Thanks again.

                      1. This root can stain your hands. A trick to avoid it, moisten your hands with good quality vegetable oil before handling. Drop peeled roots into acidulated water prior to cooking (if you're going to hold it for a little bit before cooking). I've blanched then sauteed it; it's also good pureed into soup, with good chicken stock or veg stock, with or without milk or cream. It's also good roasted.

                        1. Kohlrabi was grown in our northern (less than 90 frost-free days) Minnesota garden for years, and was a summer treat for my parents. After about the age of 15 I really started to like it too.

                          The preparations are relatively simple, and this can be a very tasty vegetable.

                          First of all, peel and slice on mandoline to the thinnest slices that you can make (this will not work with a knife unless you are some kind of knife pro!) The should be nearly translucent. Lay flat on a plate, sprinkle with champagne or rice wine vinegar, salt, and either white or black pepper as your taste dictates. Eat as a first course or stand-up appetizer as sort of a fresh "kohlrabi pickle"

                          Cut into a 1/2 inch dice, and simmer gently in salted water for about 10 minutes. Serve as a side vegetable with a small amount of anchovies and hard-boiled eggyolk minced together and sprinkled on top. This is especially good if you can get the truffled anchovies. Some people put butter or oil on this, but this is one instance where I feel that the added fat adds nothing!

                          My mother loved kohlrabi puree, but it brings back such bad memories that I won't talk about it. I don't think this vegetable is suitable for puree.

                          And the final, and perhaps my favorite, use for kohlrabi: peel and slice into thin strips or sticks and put it in your salad. Yum!

                          Enjoy the weirdness and oddity of this north-growing vegetable. It's hard for me to find here in California. I'm glad to hear others are paying attention to this lowly, obscure, misunderstood veggie :)

                          1. Here's a way to prepare cardoons - time consuming but worth it. (Mario rules.)

                            Link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                            1. Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book has recipes for all the vegetable's you mention but endamame. It's a British book but I think you can get it here -- I believe there was an American edition. If not, try Books for Cooks in London.

                              I blanch endamame in their shells. Once cooked you can do anything with them. I like making a multi-bean salad with a garlic mayo or eating them plain with a little sea salt.

                              Link: http://www.booksforcooks.com/

                              1. In regard to salsify (oyster plant), I can obtain it at Jungle Jim's Market in Fairfield, OH a suburb of Cincinnati. I have two cookcooks that contain a recipe each that come from Shaker Village, Pleasant Hill Kentucky. The one recipe is for a salsify casserole, and it very yummy. If you go to Shaker Village, you can eat in the restaurant there. Most of the time the casserole is served, especially in the spring and summer. In addition, I am looking for more recipes that use salsify - it's a "bugger" to prep for cooking, but oh so worth the effort.