Spring Vegetables and Side Dishes

Spring Vegetables and Side Dishes

The snow has turned to mud, and then the mud turns to humus. The air is heavy all around, expectant—pregnant with spring. We feel the sun’s warmth on our skin, we breathe in the fresh, clean air, and before we know it, the gray of winter recedes and bright shades of emerald green burst forth. New grass trembles under the wind’s flow. The days grow longer. Springtime invites us to connect with the land on which we live and eating locally is healthy for not only us but the environment too.

We souls of Northern latitudes celebrate all spring’s fair flavors. If you visit any farmer’s market in the early springtime, you will be struck by the abundance of fresh turnips, chard, spinach, green onions and leeks, dandelion, foraged wild ramps, bulbs of fennel, radishes, mushrooms, and very soon asparagus, new potatoes, and rhubarb.

Today, I want to concentrate on Hakurei turnips and Ruby chard.

Beautiful Hakurei turnips---sold by the bunch.

Beautiful Hakurei turnips—sold by the bunch.

Hakurei Turnips

Hakurei turnips are a small, delicately flavored Japanese variety of turnip. Their flavor is sweet and fruity and the texture is crisp and tender. While they are good raw sprinkled with sea salt, they are also delicious served slightly cooked, arranged in a serving dish, and sprinkled with a simple vinaigrette and freshly snipped chives.  And don’t forget about those Hakurei turnip greens!  I have also included my recipe—“Turnips Greens in Coconut-Peanut Sauce”.

Bunches of ruby chard at my local farmer's market

Bunches of ruby chard at my local farmer’s market

Ruby Chard

If you like spinach and beets, you’ll adore ruby chard! It is a vegetable with fleshy stalks (resembling flattened celery stalks) and vivid scarlet leaves resembling spinach, but considerably wider and usually quite flat. The taste is rather mild. The two parts are generally cooked separately, but I have chosen to cook them together here and I serve with a sauce—a kind of hollandaise with a hint of orange.

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: BLOG RECIPE-2017-Warm Hakurei Turnips with Vinaigrette

Signature Offering by Annette O. Corona – All Rights Reserved

Warm Hakurei Turnips with Vinaigrette
Makes 6 servings

Hakurei turnips are often used raw in salads, yet they are delicious cooked, too. Cooking accentuates their unique flavor—perfect with your Easter ham, veal, chicken or vegetarian dishes.

12 small Hakurei turnips (about 3 pounds), trimmed and halved
2 hard-cooked eggs
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½-teaspoon each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives

  1. Put the turnips in a medium-size saucepan, cover with cold water, and add a pinch of sea salt; bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook the turnips for about 5 minutes until just tender.
  2. Drain the turnips in a colander, and then lay on a kitchen towel and gently press to remove any liquid; Arrange the turnips in an oblong serving dish and keep warm.
  3. In a small bowl, mash the hard-cooked egg yolks and mustard to form a paste; add the salt, black pepper, and vinegar, stirring until smooth; slowly whisk in the olive oil to make a creamy vinaigrette; pour the vinaigrette over top while the turnips are still warm; chop the egg whites and sprinkle over the turnips along with the chives and serve.

***This dish is also delicious served room temperature, so it is perfect for a buffet table.

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: BLOG RECIPE 2017 Hakurei Turnip Greens with Coconut-Peanut Sauce

Signature Offering by Annette O. Corona – All Rights Reserved

Hakurei Turnip Greens in Coconut-Peanut Sauce
Makes 4 servings

A perfect combination— Hakurei turnips greens plus the creamy sweetness of the coconut milk, the heat of the chile pepper, and the meaty flavor of the peanuts gives these greens unusual depth.  I am sure this will become a favorite side dish on your table! 

NOTE: In this recipe, strip the turnip greens off the stems and rinse with cold water before using; discard the stems.

2 pounds Hakurei turnip greens, stripped off the stems and rinsed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 onion, diced
½ hot chile pepper (or more), such as jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
½-cup roasted peanuts, finely crushed

  1. Cut the turnip greens into fine slivers.
  2. In a large uncovered casserole pan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onion and chile pepper; sauté about 3 minutes, just until the vegetables are soft.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high, and stir in the turnip greens, adding them gradually until they are reduced enough to fit into the pan
  4. Add the coconut milk and peanuts, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently, partially covered, until the greens are soft and velvety, and the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes. Serve hot.

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: BLOG RECIPE 2017-Ruby Chard with Orange Sauce

Signature Offering by Annette O. Corona – All Rights Reserved

Ruby Chard with Orange Sauce
Makes about 6 servings

I introduced ruby chard in this way to many people, especially when I catered events.  It was always a big hit. This is a very versatile recipe—in the spring feel free to substitute asparagus spears, baby leeks, or thick strips of cooked carrots for variation. Tuck the sauce recipe away, because it can be used year-round and is delicious on steamed broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, or even Brussels sprouts.

Note that this sauce is a kind of hollandaise and needs gentle treatment, but is not at all difficult to make.  If it gets too thick, remove the pan from the heat and plunge the base into cold water to prevent the sauce from curdling. The sauce will keep for about 1 hour over hot water, but never let the sauce get too hot.

¾-cup unsalted butter, diced
3 extra-large egg yolks
1 tablespoon cold water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
½-teaspoon sea salt
Cayenne pepper to taste
2 pounds ruby chard; leaves torn from stems and chopped; stems chopped into 1-inch pieces

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat; skim off any foam and set aside.
  2. In a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water (or in the top of a double boiler), whisk together the egg yolks, water, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon orange juice; whisking constantly over low heat, when the mixture begins to thicken and the whisk leaves tracks on the bottom of the pan, remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Whisk in the melted butter a few drops at a time until the sauce starts to thicken, then pour it in a little faster, leaving behind any (milky) solids at the bottom of that pan.
  4. Whisk in the orange rind (reserving about a tablespoon for garnishing) and about a tablespoon at a time of the remaining orange juice until gone; whisk in the salt and season with cayenne to taste. Keep the sauce warm over a pan of hot water, stirring occasionally.
  5. To prepare the chard; fill a saucepan with about 2 inches of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the chard stems and boil about 3 minutes; reduce the heat to medium, add the chard leaves, and simmer another 5 minutes or until just tender.
  6. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chard from the saucepan, and lay on a paper towel to drain and then pat dry with another paper towel. Arrange the chard on a serving platter and spoon over a little sauce. Scatter the chard with orange zest and serve at once.
Yellow Swiss Chard

Yellow Swiss Chard

NOTE: Like beets, ruby chard “bleeds” red a bit—something to keep in mind when preparing and serving. Feel free to use yellow or silver varieties of chard in place of the ruby chard in this recipe.


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