The thing I missed most while I was in India was simply done vegetables. They had some vegetables, like potatoes, cauliflower, and tomatoes but they were smothered in ghee and cooked down so much they hardly resembled their original form, which means most of the nutrients that are not heat stabile are now gone and you’ll most likely end up ordering more food because there is no fiber in sight (or in your belly). India is a poor country and not just in the monetary sense of the word but vegetation wise as well. There are areas of the country that have extremely rich soil and other areas that are lacking. For us an apple for one person is no big deal- not in India. Due to the economy and the vegetation, each fruit or vegetable needs to be spread among a few people so what you’re left with is seriously ghee-ed up, slow cooked vegetables that are really sauces and chutneys that act as flavor contributors and dressings to the protein in the meal, which is usually lentils (dahl), chickpeas (chana) or cheese (paneer).
Being back in my kitchen at home I really just have been eating as many raw or simply roasted vegetables and fruits that I can get my hands on. Nothing fancy, definitely nothing spicy, and I couldn’t be happier. Our summer CSA is in its 4th week now and we’ve been getting some great vegetables and fruits. So instead of using the garlic scapes in a pesto and the kohlrabi in a cole slaw I simply roasted them both. Fast-forward 5 minutes after they were done and the plate was empty. The great thing about both of these vegetables is that you can enjoy them raw or roasted- they are completely edible from head-to-toe.
Garlic scapes are the shoots that poke out and curl into tendrils as the garlic bulb is growing underground. They are long, thin and pliable. Raw, the scape is great for pesto, salads and garnishes because it inhabits a light and fresh flavor instead of a pervasive and overly pungent flavor that garlic has. Roasted with some olive oil and salt and pepper gives the scape a flavor mixture resembling roasted garlic, roasted onions and roasted asparagus- in short, pretty amazing. When roasting them, discard the small bulbs and ends, just drizzle a teaspoon or two of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly. Lay them flat on a foil lined baking sheet and broil on 550 degrees for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, or until they start to brown.
Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family and is often referred to as a cabbage turnip. It can range in size from a golf ball up to big grapefruits, with its skin being green or purple. I recommend always peeling it, even though the smaller sizes don’t really need it, and always remove the stems and leaves. When its sliced thinly and eaten raw it resembles the flavor of a mild radish or even a less crunchy jicama. It’s a great portal for hummus or salsa and delicious when tossed into a mango and zucchini salad. When its roasted in chunks it tastes just like a sweeter yet slightly piquant turnip. Kohlrabi is so low in calories (only 19 calories in a half a cup of raw slices), high in dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin A, folic acid and calcium. When roasting, if you cut them into ½-1 inch chunks and toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper they will take about 25 minutes on 400 degrees, turning every 5-7 minutes. Just cook them until they are soft.
These are two great early summer vegetables that are great to grill for a roasted mixed vegetable salad with grilled corn, tomatoes and carrots.