It seems that the world of food is just as susceptible to fads as the fashion world. This is most obvious in restaurant menus – I guess they all want to be the most fashionable, innovative or creative – but they then trickle down through cook books and magazines and eventually to our kitchens and kitchen gardens. For me, I’m always one of the last to pick up on these new trends in vegetables, but even I get curious after reading recipes or posts exhorting the wonders of some new (or old) vegetable and give it a go. Here are some that I’ve either already jumped on the band wagon for or have had my curiosity tweaked so that I may give it a go sometime soon.
1. Broad Beans
My childhood memory of eating broad beans, grey, wrinkly and cooked so long the water would have been more nutritious than the beans, put me right off this vegetable to the point where I never thought I would go down that path again. Then two things happened…. 1) I had them double-peeled and cooked quickly in a salad at a restaurant a couple of years ago, delicious! 2) I discovered they are an absolute breeze to grow, are one of the few winter-spring vegetables which then get pulled out ready for a late spring-summer crop and they add nitrogen to the soil. As a gardener I couldn’t resist giving them a go. And as my first crop started to come in I started hunting around for interesting recipes…. there were many! Now I LOVE broad beans.
This is the latest of my attempts at growing one of the fad vegetables while the fashion is still in vogue (I think). Though I’m not growing the very popular calvero nero (which is a type of Kale right?), but rather the less popular Russian Red. I can’t attest to the beauty in looks and taste of the former type, but I am loving the Russian Red. It’s a pretty greeny-grey coloured leaf with red stems and it’s frilly. As well as being pretty, it’s versatile and can be used in salads, soups, stir fry, pasta – in a similar way that spinach or silver beet or rocket can be used. I’m dying to try making kale chips but as yet I haven’t.
Fennel found its way onto our plates some years ago when it was just Mr Good and myself (it’s not really a kid-friendly vegetable, at least that’s what I’ve found) and we were attempting the CSIRO diet. Several of the dishes in the recipe books called for fennel, usually sliced and eaten raw. It’s lovely eaten in this way, fresh, crisp and distinctly aniseedy (which explains why some people hate it). Since then I’ve also eaten it cooked in soups and braised served with a chicken cacciatore. I’m yet to grow my own fennel, but it’s certainly on my list, especially as the fennel tops can be used and the plant is another interesting one visually.
Another that I haven’t grown, though as it’s in the same family as celery and that seems to grow well in my garden, perhaps I should give it a go. In fact I haven’t actually cooked with it very often at all either. But I love the flavour, that celery/parsley sort of taste but in a root vegetable that comes into it’s own in winter. I particularly like it as a mash, served with a wintry casserole or something similar.
Now this last vegetable is the one I’m most curious about at the moment. I haven’t grown it, I haven’t even eaten it, but I’ve been reading lots about it. From what I gather it’s crunchy with the flavour broccoli stem. I’ve heard some like it sliced up and eaten like slices of apple. Many a north American vegetable gardening blogger were hoeing into it a month (or more?) ago, and I recently watched an episode of Kitchen Cabinet where Annabel Crap peeled and ate one straight out of Peter Garret’s fridge claiming a pregnancy craving made her do it. Sounds so much more sophisticated than my craving for white processed food (morning (all day) sickness friendly I found) or peanut butter.
For me these are the fad vegetables of the moment, what would you put in your list? What fads have you cottoned onto in the past? And what do you think will be the next one?
Liz is looking at vegetable invaders this week, sure to be interesting.