Know Your Veggies

Click here for info on herbs & fermented foods too!

Have you ever wondered what to do with something you received in your weekly CSA share? Are you curious about the world of cooking greens or the variety of hot peppers?

Our weekly e-newsletter has info about each item in that week’s share. This page has info for anything we grow or make on the farm. Want to learn more? Check out www.whfoods.org.

 

HOW TO USE THIS LIST

Veggies are listed alphabetically, and varieties are grouped together (for example, you’ll find Crimini Mushrooms under “M” for Mushroom.) If we have a lot of varieties, there will be a link to another page with more details, like this one for Salad & Cooking Greens.

A few things are tricky to categorize, so if you don’t find something right away, keep looking! You may even learn a few new things along the way.


 

Artichokes: A close relative to the thistle weed. ‘Baby’ artichokes come from side shoots while large artichokes come from the central stem. ‘Babies’ can be trimmed, cooked and eaten whole, while large artichokes require preparation: use a small, sharp knife to trim off the small, tough outer leaves near the stem. Cut off and discard the stem so the artichoke will stand upright. Gently open up the leaves to expose the hairy choke inside. Using a small spoon, scrape out and discard the hairy choke and the small pointed purplish leaves covering it. Place in acidulated water until ready to use. To cook, steam whole for about 25 minutes and serve hot with a dipping sauce (such as aioli or mayo). You can also stuff steamed artichokes with rice, ground meat or cheese and bake until bubbly hot.

Arugula: From the Brassica family. Young, it is a mild green and mature it is peppery flavored. Just add it to salads or sandwiches if young, if mature it is best cooked.

Asparagus: To separate the tender portion from the woody, hold the spear in both hands and bend until it breaks into 2 pieces. Dress steamed asparagus with vinaigrette or stir-fry cut spears or roast seasoned asparagus in a hot oven. Try boiling 15 minutes, ‘til tender, drain and puree with half cup water, a little lemon juice and salt, then serve over pasta or chicken. Historically, asparagus has been used to treat problems involving swelling, such as arthritis and rheumatism.

Beans, Romano: Italian beans are green and rather broad and flat, with more prominent bean development.

Beets: Store refrigerated in plastic bags, with roots and greens intact. Beets are a good source of fiber, Vitamin C, magnesium, folate, potassium and manganese. To cook, leave the stems and roots 1/2 inch long, scrub them clean and then dry them. Coat lightly with olive oil and roast at 400ºF until tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Let cool, slice off ends, peel, then slice for a salad or dice and sauté with garlic and balsamic vinegar.

(Baby) Beets: Store refrigerated in plastic bags with roots and green intact. Baby beets are sweeter and faster cooking than full grown beets. Cook by steaming, boiling, roasting, or even sauté if small enough.

(Gold) Beets: Gold beets tend to be sweeter than red ones.

(Chioggia) Beets: An heirloom variety with concentric rings of red and white flesh, they have a sweet, earthy flavor.

Broccoli: One of a small number of vegetables that contribute to a significant reduction in heart disease. Of the more than 100,000 individuals who participated in seven prospective studies, those whose diets most frequently included broccoli, tea, onions and apples (foods rich in flavonoids) gained a 20% reduction in their risk of heart disease! See also: Sessantina Grossa

Broccoli Raab: Raab is distinct from regular broccoli in that this traditional Italian specialty combines qualities of mustard greens and broccoli for salads or light cooking. Try it lightly steamed with a nice soy sauce/toasted sesame seed oil mixture drizzled over it. The leaves, stems, and buds are succulent, tender and delicious in salads, steamed or in stir fry. For best flavor, don’t over-cook.

Brussels Sprouts: A lot of people don’t like sprouts, but then they’ve never had fresh ones. Wonderful! Steam or boil unless including in a stir-fry or raw salad (slice very finely). Steamed is the better option if you are then going to include them in a sauté or bake them. They go well with bacon, butter, chives, cream, garlic, shallots, pork and mustard.

Burdock Root: Also known as Gobo, Great Burdock and Beggar’s Button. Native to northern China and Siberia. The very long, thin taproot is cultivated primarily in Japan, where it has been grown since the 10th century. The Japanese believe gobo to be a blood purifier, a support to healthy liver function, a tonic after sickness, and an aid to arthritis and skin diseases. Gobo’s flavor is similar to that of artichoke hearts or salsify (“oyster root”) and is excellent at absorbing flavors from foods and seasonings it is cooked with. Nutritionally, burdock offers a wealth of minerals, including iron, chromium, magnesium, silicon, calcium and potassium in a very high fiber package. To store, wrap in wet paper towels and plastic and refrigerate for up to a week. For longer storage, be sure to keep moist. To lessen the earthy flavor, soak in water 5-10 minutes & drain before using. An easy way to use is make a miso broth and serve with small dishes of shredded burdock and carrots, chopped scallions, tofu cubes or shredded cooked meats, to be added to individual bowls to taste. Great added to a stir-fry.

Cabbage: Good source of Thiamin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate and Manganese. Fabulous raw in salads or tacos and burritos as substitute for lettuce.
We grow several varieties of cabbage on the farm. Click here for more information.

Carrots: Contain beta carotene, which is converted by the body to Vitamin A. This vitamin helps develop and maintain healthy vision and may be beneficial to blood sugar regulation. Also contains Vitamins C and K, fiber and potassium. Clean carrots with a vegetable brush, but do not peel or scrape them since most of the mineral contents are very close to the skin. The tops are edible and should be removed before storing the roots. Carrots can be stored in a cool place for as long as 4-6 months or refrigerated in a plastic bag with tops removed for a few weeks.

Cauliflower: The thick stems under the buds store most of the nutrients so use those, too. You can roast it, steam it and add cheese on top or slice it and add raw to salads. It has high levels of vitamins C and K, folate and fiber.

Celery: The outer stalks can have ‘strings’ while the inner ‘heart’ stalks are almost stringless. To use cut off the base and trim the leafy ends. Wash each stalk to remove dirt. Can serve raw with peanut or almond butter, or blue cheese inside cavity, or dice and use in soups and stews, stuffings, stir-fries, etc. To extend storage time, trim a bit off the stem end and set it in an inch of water. Set the container in a tall plastic bag and draw it up around the leaves, but don’t seal it. Set it in the door of the refrigerator, and use as needed. As long as the water is refreshed regularly and the stem trimmed, it stays very crisp and fresh-tasting.

Chard: Refrigerate in plastic bags. Freshen by cutting an inch or so off the bottom of stems and soaking in cold water for 10 minutes, then refrigerate in a plastic bag to revive. The stems are good to eat too; just discard the bottom inch or so. Stems should go in the pan for a few minutes before the leaves.
There’s more info on the salad & cooking greens page.

Choy: Bok Choy is a very versatile brassica, great in raw vegetable salads or cooked – just don’t overcook. The crisp stems have a great texture. When it is small, leave them whole and gently sauté in a little broth till barely tender. Or combine thin ribbons of bok choy stems and leaves with stock, shreds of meat, ginger, green onions, and tofu for soup.
There’s more info on the Salad & Cooking Greens page.

Corn: An excellent source of vitamins B1, B5 and C, fiber, phosphorus and manganese. When first harvested corn has the best flavor it will ever have. Once picked it begins converting sugar to starch. So, eat sooner rather than later or it will lose its sweetness.

Endive, Belgian: Almost white with closely wrapped leaves, braise whole or quartered endive spears in a mixture of butter, chicken stock, white wine, and a little sugar. Or add whole or sliced to a winter salad with walnuts, apples, and blue cheese. Or separate leaves and use them as edible containers for raw salad mixtures.

Eggplant: Come in white and purple varieties. They are sweet when fresh but become bitter as they get older (a few days), so use sooner rather than later. Cook by piercing the skin with a fork several times (or they’ll explode, trust me), oil lightly and roast at 400ºF, turning once, for about 45 minutes.

Fava Beans: Pull the pods open along the seams and remove the beans. If the beans are as small as your thumbnail, they don’t need the cuticle removed. If larger, drop into boiling, salted water for 30 seconds. Drain and drop in ice water. Slice the inner skin of each bean with a fingernail and pop out the beans. This is more work than you are used to, but fava beans are very worth the effort a couple of times a year! One way to enjoy them: cook in a skillet with a little olive oil over medium heat – about 10 minutes. Add chopped green onions just before they are done. Season with fresh herbs and lemon juice. Click here for a lot of good information on favas.

(Baby) Fava Beans: If favas are small enough (still round, not flat with pronounced beans inside), they don’t need to be shelled. Just cook like they are green beans, pod and all. They don’t have as much flavor as green beans, so adding garlic, a little soy sauce, etc. really enhances the flavor. Enjoy them in stews, by adding them for just the last 30 minutes or so. Or stir fry with mushrooms, onions and a ginger sauce. Sautéing over high heat with olive oil and garlic works well too.

Fava Greens & Sprouts: The flavor is a blend of spinach and fresh peas. Serve raw for a grassier flavor or sauté them for a nuttier flavor.

Fennel Bulbs: So versatile. Store by wrapping in plastic and keeping in the refrigerator. To prepare pull away the outer layer that is likely to be stringy (use that & stalks in stock). The bulbs, stalks, leaves and seeds are all edible. Immediately place cut fennel in acidulated water until cooking or eating to prevent oxidation. One idea is thinly slicing the bulb and adding in your favorite spaghetti sauce recipe. Suddenly the sauce tastes so much more authentic. Try sautéing wedges in olive oil over high heat until caramelized. If you don’t have other plans for it, The Field Guide To Produce suggests: serve raw sticks or wedges with olive oil and lemon; shave the bulb paper thin and soak in ice water with a little lemon juice till curled, then add to a salad; saute wedges in olive oil over high heat until caramelized; boil diced bulb and add to rice, pasta, or polenta; chop light green stalks and add to meatballs, red sauce for seafood, or soup.

Garlic: Store in dry place at room temperature.

(Spring) Garlic: There’s no bulb, just a fresh, mild garlic flavored stalk, much like garlic whistles.

(Green) Garlic: Fresh, not cured because it is just out of the field, we haven’t hung the garlic heads in the barn for two weeks to dry and cure. It has a mild, fresh, sharp flavor. The heads do not store well so use them sooner rather than later. You will find the skin very different and the garlic much juicier. Keep refrigerated.

Garlic Whistles (AKA Scapes): These are the buds sent up by the garlic plant. Harvesting them saves more energy for a bigger garlic bulb and we can enjoy fresh garlic flavor before our bulbs are ready to harvest. Discard the bud or use for garnish. The stem is the good part. Chop and include in any dish as you would bulb garlic.

Greens: Lettuce, Salad Greens, Spinach and Cooking Greens all have the same crisper life and should be kept in plastic bags. Any bunch greens can be freshened by cutting an inch of the bottom stalks and soaking the entire bunch in cold water for 10 minutes. Place in a plastic bag in the fridge for a few hours to revive.
We love greens at the farm! And we like to keep you supplied with a variety of salad and cooking greens all year ‘round. Click here for more information on the varieties you may find in your CSA share.

Kale: Store in the crisper in a plastic bag. Wash and fold along the center to cut out the stems. Excellent in soups, stews and risotto. It needs to be cooked longer (about 20 minutes) than other greens but holds its texture well. It is an excellent source of Vitamins A, B6, C, K, calcium, copper, potassium and manganese, and a good source of Vit. E, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Folate, Iron and Magnesium.
There’s more info on the Salad & Cooking Greens page.

Kohlrabi: It is the other-worldly looking purple or green globe that might become your new favorite vegetable. The most important thing is to thoroughly peel it – the skin is very fibrous. Grate and add to a salad or coleslaw. Or slice and stir-fry. Also a nice addition for a stew. The leaves are good as cooking greens. To store, keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They are high in Vitamins B6 and C, fiber, potassium, copper and manganese, thiamine, folate, magnesium and phosphorus.

Leeks: Place in plastic bag and refrigerate. Use the white and pale green parts only. Wash well. One easy way to prepare is to slice thinly the white portion of 1 good sized leek and slowly cook it in a skillet with a little olive oil. When completely done, add chopped chard stems then the leaves, a teaspoon or so of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, then cover the skillet and keep cooking for a couple of minutes, until the chard is done – quite yummy. Or, slice leeks and garlic thinly and placed them around a thick halibut steak brushed with olive oil. Place the pan under the broiler. Turn the halibut once and continue cooking until done. The leeks and garlic are crunchy but not burned, with a very nice flavor and texture.

Leek Whistles: These are the buds sent up by the leek plant. Harvesting them saves more energy for a bigger leek and we can enjoy the leek flavor before the leeks are ready to harvest. Discard the bud or use for garnish. The stem is the good part. Chop and include in any dish as you would leeks.

Lettuce: Store in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Any bunch greens can be freshened by cutting an inch of the bottom stalks and soaking the entire bunch in cold water for 10 minutes. Place in a plastic bag in the fridge for a few hours to revive.
Click here for more information on the varieties of lettuce we grow at the farm.

Mushrooms: Keep in a cool, dark place in a paper bag. Do not wash until ready to use. If you prefer to remove the stems, save stems for stock.

(Crimini) Mushrooms: They are similar to common white mushrooms but have more flavor. Never store in plastic – paper bags work well. Criminis have good keeping qualities. Clean with a damp cloth right before use.

(Portobello) Mushrooms: These are large, fully mature crimini mushrooms, 4 to 6 inches across. Clean with a damp towel or just brush off any debris. Store in a paper bag in the fridge until use. Some people remove the stems and some use them so it’s up to you. They are often used as a meat substitute because of the solid texture and flavor. Try slicing and sautéing slowly then tossing them with pasta and parmesan.

(Shiitake) Mushrooms: Stems should be reserved for making stock, they are too fibrous to chew. We grow shiitake mushrooms here on oak logs. Shiitakes should be cooked and make an excellent side dish just sautéed in a little oil with garlic. Keep cooking until all liquid is gone. Or include in stir-fries, soup, or stew. We de-stemmed and sliced the caps, sautéed them in olive oil, then added sliced rainbow chard stems, minced garlic, then the torn chard leaves and cooked till the leaves were just wilted. Squeeze a lemon over it and enjoy.

Onions: Different varieties of onions vary greatly in the amount of health-promoting benefits. Onions are a major source of phenols and flavonoids, two types of phytonutrients that numerous studies show are protective against cardiovascular disease and cancer. In general, the most pungent onions deliver many times the benefits of milder, sweeter onions like Walla Walla or Vidalia. Shallots were found to have the most phenols, and Western Yellow onions the most flavonoids. Research also shows that slicing, chopping or mincing onions 10 minutes before cooking enhances their health-promoting properties. The cells need to be broken down to allow two compounds to form a powerful new compound that not only increases health-promoting properties but is also the cause of pungent aroma and eye irritation that comes from cutting onions. So we all need to just suck it up when it comes to the burning eyes – the more burn, the more protective phytonutrients.

(Red) Onions: They don’t store as well as some other onions, but have a somewhat sweet flavor and crunchy texture.

(Spring) Onions: These are fresh harvested onions (not dried). They should be kept in a plastic bag in the fridge crisper and used sooner rather than later.

(Tropea) Onions: This Mediterranean variety is best used in cooked dishes. Long and red, these onions are grown in Italy and France. They are best sautéed or fried, with a good aroma and flavor. If not cooked, they taste pretty strong.

(Walla Walla) Onions: A sweet onion originally from Corsica, Walla Walla’s are sweet, jumbo sized, and pretty much round.

Parsnips: Look like large, off-white carrots (but must be cooked) and have a slightly sweet anise-like flavor with a nutty aftertaste. Remove the fibrous, woody core before using; quarter parsnip lengthwise and cut out the core with a paring knife. To store wrap in paper towels, place inside a plastic bag, and refrigerate in the coldest, moistest part of refrigerator for up to 1 month. To roast, cut off each end, peel, coat with olive oil, sprinkle with finely minced rosemary and put in a roasting pan in the oven, about 375. Turn a couple of times and cook till fork pierces easily. Beets, turnips or winter squash would be a good accompaniment in the roasting pan.

Peas, Sugar Snap: Keep refrigerated in plastic bags or containers. They have tender pods and are eaten whole. Toss them in salads or into a stir fry.

Peppers, Hot: Hot peppers can vary quite a bit in intensity from the mild Anaheim to the attention-getting Hot Paper Lantern, so it’s helpful to know what to expect. It’s also important to take care when handling hot peppers. Use rubber gloves when preparing them, clean up thoroughly and always avoid touching your eyes. If you want more heat, include the seeds; for less heat, remove the seeds before cooking.
We grow several varieties of hot peppers on the farm. Click here for more information.

Peppers, Sweet: Should be stored in the crisper and washed before use. Bell peppers can be identified by their shape. Regardless of their color, they are sweet, so just cut them up and put them raw in salads or on pizza. Or, sauté them and add to omelets, pasta or a warmed roast beef sandwich.
We grow several varieties of sweet peppers on the farm. Click here for descriptions, more nutritional information and ideas for how to use frozen sweet peppers.

Potatoes: Keep moderately cool, no lower than 50 degrees, in a dry dark place. Click here to read more about the potato varieties we grow on the farm

Raddicchio: From the chicory family and most often seen in green salads although it looks like a small, loose red cabbage. It can be sautéed and even grilled, too. Store in the refrigerator in the salad crisper. High in Vitamins A and C.

Radishes: Store refrigerated in plastic bags, leaving greens on with both roots and tops in the bag. Serve with sweet butter and salt, or cut into quarters, sauté 5 minutes in butter and add a pinch of salt. If the leaves are fresh and green, cook them like other greens or use in soups – they have a peppery taste similar to arugula.

(Daikon) Radish: Very mild flavor and extremely versatile, often eaten raw in salads or for relish trays. Can be stir-fried, grilled, baked, boiled or broiled. Also used in soups and simmered dishes. To prepare, peel skin as you would a carrot and cut for whatever style your recipe idea calls for.

(Easter Egg) Radish: Come in a mix of red, white and purple. Very pretty in salads or eaten whole.

(French Breakfast) Radish: Rather long in shape, they have red shoulders with white tips. Excellent for use with dips or in fresh salads. Has varying degrees of spiciness.

Rhubarb: Remove & discard all the green leaf. Only the stalks are edible. Cook only in non-aluminum pots. If the stalks are stringy you can peal them or pull off the strings. Rhubarb is used for making deserts and is often paired with other fruits.

Rutabagas: This pale golden-fleshed root has purple-yellowish skin. Rutabagas are sweeter than turnips and often milder in flavor. Refrigerate in plastic bag. One of the best ways to prepare is to coat with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic granules, toss and then roast until caramelized. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 2 weeks or refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Shallots: A small member of the onion family, shallots are formed like garlic with multiple cloves. Store like you would onions in a cool, dark and dry, well ventilated place. Shallots are most often diced into small pieces as an aromatic in dishes. An idea from The Field Guide to Produce: slice thinly and brown in butter with a little chopped thyme till deeply caramelized, then serve as a topping for grilled chicken, brown rice, or hamburgers.

Spinach: Baby spinach is best raw in salads, on pasta or sandwiches. Mature spinach is best cooked. Either is great in quiche, omelet, or lightly sautéed.

Squash, Summer: Each year we plant several varieties of summer squash and harvest them when relatively small. Our farm’s favorite is Costata Romanesco – straight, variegated green, and prominent ribs. The yield is half that of hybrids, but they are so clearly superior in taste, raw or cooked. To store refrigerate in plastic bags in the crisper. Baby summer squash can be grilled whole.

(Yellow Crookneck) Squash: Crooknecks have a buttery flavor and firm texture. When I was a kid, they were the only summer squash in the garden. My grandmother boiled them in a little water, drained thoroughly, then mashed with a little milk, butter, and bacon pieces.

Squash, Winter: We *heart* winter squash! There are so many ways you can prepare it—roasted, baked, sautéed, pureed, and even breaded & deep fried. These squash keep well, so they are a staple of our fall and early winter diet.
We grow a wide variety of winter squash at the farm. Click here for info to help you identify the squash in your CSA share.

Tomatillos: A native to Mexico, tomatillos are in the same family as tomatoes. Store in the refrigerator in a paper bag up to a month. They freeze well, prepare by removing the papery husk and wash thoroughly – tomatillos are sticky. They are the basic ingredient in salsa verde. Simmer or roast whole tomatillos, onion, garlic, and jalapenos till soft, then blend to make a green enchilada sauce. Or add chopped tomatillos to guacamole.

Tomatoes: In case you didn’t know, you should never refrigerate tomatoes unless they are overly ripe. They will lose much of their flavor.

(Sungold) Tomatoes: Lots of varieties are called ‘sungold’ but this is the real deal. They split easily but definitely have the best taste. They are so sweet it’s the only tomato we know that makes a good dessert.

Turnips: Have purple-white skin and their white flesh has a grassy, mellow flavor. Refrigerate for up to 1 week. They have thick skin so peel with a knife. Roast these by first peeling and quartering then parboiling for 3 minutes. Dry. Oil a shallow roasting pan and toss turnips with oil to coat. Roast at 375°F until fork tender, about 25 minutes or so.

(Baby) Turnips: These little guys cook up in 10 minutes. Remove and wash the greens. Don’t peel them, it would be a waste. Plop them whole in boiling water until almost fork tender. Drain and either leave whole or cut in half. Place in a hot skillet with a small amount of bacon drippings (or butter, olive oil). Cook over medium high heat, occasionally stirring, ‘til some browning occurs. Add the turnip greens and stir for just a minute or so. Salt and pepper to taste.

Watermelon, Orchid: Sweet, bright, orange flesh with a sherbet-like taste.