This week's share, the last of the season, offers several new items that typically mature late in the season: sun chokes, daikon radish and radicchio. Also this week: salad mix, scallions, pears and some special surprises.
Sunchokes aka Jerusalem artichokes are known above ground as false sunflowers for their very tall sunny blooms. Their tubers are odd knobbly shapes and have a less starchy texture than potatoes. These are delicious little tubers and are great roasted, sautéed or in soups and have an earthy, nutty flavor. In full disclosure, they can cause some people bloating and gassiness. I know that doesn't sound that appealing but they are definitely worth a try. For those of you who want to test the waters with sunchokes I suggest making a sunchokes and potato soup so you aren't sitting down to a big ol' plate of them until you know how your body reacts. Try mixing half potatoes, half sunchokes, some chicken or vegetable broth, leeks or onions and some fresh thyme. Puree the soup when roots are tender and finish with a little cream and of course season with salt and pepper. You may also want to add a squeeze of lemon juice and finish of with a vibrant parsley pistou.
Daikon Radish can grow up to 18 inches long and 3 inches wide - a great crop for opening up compacted soils! It is also used to make delicious traditional Japanese pickles. However, this week you'll get smaller, baby daikons that will be delicious cooked or raw. Please also cook the greens! They are delicious and would be great with komatsuna if you haven't used that up from last week.
You can make a simple heart-warming soup with lots of root veggies or leave the other roots out and use a base for ramen. Start with sautéing scallions, add daikons cut into rough chunks. If you want to make stew add roughly chopped sweet potato and carrots. For this application big chunks is great. Toss with the scallions and then add the chopped daikon greens. When wilted add some chicken or veggie broth. You can season this light yet hearty soup with slices of fresh ginger. The sweetness of the vegetables are really what is giving a lot of flavor here. You can also add a little soy sauce or shoyu.
If you want to go the ramen route omit the other root veggies and season your broth. Pour over your cooked ramen noodles and if you are really feeling into this dish top with some pork belly and gochu chili flakes. Ramen really deserves more full blown discourse that we don't have time for here. Let this be a little launch pad for your own explorations!
To round out this crazy season, I'd like to end on a positive note and share work that inspires us to consider what possibility and potential lie ahead in our own community. There are lots of farm resources out there that share info on each crop. And while it would be great to have our own, why reinvent the wheel with countless hours of work to compile a comprehensive listing when others have already done such a great job. I encourage you to search out and share your own resources but here is one to get your started. Farmer Foodshare out of North Carolina has such a great resource and I'll link here to their page on Radicchio. But please also take a minute to cruise around their site and see the other work that they do. I still believe we have a long way to go in addressing access to fresh, healthy, local food. Organizations like Farmer Foodshare light a spark of inspiration that we'll take with us into the "off" season as we ask what can we do more for our community. If you've got ideas, let us know!