Beetroot

The beautiful bulbous beetroot is this week’s veggie! While deep-red or deep-purple coloured beets are generally more familiar to us, beets come in a variety of colours, such as yellow and white. There is even a striped variety, appropriately called “candy cane”. Beets come from the same family as rainbow chard or Swiss chard, and if you were to bite into the crisp stem of the latter you would be able to taste the familial bond. 

The long history and importance of beets for many human societies have been recorded across ancient texts. While the beet as we know it today began to be cultivated in 16th and 17th century Europe, these colourful root veggies have been with us for far longer. According to old Assyrian texts, beets – i.e., an ancestor of our modern variety – were allegedly cultivated in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as early as 800BC. In ancient Greek society, the leaves were regularly used for healing and the Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC) recommended beets for binding wounds, cleansing the blood, and treating digestive problems. The ancient Romans, on the other hand, were the first to begin cultivating beets as a source of food. 

Since then, beets have become hugely popular across the world. They are generous, with every part, including the leaves, being edible. They are nutritious, rich in nutrients, fibers, and many beneficial plant compounds. Finally, they are easy to prepare. They are delicious pickled, boiled, oven baked or even eaten raw. This week’s recipe – borscht – provides an idea of how beets can be cooked. It’s a traditional dish, popular in many parts of Easter Europe. Enjoy! 

Beetroot

 

 

Read more
1 reaction Share

Kipfler Potatoes

Kipfler potatoes, botanically classified as Solanum tuberosum ‘Kipfler,’ are also known as the German finger potatoes and the Austrian Crescent. They are members of the Solanaceae or nightshade family along with eggplants and tomatoes.

These little soil-covered crescents are among the most popular in Australia with their nutty, buttery taste and creamy texture. They are delicious baked, roasted, or boiled, but are not as tasty when fried or mashed. Since kipfler potatoes hold their shape well when cooked, they make excellent salad potatoes. They are also commonly sliced into wedges and roasted for a filling side dish. Their shape-holding ability also allows them to be used as a topping on pizza and flatbreads. And as you are sitting there, munching on a newly roasted wedge, know that the little kipfler is giving your body vitamin C, manganese, potassium, fiber, and copper.

The name of the Kipfler potato is of Austrian descent with “kipfel” translating to croissant, appropriately given since the yellow potato resembles the popular pastry with its color, thin shape, curves, and sharp angles. In Austria, Kipfler potatoes have long been used in the classic preparation of the potato mayonnaise salad, a traditional dish that has since carried over to Australia and is used in a variety of events from backyard BBQs to special occasions meals. 

Kipler potatoes

 

 

 

Read more
1 reaction Share

Butternut Squash

The veggie of the week is our long-necked fall favourite, the butternut squash! Butternuts are technically fruits. They grow on long trailing vines, stretching as far as 15 feet in length. And while they may commonly be called winter squash, butternuts are grown in the summer and harvested in fall. The name is thought to have originated from the man that first grew them, amateur breeder Charles A. Leggett around 1940. He decided to name the new breed the butternut because of its creamy texture and slightly sweet, nutty taste.

The story of the butternut squash is allegedly one of crossbreeding to meet industrial needs. Initially, straight-neck winter squash was not preferred, and the lengthy, curvy winter crookneck was the choice. As the commercial shipping and distribution of squash in bulk increased in demand, the need for winter squash that was stackable and compact grew and inspired the development of modern butternut varieties.

Today butternut squash is a household staple, often enjoyed in the fall or winter, but available year around. Apart from providing warmth on a cool winter day or adding sweetness to your summer salad, the butternut is generously nourishing. It provides vitamins A, C, and E, manganese, potassium, iron, soluble fiber, and magnesium, bringing numerous health benefits.

As if that was not enough, butternuts are easy to add to any meal plan. They can be part of both sweet and savoury dishes, prepared in innumerable ways, and all parts of the butternut squash, apart from the green tip, can be eaten. You can roast the seed for a snack, and while the insides are creamy and delicious, the skin is also edible! This week’s recipe is a recipe for the oncoming fall and winter, for darker evenings and cooler days.

Butternut Squash

 

 

Read more
1 reaction Share

Sweet Potato

The veggie of the week is the beloved sweet potato! And if there is one thing that the sweet potato is not, it is a potato. The delicious tuber is actually part of the root vegetable family alongside beets, turnips and parsnips. While you may be most familiar with the golden kind, hundreds of varieties grown worldwide display an array of colours such as white, cream, yellow, reddish-purple, and deep purple. Though the flavour of the little tuber varies depending on the variety, it is a sweet addition to any meal.

Apart from being a flavourful addition to sweet and savoury dishes alike, the tubers generously contribute vitamins, minerals, and important plant compounds. For instance, they are a great source of vitamins A and C, which respectively are essential for healthy eyes and skin and a functioning immune system.

Furthermore, this colourful tuber has an equally colourful and intriguing history. While many foods spread around the world in the wake of Columbus and intensified European colonisation, the sweet potato seems to have departed the shores of its native Americas long before that. Scientists have found prehistoric remnants of the tuber in Polynesia from about A.D. 1000 to A.D. 1100, suggesting that it travelled from the Andes almost 400 years before Columbus. While its seeds could have drifted on seaweed or gotten lodged in the wings of a bird, the Polynesians were likely well-equipped to traverse the depths of the Pacific, sailing sophisticated, double-hulled canoes that could carry 80 or more people and be out to sea for months.

Sweet potatoes are very versatile. They can be cooked in a variety of ways – fried, baked, boiled or steamed – and they can be used in numerous dishes, desserts, mains and as tasty sides. The suggested recipe this week is using the sweetness of sweet potato to its fullest. Enjoy! 

Sweet potato

 

 

Read more
1 reaction Share

Zucchini

The veggie of the week is a fruit, but a fruit that at least I always thought of as a vegetable! I am of course talking about our beloved household staple zucchini. Zucchini, also known as courgette, is a summer squash in the Cucurbitaceae plant family, alongside melons, spaghetti squash, and cucumbers.

Growing from flowers, zucchinis are technically considered a fruit, not a vegetable. And guess what, the flowers are edible too! The zucchinis themselves have a mild taste. While they are commonly recognised for their grand greenness, they occur in several varieties ranging in colour from dark green to deep yellow, with the latter being slightly sweeter.

This versatile household staple contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds, with cooked zucchini being particularly high in vitamin A. Raw zucchini, on the other hand, have less vitamin A but more vitamin C, a nutrient which tends to be reduced by cooking. 

Different sources give slightly different information on the history of zucchini, but they all agree that the fruit is the grandchild of a type of squash that was taken from South and Central America and brought to Europe in the wake of the European countries’ colonisation of the American continent.

These green and yellow beauties are very versatile. Think of almost any dish – or at least any meal – and chances are you can pop a zucchini into the pot or pan or baking tray. You can fry them, sauté them, use a vegetable peeler to turn your zucchini into “pasta ribbons” or even munch on the raw squash. They can take the place of potatoes and pasta and be part of a savoury pie. They can even, as in this week’s recipe, be used to make bread! 

Zucchini

 

 

Read more
1 reaction Share

Red Sensation Pears

Red Sensation pears are large and have a true piriform shape, with a long neck and bulbous base. They ripen from a yellow-green to an all-over ruby red. The skin is smooth and dotted with lenticels, or pores, indicative of the fruit’s higher sugar content. They are harvested when just mature and ripen to a brilliant red colour off the tree. The pear’s cream-coloured flesh is fine-grained, crisp and juicy, and offers a sweet taste. 

Red Sensation pears are available during the early winter months in the northern hemisphere and during the summer in the southern hemisphere. They are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, potassium and calcium. The red skins are rich in the phytonutrient anthocyanin which offers beneficial antioxidants. Red Sensation pears are low on the glycemic index and are ideal for those on a low-sugar diet.

The pears can be enjoyed raw or cooked. After washing the pears, slice into rounds or quarters and add to green salads, crudité platters or fruit salads. They can be sliced and used for pies, tarts, scones, or other baked goods. Add them to savoury tomato salsas, slaws, potato soups, or grilled cheese sandwiches. They make excellent poached pears and stand up well to cooking. Add Red Sensation pears to pork dishes, stuffing for chicken or put atop a pizza with gorgonzola cheese. Roast or grill the pears to caramelise and serve with sweet or savoury pairings. Red Sensation pears will continue to ripen once harvested and ripen anywhere from several days to a week at room temperature. Once ripe, they will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. 

Red Sensation Pears

 

 

Read more
1 reaction Share

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard is an heirloom variety of standard silverbeet and it’s also commonly known as Swiss Chard, Marigold or Perpetual Spinach. Chard comes in various colours, spanning the entire rainbow from white to purple. It is a superfood and a good source of folate and fibre. 
It’s a super food with the third highest nutrient density after watercress and chinese cabbage, and is a good source of folate, fibre, and vitamins A, k and C. It also contains betalains which can counter inflammation, protect the liver, and have anti-cancer and antioxidant activity. 

Good chard has fresh-looking, dark-green and glossy leaves and crisp stems. Avoid those that have scarred or wilted leaves. Wash chard stems because they can be full of dirt. You can freeze the leaves, but the stems don’t freeze well, so it’s best to separate them first. To store chard, chop it into a container and put it in the fridge for up to a week. 

Rainbow chard

Bean Soup with Chard 

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped small
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans
  • 2 cups chopped rainbow chard
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels, optional
  • 1/3 cup macaroni, small shells, or orzo pasta, optional
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. In a large soup pot, sauté the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic in olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add the beans, rainbow chard, vegetable broth, corn (if using), macaroni pasta, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to the pot, stirring to combine them.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium simmer. Heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until macaroni and chard are both cooked.
  4. Serve and enjoy your white bean and rainbow chard soup.

 

1 reaction Share