Well this week we had a box consisting of some interesting items with which some home cooks may not be familiar.
First, a familiar items were bunching onions, which are a
great addition to egg scrambles, meat sautés,
salads, or, my favorite, dipped in salt and consumed raw. If you plan to add the onions to a cooked dish later, you can chop them up and freeze them for safe keeping.
Second, was sage. Some interesting facts about the benefits of sage are:
-it can help with cancer
-it can help with allergies when the seasons change
-it can boost your memory and has been used for ages to assist people with Alzheimer's disease
-it can help reduce inflammation and sooth arthritis
-it can help with cholesterol and, my favorite, weight loss
If you want to look into all the benefits of sage more closely, a good starting point is the article I grabbed these facts from that was written by Aylin Erman titled Eating Sage Leaves Makes You Healthy, Happy, and ...'Sage'.
As far has how you can consume these little treasures...well any way you want, but here are some ideas other
than simply putting them on the outside of a turkey or chicken. My favorite way is to just through a few cut up leaves on top of my salad (which is usually some type of greens like say the Russian Kale in your box, some grated carrots....wait that was in your box too, a little bit of chopped bunching onion....are you seeing a pattern??, and then adding something for more color like say some edible kale flowers) or making a simple vinaigrette dressing for the salad. I like to keep this basic salad dressing recipe list in my favorites because with the basic vinaigrette I can easily add a Tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs like sage to the recipe and have some seasonal salad flavors. The benefits of storing fresh chopped herbs in an oil like olive, is that slowly the oil becomes infused with the health benefits of the herb placed in it.
Another way to use sage is to make tea by pouring a cup of boiling water over 10 large fresh leaves, or a combination of smaller and medium sized leaves, and steep for 5 minutes. Strain the liquid to remove the leaves and drink or add a sweetening agent as sage tea can be quite bitter. If you choose to make tea you can then use the steeped leaves in a broth, sauce, or other food application where the "sogginess" isn't a factor and you can get all the benefits from these little treasures. If you want to research sage, it's medicinal qualities, drug interactions to avoid (there are some), and information about who shouldn't use sage as more than a seasoning (like pregnant or nursing moms) then take a look at WebMD's Sage page. I grow common sage or Salvia officinalis.
The third familiar item in the box was Russian kale. Most have heard of kale and
have tried at least one of the many types. I personally prefer Russian kale for salads and fresh eating, because I find the flavor not as strong as some of the other varieties. It can be used in soups, as kale chips, or any other number of recipe ideas you can find on-line, but what might have been a little less familiar to you was the stalk of flowers that accompanied your bag of kale. The flowers are edible and make a wonderful and fun addition to salads and as a garnish on pretty much anything. You can also chop up the thinner portion of the stalk and add that to a soup, a sauté, an egg scramble, or a stir fry.
The fourth familiar item was carrots. This is our star of the week! Did you know there is a carrot museum?? Well, there is and it's in the UK. Most of us are familiar with carrots and the many ways they can be consumed: eaten fresh, in salads, roasted, juiced, boiled, etc. What you may not have been so familiar with are the carrot tops. You had a bag of those in your box too. Most people traditionally throw this part away thinking it isn't for eating, but you can eat it. The simplest way is to add some chopped leaves to your salads, throw them in a soup, or juice them.
Traditionally people have thought of carrot tops as poisonous, but they are no more poisonous than peanuts. Like peanuts, people can have an allergic reaction to them so keep that in mind when you try them for the first time. In commercial production the tops are usually heavily sprayed with pesticides which makes them less appealing to eat, but guess what...I don't use pesticides so you get more bang for your buck.
Carrot tops or carrot greens are highly nutritious in their own right. I really can't say it any better or more succinct than the World Carrot Museum did in their information article:
The leaves of carrot ARE considered edible and are highly nutritive, rich in protein, minerals and vitamins. They contain 6 times the vitamin C of the root and are a great source of potassium and calcium. The tops of the carrots are loaded with potassium which can make them bitter, so the use of them in food is limited, but there some ideas and recipes below. The leaves do have antiseptic qualities and can be juiced and used as a mouthwash.
These greens are packed with chlorophyll, a phytochemical that gives plants their green colour and pigmentation. Chlorophyll is an excellent source of magnesium, which promotes healthy blood pressure as well as strong bones and muscles, and has been noted to purify the blood, lymph nodes and adrenal glands
They are high in potassium, which can lower blood pressure, support your metabolism, and help prevent osteoporosis. People most at risk for heart disease are the ones who get too little potassium.
What's more, carrot greens are rich in vitamin K, which is lacking in the carrot itself and is vital to bone health. They have also been noted to deter tumour growth.
This same page offers a variety of wonderful recipes that I am excited to try. If you go to the World Carrot Museum's Eat Your Carrot Green Tops article and scroll to the bottom, you can find recipes like:
Carrot Top Soup with Carrot Top Pesto
Carrot Greens-Basil Pesto
Carrot Top Juice
Carrot Top and Potato Soup
Carrot Top Tea
Carrot Green, Parsley, & Hazelnut Pesto for Pasta
Celery Root Salad with Carrot Top Vinaigrette
Whole Carrot Salad
Carrot Top Scramble
Carrot Top and Rice Soup
If you try any of these recipes, create your own, or find others, please share which one(s) and what you thought. If you like it, including a picture that I can use would be wonderful!