Kohlrabi With Apple and Herb Dressing

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Combine :
1 lb. kohlrabi, cut into large dice
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Let sit for 1/2 hour or longer

Combine :
1/2 cup strained or greek-style yogurt (or thick soy yogurt)
2 tbs walnut or olive oil or a mix of the two
1 tbs chopped chives
2 tbs fresh mint, chopped fine
2 tbs fresh italian parsley, chopped fine
1 tbs (or more) garlic, minced
ground white pepper to taste
1 or 2 small chiles, chopped fine
4 oz. firm-fleshed apple, large dice

Toss with kohlrabi and serve.


A lot of people react negatively to kohlrabi. I love it, and eat raw slices of it. But then I eat raw radishes, too, so… for those who don’t care as much for it, this preparation softens its’ intensity with apple and fresh mint. The yogurt should be thick, but even if it is, this can be a somewhat “loose” salad. Keeps well, tastes better on the second day.

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Winter Celery Root Salad

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Take :

1 lb celery root, peeled and grated or julienned on a mandoline

* Save the peels and leftover pieces from grating and use in celery root syrup (recipe to follow).

Toss grated root with:

1/2 tsp salt

Allow to stand for at least 20 minutes.

Add :

about 1/2 cup strong fermented greens, chopped fine

about 1/3 cup pickled onions, diced or chopped small

about 1/4 cup sweet hot pickled carrots

* These can be around these proportions of any variety of different homemade or purchased fermented or pickled vegetables. The key is to play off of celery roots sweetness and use more intense and tart flavors. I would also avoid adding too much quantity of any one thing rather than overpower the celery root.

Toss, add :

2 tbs capers, chopped fine

A splash of vinegar of lemon juice if desired

1/4 cup of sweet fern (Comptonia peregrina), crumbled

2 tbs or so of wild basil (Cliopodium vulgare) leaves and flowers, crumbled

1-2 jalapenos or other fairly mild chile, diced

Toss and Serve

This salad produces its own dressing in the seasoned liquid created by salting the celery root and the various brined or fermented vegetables. It shouldn’t require oil, but it certainly won’t mind it. Try it with the modest amount of chiles recommended and see how it suits. I found that the addition of more ruined the finish of the celery root. This is a dish that benefits from a night in the fridge to let the flavors meld. It can be served chilled or at room temperature.

This is excellent served as a contrast to more rich or heavy dishes, being sharp and clean and quite healthy (unless of course one is on a low salt diet). Essentially a mixed pickle in the guise of a salad, it would be a good compliment to dishes such as catfish, fatty tuna, pork, tofu, beans, eggplant, okra, potatoes, beets, noodles and noodle soups. It works best as a salad if used in a sequence of small dishes

Just as the fermented or pickled vegetables could be endlessly varied, so could the herbs used. In the winter I tend to use dried herbs, and in this case wanted to showcase two forage herbs, but in the remaining seasons I would use fresh herbs to fit my fancy.

KEY : The key fact to remember with this recipe is to taste it constantly, especially when you’re experimenting with different combinations of fermented and pickled vegetables, and adjust accordingly.

Mock Strawberry : A Disdained Common Edible

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As a child I used to gobble the “wild strawberries” that, then as now, popped up in our lawn and mulched beds alike. Sure, they didn’t taste like much but they were a pleasant nibble. Perhaps more caution was in order, but the darned things are so inoffensive looking that it would be difficult to suspect them of being hazardous. Older and slightly wiser, nowadays I don’t tend to eat anything without being quite careful about it. In the grocery store, one examines a package. In the wild or the backyard, one makes sure to clearly identify a plant before consuming it.

These wild “strawberries” were of course not true wild strawberries (which are far from flavorless) but the invasive, pernicious ground cover known as Potentilla indica or Duchesnea indica. The confusion over classification is a recent one and Duchesnea is still mainly used. Potentilla seems to be the more accurate fit (though I am hardly a botanist), since that genus contains the cinquefoils whose leaves are used in very much the same way as those of mock strawberry.

Leaves? That’s right. For years and years I have eaten the charmingly inoffensive fruit of the mock strawberry without realizing that the far more interesting and useful part of the plant was staring me in the face. The leaves are an excellent food and tea, tasting faintly of cucumber (with a hint of sage) and widely available for almost the entire year. For years I have let this plant grow wild in my yard and planted beds for the simple fact that it is harmless and excludes other, non-useful weeds. Now? I will definitely encourage its’ growth and use it whenever necessary. Which, honestly could be often–the only plant that grows more prolifically in my yard in the off-season is ground ivy, equally edible but quite bitter once springtime has ended.

So what about those fruits? Many find them banal or insipid, but I consider that a judgement based more on its flavor in comparison with other wild berries or with commercially cultivated fruit. Another common observation is that they taste like watermelon bitten very close to the rind. That rings true to me, and also implies the thing I do really like about mock strawberry, which is its’ pleasing texture. Too often we are disdainful of things which have mild or inoffensive tastes. I have a feeling we would be less disdainful if we did not have such a surplus of food. Then we might be quite pleased to have a plant which is edible in the Northeast in one form or another for almost the entire year.

When we forage we learn a lot of lessons about plants and our relationship with them. Mock strawberry is a good example : as much as we might despise this little scrubby ground cover, we can potentially (no pun intended) learn from it and its’ ways. Sometimes the best and most useful plants are those which we most ignore. I have always tolerated and sometimes enjoyed mock strawberry as an invasive plant which excluded far more annoying weeds. Now I just might let it run riot, and delight in the free surplus of winter greens and summer berries. Insipid? Maybe. But when you’re starving don’t come over and scoop up my “mock” strawberries. I’ll still be enjoying them, tasteless or not.

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