Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Kohlrabi, Saute, and CA Quail

I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green.
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse

I am still in awe that from one tiny seed brings forth this life form and with such abundance.

Due to the amount of rain and cooler temperatures in May and June, our vegetable garden seems far behind that of the previous year, but one cannot complain, only make the observation, for it continues to produce.

June Harvest Total = 53.45 lbs
Year to date = 82.16 lbs

1.79 lbs Asparagus
1.0 lb Beets
1.4 lbs Broccoli Packman
7.3 lbs Cabbage Stonehead
3.15 lbs Cauliflower Graffiti
1.9 lbs Chinese Kale
3.25 lbs Kohlrabi
5.43 Kohlrabi leaves
2.2 lbs Onions
3.6 lbs Potatoes
2.0 lbs Spinach
3.9 lbs Salad Greens
9 lbs Shanghai Bok Choy
.4 lbs Tomatoes
5.11 lbs Wild Kale
3.42 lbs Zucchini

Kohlrabi (German: Kohl, cabbage; Rabi, turnip)

Do you grow
Kohlrabi, one of the offerings of the wonderful Brassica oleracea family? I find it to be a fascinating vegetable with its above ground growth, form, and the rather curious upward thrusting leaves.

It comes in various shades of color, and this particular apple green one, Kongo hybrid, grew to about 4 inches across in our garden. It can be cooked, but I prefer to peel the thin outer skin, slice and eat it as a snack; mild, crisp, moist, it is a bit sweeter tasting than broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage.

Chop the smaller/younger leaves and stems (kale-like flavor) for use in a salad, and saute the larger leaves the same as you might with kale or spinach. Being as frugal as I am, discarding anything green, edible and high in nutrients is not part of any plan.

Since it prefers cooler temperatures I'll be starting some seeds for a fall harvest in another month or so. But for today, as the morning temperature rose from 55 degrees F to a current 86, to be followed by the high 90's the next several days, I'm not sure what to expect. Plant shock?

Sauteed Kohlrabi (Kale or Spinach) Leaves from Diana's kitchen

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
3 sweet spring onions, chopped
1 - 2 lbs Kohlrabi leaves or Kale, tougher ribs removed, and leaves chopped into 1-2 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 Tablespoons Red wine vinegar

Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil in a Dutch oven, add chopped onions, touch of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and saute for several minutes over medium heat. Add chopped kohlrabi (or kale) and cook on medium high heat, tossing with two utensils for several minutes until all is coated and bright green.

Reduce the heat to medium and push the leaves aside; add another tablespoon of olive oil to the empty side and add the diced garlic, a pinch of salt, crushed red pepper flakes and cook for about a minute. (Be careful not to burn the garlic.)

Add the vegetable broth and heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until desired tenderness. Add red wine vinegar, stir and taste for any additional salt or pepper. And if you have cooked too much, not to worry for it heats up nicely the next day.

Note: We do not remove the rib with kale since we like the crunch, but do so with kohlrabi since it seems tougher. Also, sauteing spinach only takes a very few minutes, and in that case I saute the garlic with the onions. And on occasion I may chop one slice of bacon and brown it as a base for the greens and reduce the amount of olive oil.

California Quail Update

We decided not to disturb the little mother and her clutch of 15 lovely speckled eggs for several days but only observe from a distance. Finally, last evening I had to take a peak. When did this happen? She must have snuck off in the middle of the night, likely hiding those little babes until they learn the tricks of the trade. That sure was quick!