August 31, 2009

Seasonal Ingredients

The more frequently I shop and go to the farmer's market the more inspired I am to cook what's in season and what's freshest. And the more I learn about seasons! I know, I know, I'm on Maui and everything is fresh, but it wasn't always that easily available. Only recently have some of the large supermarket chains such as Safeway started offering Island Fresh produce. And some of the produce in the supermarkets did not necessarily always look like it was even still edible, the markets are doing remarkably better nowadays.

I am so happy to have discovered things like red swiss chard, baby bok choy or jicama and purple sweet potatoes. Red Swiss chard has the largest green leaves and a wonderful stem that is similar to beet greens. I love when I can get fresh sugar snap peas or chinese pea pods. And here on Maui getting fresh Kula corn year round is pretty amazing.

Yet, it is easy to overlook certain vegetables that look intimidating. I know that there are a variety of vegetables at the market, all kinds of leafy greens and other things that I will not even try. Why? I don't have a way to cook them.

So, when I finally decide to try something new I have to come up with a recipe. Sure, it's easier to find something to do with swiss chard. However, I will admit, it took many many months before I bought this vegetable. Why? My mother would never buy it and so I just avoided it. Habit I suppose. I love it. I cut it chiffonade style (See Below) and quickly saute and add lemon and sea salt and serve under fresh fish or with chicken. It's fabulous and colorful and cheaper than spinach.

Chiffonade is a cooking technique in which herbs or leafy green vegetabels are cut into long, thin strips. This is generally acomplished by stacking leaves, rolling them tihgtly, then cutting across the rolled leaves with a shar knife, producing fine ribbons.

Instead of using white potatoes for mashed potatoes try purple ones. And since purple potatoes go well with coconut milk I use that instead of milk or cream. Purple potatoes are firmer and starchier so they take a little longer to cook.
It is easier to go for what you are used to and what you are familiar with. However, if you open your eyes you will discover amazing varieties of vegetables and other ingredients that were always there but you never noticed. It's fun to open your eyes and discover.

And remember, when you get seasonal ingredients they are more abundant and cheaper. Use what is available and eat fresh. It's fun to try something new and good for you too!
Always Fresh, Always Delicious, Always with Aloha!

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