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Recipes & Identification

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Florida Coastal Cooking – this blog will help you easily and deliciously incorporate more veggies and whole foods into your diet in no time!

  • How to Store Vegetables in a Typical Suburban Home
    Here is a list of our seasonal crops, including a picutre for identification, a description, and a link to recipes for each crop.
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    Ajies Dulces (sweet peppers)
    Ají dulce is a small, light green pepper that turns red if left long enough on the plant. In Puerto Rico, it is known as ají dulce or ajicito (sweet pepper and small pepper, respectively, in Spanish). In the Dominican Republic, it is also known as ají gustoso or ají cachucha (tasty pepper, and cap-shaped pepper, respectively, in Spanish). It has the shape and size of a habanero pepper without the intense heat.
    This pepper is used to season dishes and is an important ingredient for sofrito, a sauce used in several Latin American cuisines.

    Arugula
    Of Of Mediterranean origin. Arugula is the Italian name of a salad green with a spicy, almost nutty flavor, is also known as roquette, rugula, rucola or rocket. It can be very gritty so wash well. Considered a "bitter" green it aides digestion and is a calorie bargain at about 3 cal. per half cup! Rich in beta carotene, a very absorbable calcium.

    Beets (with greens)
    Beet greens are almost only available when attached to freshly dug beets. Beets with their greens attached are, in out opinion, one of the great deals (two for one!) Beet greens don't stay fresh very long, so you'll need to use them within a day or two. Use them as you would chard leaves but note that the greens from red beets will stain things (including lighter vegetables) a lovely shade of pink.

    Bok Choy
    Bok Choy is one of the oldest Asian greens, cultivated in China since the 5th century. A great two-in-one vegetable, its mild, crunchy stems require more cooking time and have a very different texture than the tangy, dark green leaves. Both parts are great sautéed, and the stems can be substituted in any recipe that calls for celery, such as stuffing. A member of the crucifer family, bok choy, like other cabbages, is packed with vitamins A and C, as well as folic acid and nitrogen compounds called indoles that may lower the risk of some forms of cancer. The dark green leaves give this veggie more beta carotene and calcium than other cabbages, and it has the added advantage of being very low in calories.

    Broccoli
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    Cabbage
    Chinese cabbages generally have elongated heads with broad, white-stalked, overlapping, savoyed (crinkled) leaves with a mild to slightly piquant flavor and a wonderful crunch. This is the cabbage used in Asian stir-fries. It's also nice raw, in salads.

    Calabaza Squash
    Calabaza is a type of pumpkin-like squash that is round in shape and varies in size. It can be as large as a watermelon or as small as a cantaloupe. The color of calabaza can also vary and may include greens, tans, reds and oranges. Some squash are all one color while other calabaza are multi-colored and may include all of colors listed above. This squash is popular in the Caribbean as well as Central and South America. It is also commonly called a West Indian Pumpkin. Calabaza has a sweet flavor and its texture is firm. This is similar to the taste and texture of more familiar varieties of squash, such as butternut or acorn. Calabaza may be substituted in recipes calling for those more common types of squash.

    Calabaza is most commonly baked, either cut in sections or in cubes. Its seeds may also be roasted in a similar way as pumpkin seeds. Simply place on a baking sheet coated in cooking spray until brown and crisp.

    Carrots
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    Cauliflower Romanesco
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    Chile Padron Peppers
    Padron Chile peppers, pimientos de Padron, are a single heirloom non-hybrid variety of peppers and members of the Capsicum family of Americas.
    Each Padron chile pepper is unique though similar in shape and size with curved and grooved furrows along their skin. Young padrons are crisp, the color of limes, roughly two inches in length and their flavor savory, grassy, piquant and peppery. It is not uncommon to find a firey pepper in the mix (roughly one in 10), making for a bit of Padron roulette. While there is no visual way to tell how hot a young padron pepper will be, as they age, they will deepen in color and eventually, as in many chile varieties, turn fire engine red and intensify dramatically in their heat level. Thus, it is safe to assume that mature padron peppers will be hot.
    Essentially Padron peppers are a finger food. They are most traditionally and appropriately pan-fried in hot olive oil until the skin blisters, finished with sea salt and lemon juice and served stem-on, though the stem is usually discarded. Padrons can be a lively addition to pizzas, salads, pasta, soups, fritattas and rice dishes such as paella. Padrons pair well with creamy sauces, citrus, manchego cheese, other chiles such as smoked chipotles, lobster, shrimp, chorizo, pork, poultry and tomatoes. Large harvests of padron peppers can create the need to pickle or preserve. They can be cooked and preserved, densely packed in olive oil and sea salt or pickled, following basic pickling methods.

    Chinese Broccoli (aka Chinese Kale)
    Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale, is a leaf vegetable featuring thick, flat, glossy blue-green leaves with thick stems and a small number of tiny, almost vestigial flower heads similar to those of broccoli. As the Alboglabra group of Brassica oleracea, kai-lan is of the same species of plant as broccoli and kale. Its flavor is very similar to that of broccoli, but more bitter and a bit sweeter.

    Collards Greens
    Collard greens have broad leaves with solid, firm veins running through them. Traditionally collard greens are cooking an exceptionally long time, fusing the flavors of the greens with cooking aromatics or liquids.

     

    Cucumbers (Seedless and Pickling)
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    Daikon Radish
    Also known simply as White Radish, and in Japan as Daikon, this popular Asian vegetable has no resemblance to the round red radishes we are used to. Instead, Chinese radish, or Raphanus sativus to use its scientific name, resembles a large white carrot. In Japanese cooking, Daikon is a popular ingredient in relishes and salads, while Chinese cooks use it more for soups and stir-fries.  Daikon makes a interesting alternative to potatoes or turnips in soups and stews, as it can withstand long periods of cooking without disintegrating. Nutritionally, it is rich in vitamin C and calcium. Chinese radish is usually peeled and sliced prior to cooking, although some recipes call for it to be grated. Store in the vegetable crisper section of your refrigerator. Wash before using.

    Delicata Squash
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    Eggplant
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    Green Beans
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    Green Onions
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    Hot Peppers
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    Kabocha Squash
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    Kale
    Straight-up kale has broad, curly leaves that are a deep green color. Kale is usually cooked a long time or blanched in salted boiling water before being used to tenderize it, reduce its bitterness, and set its beautiful color.
    Lacinato, black, or Dino kale is very dark green, with remarkably firm, deeply ridged leaves. This kale takes a bit longer to cook than other greens; the upside of which is that the leaves hold their shape even under long cooking times, making it a great addition to soups and stews.

    Kohl Rabi
    These little sputnik-shaped vegetables come in green or purple, can be eaten raw or cooked, and taste a lot like broccoli stems. The word kohlrabi is German for cabbage turnip (kohl as in cole-slaw, and rübe for turnip) though kohlrabi is more related to cabbage and cauliflower than to root vegetables. We usually eat them raw, just peeled, sliced and added to a salad, but they are also delicious cooked and are often used in Indian cuisine.

    Leeks
    Leek has a mild onion-like taste. In its raw state, the vegetable is crunchy and firm. The edible portions of the leek are the white base of the leaves (above the roots and stem base), the light green parts, and to a lesser extent the dark green parts of the leaves. One of the most popular uses is for adding flavor to stock. The dark green portion is usually discarded because it has a tough texture, but they can be sauteed or added to stock.

    Lettuce
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    Mustard Greens
    Mustard greens are the greens of the mustard plant (shocking!). The leaves have a sharp, bright flavor that may just remind you of mustard seeds at their greenest and most piquant. You can mellow the flavor by blanching them in salted boiling water for a minute or two, draining, and then using. Or saute as is for a sharper flavor.

    Okra
    Okra is usually available fresh year-round in the South, and from May to October in many other areas. You can also find okra frozen, pickled, and canned, and in some regions you might find frozen breaded okra for deep frying. When buying fresh okra, look for young pods free of bruises, tender but not soft, and no more than 4 inches long. Okra may be stored in the refrigerator in a paper bag or wrapped in a paper towel in a perforated plastic bag for 2 to 3 days, or it may be frozen for up to 12 months after blanching whole for 2 minutes. Cooked okra can be stored (tightly covered) in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

    Onions
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    Peas
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    Poblano Peppers
    Poblano Peppers are usually used in sauces, salsas, and stuffing mixes. The membranes and seeds of Poblano peppers is where most of the heat is found. So, if you don’t want it to be quite so spicy, be sure to take the veins and seeds out before using the pepper.
    For Poblano peppers it is best to roast them with a little olive oil or grill them until they are soft enough to peel the skin from the pepper. To do this without a lot of hassle it is best to roast the Poblanos with a little olive oil then place them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap so the steam helps to separate the skin from the flesh. Before long the skin will be soft enough to peel off in sheets. Some recipes will call for searing Poblanos until the skin is black by placing them in a broiler or over an open flame.
    Poblanos can be stored and even frozen in airtight containers for many months until you are ready to use them. You can also choose to dry the peppers out for later use. Dried Poblanos are also known as Ancho chiles, which means wide chile in the Spanish language. They are given this name because when Poblano peppers are dried they become very flat, wide, and heart-shaped.

    Potatoes
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    Radishes
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    Rutabaga
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    Search for rutabaga recipes
    Rutabaga is a root vegetable that resembles turnip, but they're actually both different. Rutabaga is said to be a cross between wild cabbage and turnip. Rutabaga is a bulbous root vegetable that can be little bit bigger in size, as compared to turnips. The skin as well as the flesh of this vegetable is yellowish in color. The crown of this vegetable sports ridges and sometimes a purple tinge too. Rutabaga taste is often described as sweet and delicate, but, some of them may have a slight bitterness. It also shares the freshness of cabbage and turnips. Even the leaves of this vegetable are said to be nutritious and are used for consumption. As this tuber is rich in dietary fiber, it is said to be effective in combating constipation. It is also good for digestion and in increasing stamina. Another nutritional benefit of rutabaga is that it is rich in potassium, which is good for the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system. Apart from reducing the risk of diseases, like stroke, it is also said to be helpful for normalizing high blood pressure. The most prominent aspect of rutabaga nutrition is the presence of high amounts of vitamin C, which is helpful in preventing diseases, like scurvy. In some regions, rutabaga is used for increasing lactation. Rutabaga contains vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that can fight free radicals in the body. It contains vitamin C in significant amounts and so, is good for nails, skin and hair. But, those with kidney problems must avoid consumption of this vegetable.

     Rutabaga can be cooked in many different ways. It can be roasted sauteed, baked, baked, mashed or steamed. It can also be cut into uncooked juliennes and used in salads. This root vegetable can also be added to soups.


     

    Salad Turnips
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    Eaten raw, they are similiar in texture to a radish, but not so hot. Just a mild peppery sweet flavor. They could also be grated into a slaw (see kohlrabi post). Slice, dice, or quarter them and saute with butter or oil. Cook until just tender and still a little crisp. Just a little salt or maybe a teeny bit of vinegar is all they need. Cooked with butter and given a slight drizzle of honey and they are bona fide kids fare.

    Don’t forget the greens! Turnip greens are tender and flavorful. Chop and saute with the turnips for a side dish, or cook up with other greens, or by themselves. I like them chopped and used in pasta sauces. Wilted with some olive oil, garlic, bacon, a red pepper if you have it, tossed with some pasta and grated cheese.


    Salad Greens
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    Spinach
    Spinach is the quickest cooking of the greens listed here. Unlike the other greens here, spinach is commonly eaten raw as well as cooked.

    Sweet Peppers
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    Sweet Onions
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    Swiss Chard
    Chard is a green with a mild, earthy flavor.  Swiss chard has very dark green leaves punctuated by bright white stems and ribs. The ribs are often cut out and used separately - either in the same recipe or for use in a different recipe. The leaves are delicious simply sautéed, the ribs require a bit more cooking and are often boiled to tenderize them before being used in gratins, casseroles, and other dishes. They can also be used much like celery, chopped and sauteed to add flavor to soups and stews.

    In addition to the leaves, which can be eaten raw or cooked like spinach, the celery-like stems are delicious as well. Chard is very high in vitamin A, with one cup of chopped leaves coming in at over 200% of the recommended daily allowance. In addition, chard is high in vitamin C and iron.

    Tomatoes
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    Turnips (Greens)
    Turnip greens are the greens of turnips (you guessed that, right?). They are a mild, easy to use green that cook quickly. Add to soups, stews, or simply sautee them for a quick side dish.

    Watermelon Radish
    A large round root vegetable related to the turnip and horseradish family, with a crisp texture and a mild to sweet peppery flavor. Unlike many other radishes, the intensity of this radish decreases as the radish matures. Generally, the flesh of this radish is hotter toward the outside and sweeter toward the center. The Watermelon radish grows to approximately three inches in diameter, displaying a white outer skin at the top with green shoulders and a pink base that covers a bright red to magenta inner flesh.
    There are two main categories of radishes commonly known as either spring or winter radishes. The category of each is determined by their growing season and when they are harvested. Spring radishes are harvested early in their growing season resulting in a smaller radish. The winter radishes are harvested later in their growth and result in a larger round or more elongated shaped vegetable. The Watermelon radish is considered to be a spring radish, but may be available throughout the year. This radish can be cooked like a turnip, creamed and served as a side dish, sautéed and braised to be served as a vegetable dish, or added to stir-fry dishes. The skin can be removed prior to preparing. It can also be served raw to be used as hors d'oeuvres, as a complement to salads and sandwiches or diced for use in soups and stews. The color of the inner flesh makes it an attractive sliced radish for an appetizer tray or for sandwiches.

    Yellow Squash
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    Yum Yum Peppers
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    Zucchini
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