Asparagus are varieties that maintain their quintessential textural and flavor qualities even at mature sizes. They have plump pale green stalks with knobby scales and tree shaped tips. They are firm in texture with balsam aromatics and their flavor is grassy, nutty and earthy sweet.
Asparagus are available year-round, the peak of this crop's season is in spring. Ontario crops are sparse due to the unique farming techniques.
All asparagus spears should be snapped at their natural breaking or bending point. Discard the lower parts as they are more fibrous and woody. Jumbo asparagus can be sauteed, steamed, boiled, baked and fried. Spring ingredients such as morel mushrooms, green garlic, wild ramps, fennel, leeks, young lettuces and citruses such as lemon and grapefruit are most suitable pairings. Other complimentary ingredients include aged nutty cheeses such as pecorino and alpine cheeses, bacon, sausage, lamb, proscuitto, cream, eggs, butter, shallots, herbs such as thyme, basil and chervil, yeasty breads like sourdough and wheat and grains such as aborio rice, quinoa and farro.
Hass avocados have a pebbly skin that ripens from green to deep purple or nearly black, and they can vary in size from 5 to 12 ounces. Although the skin is thick, it is relatively easy to peel. The flesh closest to the skin is pale green, and as it nears the medium-sized central stone it develops a yellow undertone. The flesh is soft, creamy, and barely fibrous, with good oil content. The flavor is rich and nutty with a slightly sweet finish.
Hass avocados are available year-round.
Avocados are most often used raw, as the tannins in the fruit can result in a bitter flavor after prolonged cooking or exposure to direct heat. Avoid broiling, and add avocado toward the end of cooked applications. Avocados can be mashed, cubed, sliced, pureed, or halved and stuffed. Add avocado slices to sandwiches or salads, or mash with lime juice, onion, tomato, cilantro, salt, and other spices to make guacamole. The high fat content of avocados pairs well with acidic fruit and vegetables, like tomatoes. To prepare the avocado for use, cut in half lengthwise around the central stone, twist the two halves in opposite directions to separate, then remove the pit with a spoon and peel away skin. Store avocados at room temperature until fully mature. Whole, ripe avocados will keep for two to three days in the refrigerator, while cut avocados will keep for a day or two. Avocado flesh darkens when exposed to air, so to prevent discoloration sprinkle cut avocados with lemon juice or vinegar and cover in plastic wrap before refrigerating.
Green beans are long and flat and can grow up to ten inches in length, though will be at their best flavor and texture when picked at six to eight inches. The bean pods are smooth and have a bright green exterior which encases a crisp, slightly juicy interior and petite undeveloped seeds or beans. These beans are typically consumed when they are immature and tender, older beans will become too fibrous for consumption. Many green bean varieties need to be stringed first to remove the long string that runs along the sides of the bean. There are some newer varieties of green beans though that have been breed for convenience to be string-less. The green bean plants are also known for their vibrant scarlet and white blooms which are edible as well and offer a fresh and light bean flavor.
English green beans are available in the summer and early fall months. With some availability year-round.
Green beans are most often served cooked unless picked when very young and immature at which point they can be utilized like snap beans. The beans are typically first stringed then cut into short lengths using a knife or bean slicer. The cut beans can be boiled, steamed, baked, sauteed and braised. Chopped beans can be added to quiche, curry, stews, sautes and casseroles. The flowers of the English Runner bean plant can be consumed as well and are popularly used as a garnish or added to salads. Their flavor pairs well with onion, leeks, potatoes, lemon, garlic, peaches, vinegar, butter, mustard, cumin, ginger, curry, nutmeg, tarragon, parmesan cheese, bacon, white fish and lamb. English Runner beans should be stored in the refrigerator and are best if used within two to three days.
Gold beets are medium to large in size and are globular to round with a slightly flattened, irregular shape. The roots are connected to long and crisp, leafy green stems that are also edible and have a flavor similar to spinach and swiss chard. The root?s skin is semi-rough, covered in marks, russet, and scratches, and ranges in color from a deep orange to a mixture of gold, brown, and pale yellow. The skin is also firm with many small hairs covering the surface. Underneath the skin, the flesh is bright yellow to gold, dense, and aqueous with pale concentric rings. When raw, Gold beets are crunchy, and when cooked, they develop a tender, smooth consistency with a very mild and sweet flavor.
Gold beets are available year-round, with a peak season in the spring.
Gold beets can be consumed raw and are popularly shaved, shredded, julienned, or spiralized into salads, slaws, and soups. They can also be pickled for extended use, pureed for sauces, or blended into smoothies. When utilized in cooked preparations, Gold beets can be steamed with lemon juice, roasted for a caramelized consistency, or sliced and baked into thin chips. It is important to note that the skin should be removed before eating and is easily peeled once cooked. Gold beets may also be used as a red beet substitute is some recipes. In addition to the roots, Gold beet leaves are edible and are lightly sauteed, served as a side dish, layered under cooked meats, or tossed into a salad. Gold beets pair well with cheeses such as goat, feta, and manchego, meats such as poultry, fish, and bacon, apples, fennel, herbs such as dill, parsley, and mint, citrus, potatoes, shallots, vinegar, and walnuts. The roots will keep 2-3 weeks with the leaves removed and stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator, and up to one week when stored with the tops still attached. The green leaves will only keep 1-2 days once removed from the roots and stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Red beets vary in size, typically averaging 3-7 centimeters in diameter, and have a globular to ovate shape with a small taproot extending from the non-stem end. The firm skin is dark red to purple and is semi-smooth with tiny root hairs, russet, and scrapes covering the surface. Each beet varies in texture and shape depending on growing conditions. Underneath the surface, the flesh is a deep crimson and is dense, aqueous, and crunchy. When cooked, Red beets develop a tender, soft texture with a mildly sweet, earthy flavor. The beet plant also grows leafy stalks that are edible and have a taste similar to Swiss chard.
Red beets are available year-round.
Red beets are popularly consumed raw in salads or are utilized in cooked applications such as roasting, steaming, frying, and boiling. It is important to note that Red beets will bleed a dark red hue when raw or cooked, and this liquid has the potential to stain surfaces and skin. The roots can be roasted and incorporated into soups, burgers, and quiche, cooked into pasta, blended into sauces, or sliced thinly into wedges and fried into chips. Red beets can also be mixed into hummus or used in baked goods such as cupcakes, cheesecake, tarts, and brownies. In addition to the roots, the leaves are also edible, commonly sauteed or used in salads, and are prized for their tender, crisp texture. Red beets pair well with fruits such as raspberries, blueberries, pears, and avocados, greens such as kale, spinach, arugula, and pea shoots, cheeses such as pecorino, goat, brie, and gorgonzola, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. The roots will keep 2-3 weeks with the leaves removed and stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. With the leaves still attached the roots will keep up to one week. The green leaves will only keep 1-2 days once removed from the roots and stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Brussels sprouts are compact rounded leaves tightly bound into individual spherical-shaped heads ranging in diameter of one to two inches when mature. Their leaves range from sea green to fern green, some varieties featuring blushed violet red tips. They offer the flavors of the earth and the bitter sweetness of cabbage. The younger the Brussels sprouts carry a sweeter more palatable flavor.
Brussels sprouts are available year-round.
Classic cooking methods for Brussels sprouts include roasting, braising or pan frying them in butter with savory accoutrements such as garlic, shallots, thyme, rosemary and sage. Brussels sprouts take on the accompanying flavors which gives them more depth and appeal while also bringing sweetness to the Brussels sprouts. Slow roasting the sprouts in oil or butter is a great way to remove the sprout's natural bitterness. The smaller the sprout, the more sweet and the less bitter tendencies it will have. Brussels sprouts can be added to casseroles, gratins, soups and they are a great addition to Winter roasted vegetable medleys. They can also be tossed into a warm winter greens salad. Other choice culinary companions include bacon, pork belly, cheese, cream, duck fat, eggs, ham, grapefruit, olive oil,cider vinegar, lemon, hollandaise, maple, mushrooms, mustard, nutmeg, pepper, pistachios and pancetta.
Green cabbage has numerous pale green leaves that are thick and broad with prominent veins and a slightly waxy finish. They overlap to form a dense round to oblate ball and can measure 15 to 18 centimeters in diameter and may weigh up to 10 pounds or 3.6 kilograms each. The leaves are firm when raw and tender when cooked. Green cabbage offers a sweet, grassy flavor with a mustard like finish referred to as ?cruciferous,? a trademark characteristic of Brassicas.
Green cabbage is available year-round.
Green cabbage can be eaten raw, cooked and pickled. It is often showcased in coleslaw's, braising greens and salad mixes. Green cabbage can be juiced, wilted, braised, roasted, stir-fried and grilled. It pairs well with rich ingredients such as pork, cream, aged and blue cheeses, butter, eggs, olive oil avocados and nuts. Other companion ingredients include citrus, mango, chilies, garlic, shelling beans, faro, sausages, mushrooms, ginger, fennel, shallots and light-bodied vinegar's. Green cabbage is used to make sauerkraut and in Asia is often pickled. Large leaves are used as wrappers for cabbage rolls or as bread alternatives for sandwich wraps. The head can be cut into slices, coated with oil, salt and pepper and then grilled. Store heads of Green cabbage in the refrigerator for up to a month. Cut pieces can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Red cabbage is distinguished by its coloring, texture and flavor. Like Green cabbage it is rounded and wrapped in tightly wound waxy leaves. The leaves are more violet and Burgundian versus true red. Their flavor is far more bold, cruciferous and peppery versus green cabbage. Red cabbage lacks water weight, which makes its leaves chewier and coarser than Chinese cabbage varieties.
Red cabbage is available year-round.
Red cabbage is a staple within the European and New World culinary landscape. It is used in preparations both raw and cooked. It is often pickled fresh and made into sauerkraut. Red cabbage is complimented by varying textures and flavors rich, bold and spicy, such as stewed and grilled meats, cream, olive oil, butter, eggs and cheeses, avocados and chilies. Other companion ingredients include citrus, nuts, garlic, shelling beans, farro, sausages, mushrooms, ginger, fennel, shallots and light-bodied vinegar's.
Cauliflower is made up of tightly bound clusters of florets that form a dense head, similar to that of broccoli. Resembling a classic tree in shape the clusters sprout from stems which are attached to a singular central white trunk. The stems and trunk are firm and tender and the florets have a dense yet soft and crumbly texture. Its flavor is mild with subtle nutty and sweet nuances, a taste which is amplified when roasted. The entire cauliflower, its leaves, trunk, stems and florets are all edible.
Cauliflower is available year-round with a peak season during late winter months.
Cauliflower can be eaten raw or prepared in several ways including, steamed, roasted, fried and pickled. To prevent cauliflower and other white-fleshed vegetables such as salsify and celeriac from turning brown before cooking, soak the cauliflower in milk and water with a dose of lemon juice. Cauliflower?s relatively mild flavor pairs well with strong spices such as cardamom, cumin, curry, saffron, garlic, onion, ginger, sea salt and pepper. Once boiled or steamed, it can be pureed in to a velvety texture appropriate for soups, side dishes and incorporated into sauces. Use within a few days of purchase for optimal freshness, texture and flavor.
Most likely the Pascal or Utah varieties, celery can grow to optimal heights from 18" to 24". It has wide parsley-like green leaves and thick, juicy, ribbed stalks that join at a common base above the root. Celery, at its best, has a juicy and crunchy flesh with a mild salty flavor. Although celery is most often used for its stalks, its leaves are edible as well and have a concentrated celery-flavor.
Celery is available year-round.
Celery is commonly used as an aromatic, or in mire poix bases, but should not be overlooked as a vegetable. Cook diced celery with onions or apples, potatoes and cream and puree into soup. Braise sliced celery in vegetable stock and wine, or bake with cream and cheese into a gratin. Combine raw celery slices with citrus segments and grains for a cold salad. Stuff 3-4 inch slices of celery with cheese or hummus for an appetizer. Store celery, head intact, in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks
Hot House, commonly referred to as English, cucumbers are elongated, thin, and cylindrical with the ability to reach over 60 centimeters in length. The outer skin is forest green with a smooth and furrowed texture. The inner flesh is pale green to translucent white and contains many underdeveloped and non-bitter seeds. Hot House cucumbers have a mild and sweet flavor with a crisp texture.
Hot House cucumbers are available year-round.
Hot House cucumbers can be used in both raw and cooked applications. They can be sliced and used as a salad ingredient alongside mixed greens, kale's, and herbaceous greens such as arugula. Hot House cucumbers are a great textural component in pasta salads, sandwiches, dips, and sushi. They can be sliced lengthwise, width wise, diced, and julienned. Hot House cucumbers can also be grilled, pureed, pickled, or briefly cooked and added to soups. Complimentary ingredients include red and white fish, shellfish, lamb, beef, chilies, tomatoes, mint, oregano, yogurt, garlic, cumin, chicken, pork and fresh cheeses such as feta, ricotta and farmhouse style cheeses. Hot House cucumbers will keep up to a week when stored in the refrigerator.
Mini Persian cucumbers are cylindrical and squat, averaging only 10-15 centimeters in length. Its outer skin is dark green and thin with visible, shallow ridges. The inner flesh is light green with a firm and moist texture and very few, undeveloped seeds. Persian cucumbers provide a sweet and mild taste with a pronounced crunch.
Persian cucumbers are available year-round.
Persian cucumbers can be used in both raw and cooked applications. They can be used raw as a salad ingredient, chopped in salsas, and mixed in creamy dressings. It can also be used on Greek salad pizzas, cooked in a stir-fry, or juiced and used in cocktails and Popsicle recipes. Persian cucumbers are a great cooling ingredient in hot dishes and compliment roasted fish and lamb. Persian cucumbers pair well with mint, chilies, mustard, cumin, coriander, parsley, sprouts, watercress, jicama, melon, citrus and fresh cheeses such as chevre, feta, and cotija. Persian cucumbers will keep up to a week when wrapped and sealed in the refrigerator.
Purple eggplants are oval with a bulbous flat bottom that narrows towards the calyx and averages 25 centimeters in length and 5-12 centimeters in diameter. The outer skin is glossy, smooth, black-purple, and has a green stem. The inner flesh is cream colored with a spongy-firm texture and there many edible seeds. When cooked, Purple eggplants are tender and mild with a slightly bitter taste.
Purple eggplants are available year-round with a peak season in summer.
Purple eggplants are best suited for cooked applications such as grilling, pan frying, baking, broiling, sauteing, and roasting. They are popularly prepared by breading and frying and used as a meat substitute in pasta dishes, stir-fries, and burgers. They can also be slow cooked in stews and dishes with rice, meat, and vegetables. Purple eggplants pair well with tomatoes, squashes, peppers, stewed meats, grilled and baked fish, chicken, chickpeas, lentils, herbs such as basil, mint, cilantro, and parsley, as well as cheeses such as fresh cow's milk and aged sheep's cheese. Purple eggplants will keep up to three days when stored in a cool and dry place.
Fennel, an upright perennial herb that grows three to ten feet tall. The plant contains thick, ribbed, hollow stems that grow from its rooted bulb (known as the crown). Green branches and feathery foliage sprout off the stems. As the plant matures it creates an umbrella-shaped cluster of bright yellow flowers. Every element of the Fennel plant from crown to flower is edible. It has a sweet, licorice-like flavor and citrus notes. Fennel is often harvested for its smaller bulbs, which are the most fragrant and succulent.
Fennel is available year-round with a peak season during the fall and winter months.
Fennel is entirely edible. Cook the stalks as you would the bulb, or top dished with chopped fronds for garnish. Thoroughly rinse Fennel as dirt can become lodged inside while it's growing. Slice and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast with other root vegetables. Shave or thinly slice and add raw to green salads, with blood orange segments and olives. Saute with onions as a base for risotto. Slice and layer with onions and mustard seeds in a pastry crust for a savory tart. Dice and cook slowly in olive oil until caramelized, then toss with fresh pasta. May also be used in sweet preparations: add to custards and freeze into ice cream. Fennel will keep, dry, in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Common garlic bulbs range from medium to large, averaging anywhere between 5-8 centimeters in diameter, and consist of several cloves arranged in a number of layers depending on the variety. Each clove of garlic is encased in its individual wrapper, and the bulb itself has layers of thin, flakey wrappers to protect the cloves. Often referred to as the "stinking rose," whole Common garlic actually has a very mild allium scent and taste. However, Once the cloves are crushed or pressed, enzyme compounds are released, producing a sulfur-based molecule known as allicin, which is responsible for giving garlic its renowned pungent aroma and flavor.
Garlic is available year-round.
Ginger is a knobby, multiple branched rhizome found in many different shapes and sizes. The skin ranges in color from light to dark tan, depending on the variety, and is semi-rough with occasional callouses and rings ridged along the surface. The thickness of the skin is directly related to whether the rhizome was picked early or mature. Underneath the skin, the flesh is firm, fibrous, and ranges in color from yellow to brown. The rhizome is also highly fragrant with a warm, woody scent. When fresh, Ginger is juicy and crunchy with a pungent, spicy, and slightly sweet taste.
Ginger is available year-round.
Ginger can be utilized in both raw and cooked applications and is most often used as a spice or herb in fresh, dried, ground, pickled, or powdered form. When raw, the rhizome can be minced and added to smoothies, shredded and mixed into salads, noodle dishes, or tofu dishes, and blended into dressings and marinades. Ginger can also be used in cooked applications, tossed into soups, curries, roasts, and stews, baked into cookies, bread, and muffins, or used to flavor meats, gravies, and vegetable dishes. In addition to culinary dishes, Ginger is often used as a flavoring for beer, tea, candies, and lozenges, or it can be pickled and paired with fresh seafood or kimchi. Ginger pairs well with meats such as poultry, beef, pork, and fish, other seafood, carrots, Brussels sprouts, spinach, lentils, chickpeas, cranberries, and chocolate. The rhizome will keep for one month when stored in a paper or plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. The rhizome can also be grated and frozen.
Broccoli grows like a tree with a thick, edible trunk that sprouts leaves, or branches and clusters of small, tight flower heads that turn bright green when cooked. Once fully mature or bolting, the flower buds will sprout golden yellow edible flowers.
Broccoli is harvested year-round, though it is a cool weather crop with a peak season from October through April.
Broccoli can be eaten fresh or cooked and is mild enough to be paired with numerous flavors and textures. Saute carrots, onions and celery in a pot, add chopped broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and vegetable stock then cook until softened and puree into soup. Add chopped broccoli florets to egg custard, pour into par-baked tart shell and bake until set. Toss fresh broccoli with grated carrots and a mayo-based dressing for a cold salad. Cook chopped broccoli with cream, then puree and strain into a sauce for seafood or pasta. Broccoli will keep, refrigerated for up to a week.
Broccolini also known as aspiration or sweet baby broccoli, has spear-shaped, thin and tender vibrant green stems with lengths that rarely exceed six inches long. The head is a loose small cluster of florets that resemble broccoli rabe. Compared to common broccoli, the flavor of Broccolini is understated, mild, peppery and subtlety sweet. The entire plant is edible.
Broccolini is best in the spring and summer months, but available year-round.
Broccolini Aspirations are a more versatile vegetable than common broccoli as they were bred to be more tender but also to withstand higher heat. Broccolini can be sauteed, steamed, roasted, grilled and fried. It makes a great appetizer, pasta or risotto ingredient and pizza topping. Broccolini's flavor marries well with butter, olive oil, lemon, lime, light-bodied vinegar's, garlic, tomatoes, chilies, cured meats such as pancetta and prosciutto, flaky white fish, hard cheeses such as parmesan and pecorino or fresh cheeses such as goat cheese and feta.
Palm tree-like fronds are a characteristic of the Black kale. Also called Italian Black Cabbage, these curly-edged leaves grow out of a central stalk. When the central stalk is harvested, mini-black cabbages are produced on the stalk. This variety offers its very own subtle green cabbage flavor that has a tangy bite with an almost sweet aftertaste.
Black kale is best late fall through spring, but available year-round.
Young raw Black kale leaves are tasty in salads. Pairs well with beans or pork. Cook until soft in olive oil with a generous amount of garlic for a palate-pleasing side dish. To use Black kale leaves as food wrappers, blanch leaves briefly in lightly salted water. Place cubes of favorite cheese in leaf; wrap and bake. Risotto is superb wrapped in kale leaves as are shrimp and scallops.
Kale is a non-heading, leafy form of wild cabbage that comes in a range of shapes, sizes, and colors, such as blue-green, yellow-green, white, red, or purple. Different cultivars are classified by differences in their stem length and their leaf structure, as some are flat and others are frilly. The standard Kale we usually find in the grocery store is pale to deep green with large, ruffle-edged leaves and long stems. It is hardy and fibrous when fully mature, and tender enough to be used as a raw salad green when young. The pale green stems are tough and typically removed, while the tightly curled leaves are chewy yet succulent. Depending on the variety, Kale can sometimes be spicy, other times a bit sweet, and usually slightly bitter. In general, Kale offers an earthy flavor with a nutty sweetness that is accentuated when cooked.
Kale is available year-round with a peak season in winter.
Considering its many forms and stages of harvest, Kale is an incredibly versatile green in the kitchen, and can be used raw or cooked. Young Kale leaves add an earthy flavor to raw salad green mixes, and fully mature Kale is one of the few leafy greens that doesn?t shrink much when it?s cooked. It?s great sauteed, roasted, stewed, and even baked into Kale chips. Just be careful not to over-cook it, as it can develop a more bitter taste. Kale is also often added raw to smoothies, juices, and salads. To prep Kale for use, whether raw or cooked, first remove the tough and fibrous stems. A quick and dirty way to do it is to hold the stem in one hand and strip leaves along the stem away from you. You can also cut the leaves into thin, confetti-like ribbons. A quick massage can help the process of breaking up the cellulose structure of Kale. You can drizzle it with olive oil, salt, and lemon juice, and rub the leaves together in your hands to get a slightly sweeter, much silkier Kale. This leafy green pairs well with garlic, onion, sesame, soy sauce, ginger, smoked or roasted meats, potatoes, grains, oregano, thyme, red pepper, cream, Parmesan cheese, and more. To store Kale, wrap the leaves in a loose bundle with a paper towel or a thin cotton kitchen towel, place them in a large, seal-able bag, and refrigerate in the crisper drawer for up to a week.
Rapini, also known as Broccoli Rabe, is a cool season turnip plant with no bulb development. It should be harvested before florets form and flowers bolt. It has roughly textured, spiked, green leaves that have a pungent almost bitter flavor that mellows and becomes almost nutty when cooked. In fact, it is referred to as a "cooking green".
Available year-round, Rapini's peak season is from late fall through early spring.
Cooking is the first step in taming this bitter green and softening its texture. It is best suited for wilting by steaming, blanching or slow simmering and adding it to baked dishes and pastas. Rapini benefits greatly from three simple additions: salt, fat and spice. It pairs well with rich creamy sauces, bacon, parmesan, olive oil, lemon and garlic.
Greens Swiss chard has broad wavy and crinkled green leaves with snow white stalks and veins flowing throughout the foliage. The leaves are succulent and tender, their flavor far less robust than other pigmented varieties, which is why Green Swiss chard has been nicknamed "Butter chard". The white stalks are equally as edible with a mild salty favor, lacking the bitterness common with colored varieties.
Green Swiss chard is available year-round.
Green Swiss chard can be eaten raw when young, but larger leaves are best cooked. They can be sauteed, blanched, stewed, braised, baked, and even grilled. Use raw leaves to add an earthy saltiness in green salad mixes. Slow cook entire stalks similarly to collards and compliment with smoked meats and white beans. Wilt the shredded leaves into pastas or atop pizzas and flat-breads. The stalks are as equally edible as the leaves, and may be used in dishes for added texture. Complimentary flavors include citrus, tomatoes, garlic, shallots, chickpeas, white beans, potatoes, aged and melting cheeses, cream, mushrooms, bacon, sausage, ham, chili flakes, fennel and herbs such as basil, tarragon and chervil.
Basil leaves are vibrant green, heart shaped and can be harvested when as petite as half an inch and as large as up to four inches in length. Basil has highly aromatic qualities and flavor profiles; the wide range of distinctive fragrances within its chemical makeup emit notes of citrus, clove, anise and cinnamon, all providing a sensory memory that sets basil apart from other herbs.
Basil is available year-round.
Basil is a delicate herb that can be used whole, chopped, crushed into a paste or dried; though it loses much of its aromatic properties when dried. It is most commonly used raw in fresh applications or when finishing cooked preparations as heat alters the flavor and color of the herb. Add strands of Basil to chopped, stacked and bread salads. Serve chopped atop pizza, pasta, chicken and fish. Combine with pistachios, pine nuts and/or walnuts to make a creamy pesto sauce. The aromatic flavor of Basil pairs well with tomatoes, garlic, onion, corn, pear, mint, strawberry and cow?s milk cheeses. Basil will keep, dry and refrigerated, for up to a week but is best when used immediately.
Chives grow in clusters, their blade-like leaves growing straight upward. The green leaves are hollow, and come to a point. Chives can grow up to two feet tall in ideal conditions, and can spread out up to 12 inches around. They have a mild onion flavor, that doesn?t tend to leave a long aftertaste. Chives sport globular spiky, pinkish-purple flowers in the early summer months, which are also edible and share the same mild onion taste. Some varieties of Chives have white and red flowers.
Chives are available year-round.
Chives are used as both a garnish and as an aromatic herb. Typically, Chives are added at the end of the cooking process because they lose flavor when heated. Chives pair well with parsley, tarragon, and chervil, which together make up the well-known French ?fines herbes?. Bundled together, the herbs are added to stocks and soups, and removed at the end of the cooking process. Fines herbs are also used fresh, chopped and mixed and added to salads. Add chopped Chives to potato dishes, quiches, scrambled eggs, or a bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese. Give butter a hint of flavor by adding Chives and use it on baked potatoes, steaks or use it as a rub for chicken. Preserve Chives by either chopping and dry-freezing (in an airtight or vacuum sealed bag) or add to vinegar, for use as a salad dressing or marinade. Add chopped Chives to olive or another oil to use as a dip for crusty bread. Fresh Chives can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, as long as they are kept dry, for up to a week.
Cilantro is also known as Chinese Parsley or Coriander, and is virtually used in every cuisine around the world. The leaves of Cilantro have small serrated edges that extend off a single stem. Cilantro's flavor can be described as a combination of parsley and citrus-like notes.
Cilantro is available year-round.
Dill averages 90 cm tall with wispy fern-life leaves. It has a flavor likened to the combination of anise, parsley, and celery with a mild lemon finish. The plant produces lacy yellow flowers that grow in flat-topped clusters called umbels. The blossoms have a fresh sour characteristic much like the herb itself and the dill pickles that they are synonymous with. Their flavor profile is a cross of lemon and parsley with mild anise notes.
Dill is available year-round.
Italian parsley is a leafy herb that grows small in stature, around one foot tall and about the same around. The multi-branched Italian parsley has bright green stems that are tender when young and grow woody as the plant matures. The leaves are triangular, flat, and deeply toothed, divided into three sections with multiple leaves growing along the tops of the stems. The flat-leafed variety is hardier than the curly variety and it has a stronger aroma and flavor that is slightly less bitter. The flavor is often described as fresh and green, with hints of citrus, clove and nutmeg and an earthy taste. In its 2nd year, Italian parsley will flower, with circular bunches of small white flowers atop thin stems.
Italian parsley is available year-round.
Italian parsley stems are traditionally included in a chef?s ?bouquet garni,? a bundle of herbs used to infuse flavor into soups, stocks, brine's and sauces. The leaves are often reserved for garnish, or added at the end to soups for a fresh green taste. Italian parsley holds up to cooking better than the curly variety, so it is often preferred when using in recipes for hot dishes. Add fresh sprigs to stocks and sauces; use just the stems in a lightly colored sauce to keep the leaves from coloring the dish. Chop the flat-leafed parsley and add to tabbouleh or mix with rice and dill for stuffed grape leaves. Use Italian parsley in marinades and dressings, coleslaw's and potato dishes. Italian parsley should be rinsed under cool water to remove any dirt before use. Store unwashed Italian parsley in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic for up to a week.
Mint is grown for its aromatic and flavorful leaves. Oval and serrated, the leaves of mint are indented with veins and come to a point. They impart a fresh clean scent and a strong mint flavor with sweet overtones. Leaves are commonly bright to dark green in color but some varieties can be purple, gray-green or even pale yellow. If allowed to flower mint will produce white and lavender to purple petite blooms. Young leaves will have the best flavor and texture, leaves allowed to mature on the plant for too long will become bitter and woodsy in flavor. The cool taste and sensation mint imparts is a result of the naturally occurring compound, menthol contained in the herb.
Mint is available year-round.
Mint is used fresh and dried for both sweet and savory dishes. Infuse syrups or blend into cocktails, yogurt, whipped creams and sorbet. Use as an aromatic garnish on food and beverages. Add to fresh fruit, green or grain salads. It is a popular herb for use in Turkish, Indian, Vietnamese, Greek and Persian cuisines. Its flavor pairs well with citrus, berries, seafood, lamb, melons, peas, beans, summer squash, chocolate and aged sheep's milk cheeses. Mint is delicate and bruises easily; keep cool and dry in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Rosemary is pine-scented herb, that grows into a small shrub that can reach up to four feet in height in an ideal climate. The plant produces flat, needle-like leaves that are about one-inch in length, green in color with a silver-grey sheen on the underside. Rosemary?s needle-like leaves grow in thick rows, straight upward on multi-branched, woody stems. The fragrance is very pungent, with a bitter and astringent, pine-like taste. When mature, white or blue, two-lipped flowers bloom at the tops of the stems. Rosemary is generally harvested prior to flowering.
Rosemary is available year-round.
Rosemary has a wide variety of uses. It is a potent herb, and should be used sparingly. In culinary applications, Rosemary pairs well with other herbs, but can be used lightly on its own. After cleaning and drying, remove the herbs by holding the stem at the top and running your fingers along the stem backwards. Finely chop Rosemary and add it to eggs, cheeses, and roasted potatoes. Use it to flavor stuffed meats or chicken, and vegetables. Add fresh sprigs of Rosemary to soups and stocks for its aroma and flavor, removing the stems at the end of cooking. The astringent nature of Rosemary makes it an ideal herb for flavoring fatty meats like lamb or oily fish. Rosemary is a common herb for flavoring breads and savory muffins. Flavor vinegar's and oils with sprigs of Rosemary, this also preserves the herb. To store, keep fresh sprigs of Rosemary wrapped in a damp paper towel or in ice cube trays filled with oil or stock for future use. Dried Rosemary will keep for up to six months when stored in an airtight container.
Thyme is a delicate herb in appearance. Its tiny rounded leaves grow in clusters around its thinly wooded stems. The leaves measure a mere one-eighth inch in diameter. Younger leaves are bright green and fade to grey-green with age. Thyme's flavor counters its appearance with bold nuances of its essential oil, thymol. Its delivers layers of woodsy, savory and mint flavors. Thyme retains its flavor better than most herbs when dried, but fresh thyme is still preferred.
Thyme is available year-round.
Thyme is used to season stocks, stews and soups. Thyme can be used as a stand alone herb or in savory combinations. Use to flavor marinades with sea salt, rosemary, lemon zest and olive oil. Thyme pairs well with seafood, red meat and poultry. Thyme releases its flavors slowly so it is favored in slow and long cooking application. Add to root vegetables and autumn fruits, or infuse in syrups and oils. To store, keep cool and dry until ready to use.
Baby arugula is simply arugula harvested young for its more petit, delicate leaves and flavor. Although not as intense in flavor as its mature counterparts it still retains that peppery essence and mustard quality that distinguishes arugula from other herbs and leafy greens.
Baby arugula is available year-round.
Baby arugula is much more mild than wild, surrey or mature arugula. Toss whole leaves with chopped salad greens, persimmons and goat cheese for a salad. Add baby arugula to hot pizza and serve when wilted. Stir whole leaves into red lentil soup at the end of cooking and serve when they have just wilted. Toss baby arugula with shaved Parmesan and lemon vinaigrette for pepper salad. Keep dry and refrigerated until use.
Baby spinach is bright green with gently rounded leaves like that of the bowl of a spoon, hence the name. The chewy texture of the young leaves is crisp yet succulent. Sweeter than mature spinach, Baby spinach offers a delicate nuttiness with subtle flavor and tender, edible stems.
Baby Spinach is available year-round.
Baby spinach is more delicate that mature spinach and is most often eaten raw in salad preparations. Pair with fresh citrus and berries, nuts, strong cheeses, spring vegetables such as peas and asparagus, or toss with hot past or grains until barely wilted. Baby spinach has a more mild, less metallic flavor than mature spinach and is complimented by vinaigrette's, fresh herbs, garlic, toasted bread and beans. Keep baby spinach cool and dry until ready to use.
Iceberg lettuce is medium to large in size, averaging 25-30 centimeters in diameter, and is spherical in shape, similar to cabbage. The firm head is tightly packed with broad, thick, and crisp leaves that are concentrated with a high-water content. The leaves vary in color depending on the particular cultivar, but the outer leaves are typically light green while the inner leaves range from pale yellow to a translucent white. Iceberg lettuce is crunchy and juicy with a mild, sweet flavor.
Iceberg lettuce is available year-round.
Iceberg lettuce is best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as braising and stir-frying. It is most well-known for its use in a cold wedge salad with Roquefort or blue cheese dressings, but it can also be shredded as a garnish, layered in sandwiches, used as a lettuce cup for fillings such as taco meat, shrimp, or chicken, or used to wrap burgers for a low-carb main dish. When cooked, Iceberg lettuce can be lightly braised or chopped and sauteed into a stir-fry, used similarly to cabbage. Iceberg lettuce pairs well with herbs such as basil, mint, and flat leaf parsley, lemon, honey, tomatoes, shallots, green onions, chives, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, pork, fish, shrimp, grilled chicken, and a classic vinaigrette of olive oil, dried herbs, and cider vinegar. The leaves will keep over a week when stored wrapped in a damp paper towel in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
Spring mix is made up of 16 fresh greens and lettuces of varying tastes and textures, including red romaine, baby spinach, radicchio, green romaine, red oak leaf, mizuna, red leaf, lollo rosso, arugula, red mustard, green mustard, red chard, frisee, and tatsoi. About half of the greens and lettuces are sweet and mild while others provide a complementary slightly bitter edge.
Spring Mix is available year-round with a peak season in spring and summer.
Use as a salad or bed for fresh or grilled fruits and vegetables.
Radicchio resembles a petite head of red cabbage producing variegated dark, burgundy leaves with contrasting white ribs. Growing from orange to grapefruit size and easy to peel, the smooth, crisp leaves offer a bitter flavor with a hint of spice. When cooked the vibrant burgundy color of the leaves fades to a deep brown hue, its bitter flavor is mellowed and rather takes on a subtle sweetness. Only occasionally is this type of chicory given a forced second growth, when utilized though this method will yield a Radicchio with a waxier sheen on its exterior leaves.
Radicchio is available year-round with a peak season mid-winter to early spring.
Cooking Radicchio brings out the vegetable's natural sweetness but it can also be served fresh. It can be chopped and sauteed or halved and grilled. Fresh leaves are sturdy enough to be used whole as a cup or wrap. In Italy Radicchio is classically added to risottos and tomato sauces or simply grilled and dressed in olive oil. The bitter flavor marries well with sweet, sour, fatty and salty accompaniments such as citrus, pear, pomegranate, tomato, balsamic vinegar, walnut oil, anchovies, cream based dressings and sauces, candied pecans, salted meats such as bacon and salami, black pepper and provolone, parmesan and gorgonzola cheeses. To store, keep dry and refrigerate for one to two weeks.
Romaine lettuce is perhaps the second most recognizable and ubiquitous of all lettuces types, second only to Iceberg. The Romaine hearts are essentially the inner blanched leaves of the romaine plant. They constitute colors of cream, yellow and lime green along the ribs of the leaves. Romaine hearts are chosen for their crunchy, thick-walled succulent leaves.
Romaine hearts are available year-round.
Add to mixed green salads or Caesar salads. Pair with green oak, arugula, frisee, mizuna and other green leaf lettuces. Brush head with vinaigrette and grill for a warm salad or side dish. Use as cup for lettuce wraps. Add to sandwiches and hamburgers. Ideal for dips.
Cremini mushrooms are small to medium in size and have a rounded cap with a short, stubby stem. The smooth cap ranges from light to dark brown and is firm and spongy. Underneath the cap, there are small brown gills, but most of these are hidden as the cap has not fully opened when harvested at the Cremini stage. The short white stem is also edible, dense, thick, and smooth with a slightly rubbery texture. Cremini mushrooms are mild and somewhat earthy with a meaty texture.
Cremini mushrooms are available year-round.
Cremini mushrooms are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as baking, roasting, sauteing, or stewing. They can be sliced raw and mixed into green or grain salads, or they can be stuffed with crab, cheese, or other meats as a bite-sized appetizer. Cremini mushrooms can also be added into sauces, gravies, stir-fries, soups such as hot and sour, stews, baked into tarts, or sliced as a topping on pizza. Cremini mushrooms pair well with tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes, jalapenos, garlic, shallots, onion, ginger, kimchi, lime, sage, parsley, basil, meats such as beef, pork, or poultry, eggs, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, marinara sauce, cream sauce, white wine, rice, orzo, mozzarella, parmesan, and pecorino romano cheese. They will keep up to a week when stored loosely in a paper bag with moist paper towels to prolong freshness in the refrigerator.