You may know Carolyn Cope as Umami Girl. She stops by on Tuesdays with ideas on preparing the abundance of fruits and vegetables you might get from your CSA or the market. —The Mgmt.
Now that summer is here, we've officially lived through spring vegetable fever and made it out alive. With more and more fruits and veggies piled high at the farmers' markets, and CSA boxes bulking up, gone are the days of lustily caressing petite bunches of delicate greens and whispering sweet nothings to one or two fragile pints of supple, yielding strawberries. Been there, eaten that.
But with a few possible exceptions (anyone screening Swiss chard's calls yet?) we're still squarely situated in the honeymoon phase of the growing season, not yet jaded by the constant presence of our increasingly significant other. Our eyes still light up despite ourselves to see a table full of lush greens at the market. We coo a little over blueberries. In the kitchen, we make an effort, choosing recipes that highlight summer squash and leafy greens rather than hiding them in pasta sauce.
Still, in any relationship worth keeping, it pays to be mentally prepared for the long haul. It helps to have a few ground rules, like "For better, for worse, but never for lunch," although something tells me that's not the strongest example given the context. You want to have a few tricks up your sleeve for when the mood inevitably shifts toward familiarity and even a touch of complacency.
Back in March, when this all began, you may have felt more threatened than you would have cared to admit by a rumor you'd heard about a few of your new friends. If you noticed people talking about vegetables playing equally well with savory types as with sweet, you might have willfully maintained your innocence of such complicated matters. Back then, no one would have blamed you. But now is the time to embrace the charming versatility of these five foods, which will serve you well in the months to come.
I love a good strawberry-rhubarb something-or-other as much as the next guy. But with strawberries headed out of season and rhubarb re-upping its lease month to month, don't forget that rhubarb has tremendous potential in savory dishes. It's a vegetable, after all, and when not doused with sugar, it lends a bright acidity to any number of quickly or not-so-quickly cooked meals. Try it with pork or duck, or sautéed with other vegetables in a grain salad. Find lots of inspiration here.