Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Oriental Greens, by Melinda

Tokyo Bekana leaves
We're getting three types of wonderful Oriental greens from our hoophouses this Friday the 25th, though you may or may not be familiar with them already, depending on whether you tried them this past summer. (My, how long ago that heat seems on a frigid day like today!)  But they are *delicious*!  The first one is Tokyo Bekana (see left) a mild-tasting member of the mustard family (as many Oriental greens are); it's related to Chinese bok choi but is even more tender.  In fact, it's so tender that it's quite suitable in salads, yet it also can be used in quick stir-fries or chopped into soups, stews, and so forth.  When Tokyo Bekana is mature, it looks something like a head of celery, with stalks and leaves, but when it's "baby," you get primarily the super-tender leaves.  Yum!

Like its cousin, Tokyo Bekana, our second green, Komatsuna (aka Japanese Mustard Spinach) is also related to mustard (but milder) as well as to the common turnip. It can be used in salads and smoothies, or sauteed, stir-fried, steamed, boiled or pickled.  It too has both stems and leaves at maturity, but more leaf than stem when young.

Yukina Savoy
The third of our greens, Yukina Savoy, shares all these traits, though it looks more like a Tat Soi with a savoyed (crinkled) leaf.  (It becomes more crinkly as it matures--don't we all??!!)  It too can be eaten in salads or in all of the other ways listed above.

All three of these greens are cold-weather growers and don't do well in summer heat.  So hooray for the hoophouse!  There are all kinds of recipes for these greens, savory or sweet, raw or cooked, vegan, vegetarian, or carnivorous.  Also some gluten-free recipes.  Devorah was right:  Google Search is your best friend when it comes to finding such recipes.  Meanwhile, here are a few that exemplify different treatments for the various greens.

Hot Poppin' Tokyo Bekana--vegan and gluten-free (source)

  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small pieces chopped fresh ginger
  • a mound (or mounds) of Tokyo Bekana [you can supplement with other greens if you wish]
  • 2 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown rice vinegar [or regular rice vinegar]
In a wok, warm sesame oil on medium heat. Add sesame seeds & stir till you're overwhelmed w/ the nutty fragrance & the seeds darken [but don't burn!]. Add garlic & ginger, but be careful of the popping, shooting sesame seeds when you add the moist ingredients. After a minute, add the greens by the handful, cooking them down. In 3-5 min. they will still be beautiful, light spring green.  Serve warm.   For more greens recipes, including Tokyo Bekana, click here.

Komatsuna Smoothie--vegan and gluten-free (source)

  • 1 banana
  • 1 pear, cubed
  • small handful flatleaf parsley
  • handful of Komatsuna leaves
  • 8 ice cubes
  • 1 tbsp flax meal
  • hemp milk to cover
Put all ingredients in blender and whiz till smooth.   For more Komatsuna and other Asian-greens recipes, click here.  If you're an omnivore, check out this recipe for a Komatsuna Souffled Omelet.

Moroccan Yukina Savoy Red Quinoa Skillet--serves 6; vegan and gluten-free (source)

  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
  • 2 cans white cannellini beans, drained & rinsed (or equivalent of dry beans, cooked)
  • 2 bunches Yukina Savoy or 4 cups of another green (kale, spinach, bok choi)
  • 1 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 3 cups gluten-free veggie stock
  • 1 handful chopped parsley
Put red quinoa in a bowl of water and soak while preparing the next four steps.  1) Combine paprika, cumin, salt, & pepper in small bowl; set aside.  2) Zest the lemon, juice it, and set them aside separately.  3) Chop Yukina Savoy and set aside separately, along w/ chopped onion and carrots.  4) Heat olive oil in a large skillet or wok on medium heat & saute minced garlic till it's lightly browned. Add onions, lemon zest, & apricots & cook till onions are soft. Drain & rinse the red quinoa & add it to the skillet. Then add lemon juice, carrots, beans, spices, and stock. Raise heat & bring mix to a boil; stir for 3-5 min. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 min. or till the liquid is absorbed. Add chopped Yukina Savoy (or green of your choice), stir to combine, and cover for 5 min. or till the greens have softened. Keep covered, remove from heat, and let it sit for 5 min. Gently stir and serve; garnish with parsley if desired. For two more Yukina Savoy recipes, one vegetarian and one for the carnivores, see here.  For the steak-based recipe of the two, you can also see here.

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