Seasonal Produce – AprilPublished 08 Apr, 2015
April is a great month for healthy, bright, colourful produce. Here’s a few of our favourites.
If autumn were a fruit, it would be persimmon. This beautifully ornamental fruit varies from light orange to deep red and has a subtle flavour that most closely resembles a peach. Persimmons are high in dietary fibre, which makes them a great snack for those working towards a healthy weight as it helps to reduce cravings for sugar and processed foods.
There are two varieties of persimmon:
- Astringent persimmons are high in tannins, which give them a more bitter taste. As they ripen, the flesh becomes soft and jelly-like, which is best eaten fresh, spooned out of the fruit.
- Non-astringent persimmons contain less tannin and can be eaten while still firm and under-ripe, or once ripe and soft.
Persimmons can be made into a paste to accompany cheese, eaten fresh in salads, or the pulp is wonderful mixed into coconut rice pudding.
Humble beetroot owes its deep red colour to high levels of antioxidant betanin and betacyanin, which can help to prevent high blood pressure and protect blood vessels. Beetroot is also high in fibre and folate, and its leaves are an excellent source of vitamin C.
Beetroot can be eaten raw or cooked and is incredibly versatile. Roast it, pickle it, grate it, juice it, make it into dips, or a soup such as traditional Polish borsch. The rich earthy flavours of beetroot work well with the acidity of balsamic and creamy cheeses like feta. It is even becoming a popular ingredient in desserts, such as a chocolate and beetroot cake, which typically uses grated beetroot. The leaves also can be eaten raw or cooked, similar to spinach.
Championed as a super food, brussels sprouts certainly live up to their reputation with high levels of vitamin C and K, important for healthy bones, eyes, skin and circulation, as well as folic acids, vitamin B6, fibre, and essential minerals.
Despite its super food status, brussels sprouts are often top of the list of detested vegetables due to their acquired smokey bitter flavour. However, it is easy to lessen this strong taste by pairing with complimentary flavours such as bacon.
Select brussels sprouts with bright compact leaves and store unwashed in the fridge for up to three days. To prepare, trim the base and discard loose leaves. Many people swear by the old wives trick of cutting a cross into the base of the stem but this can make it easier to overcook.
Popular ways to serve brussels sprouts include boiled or steamed and smothered in butter, stir-fried, roasted, or pickled.
BRUSSELS SPROUTS KIMCHI PUREE & BACON
Thanks to Momofuku for sharing this tasty brussels sprout recipe from Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan. Copyright 2009. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.
I love the dark sweetness and faint bitterness of well-charred brussels sprouts— we toss them in some pureed kimchi, like a sauce, because brussels sprouts, stinky little things that they are, take really well to the funkiness of kimchi. Added in some bacon, ‘cause bacon and Brussels sprouts just go together. It was good, but it looked not good. So we put a big bright pile of julienned carrots on top to give it some color, and away we went.
500g Brussels sprout
100g smoky bacon, cut into 1- to 1 ½ -inch-long batons
1 cup Kimchi, pureed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup julienned carrots
- Preheat the oven to 200°c.
- Remove and discard the loose outer leaves from the sprouts, and cut the sprouts in half through the core.
- Put the bacon in a wide oven-safe sauté pan or skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until just about crisp, 5 minutes or so. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve.
- Drain off most of the fat from the pan and add the sprouts, cut side down. Raise the heat to medium-high and sear until the sprouts begin to sizzle. Put the skillet in the oven and roast until the sprouts are deeply browned, 8 minutes or so, then shake the pan to redistribute them. Pull the pan from the oven when the sprouts are bright green and fairly tender (taste one to check), 10 to 15 minutes more.
- Return the pan to the stovetop over medium heat and stir in the butter, bacon, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss the sprouts to coat them.
- Divide the kimchi among four shallow bowls. Use the back of a spoon to spread the kimchi out so it covers the bottom of the bowls. Divide the sprouts among the bowls, arranging them in a tidy pile on top of the kimchi. Garnish each with a pile of carrot julienne and serve.