Friday, May 24, 2013

The Rules of Attraction

On a recent walk through the Union Square Green Market, I saw several items of produce that I suspected I would dislike. Despite my misgivings, I ended up giving them a try. Why? They were so pretty! My head was turned by their beauty. Was my mind changed as well? Let's take a look.

Head Turner #1: Kale Flowers

Spring has sprung!

Selling point: Beautiful, bountiful and just $3 for a huge bunch. And they must be extremely nutritious - we are, after all, talking about kale here.

Voice in my head says: "Edible flowers" usually taste like sodden tissues. (Slight exception: I do like nasturtium well enough in small doses.)

Verdict: A great purchase for a caterer! The kale flowers would look great on a spring salad at a ritzy event, and one of these big bunches could to a whole lot of salad duty (especially considering the portion size at most ritzy, edible flower type events). As for the taste, well, the flowering kale tasted a bit better than sodden tissues but not enough to inspire me to compose a prissy salad. 

Head Turner #2: Red Mustard

Mustard greens are like escarole and chicory. Okay enough, but why would I buy or eat them when I had better options, such as collard, kale or broccoli rabe?  So I've mostly ignored ignored them. These bunches, however, were real lookers.

I feel a rosy glow!

Selling points: I loved the color! They'd be easy to prepare - just saute with some diced onion. Besides, I needed a vegetable for dinner. 

Voice in my head says: Yeah, it's worth making - once.

I made an all red (purple) dish: I sauteed some finely diced red onion until they became translucent and added the mustard greens.

First some onions

I love my cast iron skillet

I stirred the greens and allowed them for a few minutes. I plated them and added a dash of (red/purple) balsamic vinegar.

I know I've seen these mats before

The red mustard greens lost their reddish color in the cooking, as often happens with red/purple vegetables, but overall the dish retained enough Purple Majesty to please even Prince.

Verdict: Quick and easy to make. The greens retained a bit of their bite.Still, I probably won't rush to make the dish again - I sincerely like a lot of leafy green vegetables more than I enjoyed this one. 

Head turner #3: Radishes

When I was growing up, paprika was a kind of tasteless red dust you used to add some color to beige food and radishes were a food garnish, typically in the form of a radish rose, that wouldn't cause harm if eaten. My husband's family, on the other hand, uses zesty Hungarian paprika as an essential spice, and considers radishes a necessary component of any salad. I no longer push radish slices uneaten around my plate, but I don't typically think of purchasing them either. But could I really say no to these beauties?


Selling points: Gorgeous. Inexpensive. If I didn't eat them, maybe I could use them as some kind of centerpiece.

Voice in my head says: Youtube probably has some how-to videos about garnishes if the actually-eating-them plan doesn't work out. 

I made a quick salad by thin-slicing the radishes with a mandoline, adding some salt and a handful of chopped dill and garlic chives that I had on hand. 

Verdict: Finally! A dish I thoroughly enjoyed and would make again. In fact, I already have. The radish salad would be a great addition to a sandwich, too.

Overarching conclusion: Well, beauty may lure me in, but it's not enough for a lasting relationship.  But as the song nearly says, One out of Three Ain't Bad. 

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