Nothing sparks joy like abundance—particularly of food—and it’s now piled high at our farmers’ markets, making it easy to eat seasonal and local. That does your body a big favor. Better yet, because it’s summertime, the living is easy. With farm-fresh food, you don’t have to do much to create happy, healthy, colorful, tasty and even portable dishes. Here are a two fuss-free suggestions to make the most of the season.
Baby Peppers Stuffed with Chard and Mozzarella
Red, yellow and orange baby peppers, about 2 inches long, should be showing up at farmers’ markets now. Otherwise they are available packaged at supermarkets. Roasting them, then stuffing them with an equally colorful cheesy chard makes bright, finger-licking finger food for picnics, boat trips, cocktails and porch parties because they can be served at room temperature. Good for vegetarians and the gluten-free.
Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large bunch chard, trimmed, stalks and leaves finely chopped
Salt and black pepper to your taste
2 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed and minced
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (underdo it, meaning don’t heap the spoon)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon pine nuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons pecorino Romano or parmesan cheese, finely grated
⅓ cup shredded or grated mozzarella
2 pounds mixed baby peppers (about 20 baby peppers)
Heat oven to 400°F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, then cook the chard with salt and a generous grind of black pepper about 10–12 minutes, stirring often, until the stalks are soft and starting to brown. Add garlic, smoked paprika and oregano. Cook 1 more minute, then remove from the heat. Cool, then stir in the pine nuts and cheeses.
While waiting for the chard to cool, cut a little V from the stalk of each pepper down almost to the base so you can scoop out and discard the seeds. Stuff each pepper with the chard mix, packing it in as you go and bringing it to the top.
Lay the stuffed peppers on the lined baking pan. Roast 10 minutes, then with tongs roll them over and roast another 10 minutes, or until the peppers are soft and caramelized. Cool at least 10 minutes and serve warm, or later at room temperature.
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Hakurei Turnips with Their Greens
These crunchy little white orbs have several names—Hakurei turnips, Tokyo turnips, salad turnips—and just as many uses. As the “salad” name suggests, you can eat them raw, which makes them handy. Put them in a colorful crisp salad of carrots, radishes, celeriac or celery, scallions, shredded purple cabbage and garlic croutons with a buttermilk or ranch dressing for something different. Cooking them caramelizes their sugars so they are uniquely heavenly, especially with Asian seasonings. Throwing in the greens adds color, nutrition and a hint of tang. You can make a full vegan meal out of this by pouring the pot contents over soba noodles and adding an extra dash of roasted sesame oil.
6–7 medium-large Hakurei turnips with their greens
3 teaspoons roasted sesame oil
2–3 teaspoons corn or other vegetable oil (not olive), enough to fully cover the pot
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
Cut each turnip from the stems of the greens. Cut off the root and wash the orb. Dry.
Slice crosswise (parallel to the top) into the thinnest disks you can make.
Rinse and carefully dry the greens. Chop them sideways, then up and down, to get about 2-inch pieces. If you don’t want to use the stems too, cut them off first.
Put the roasted sesame oil in a medium-size heavy skillet and add enough of the other oil to fully cover the bottom of the pot. You need a firm coating of oil to make this work.
Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the sliced turnips, spreading them out to coat in the hot oil, and sauté, moving them around with a spatula so they cook evenly. Add more oil if necessary to keep them from sticking. As they start to color, which should be in 2–3 minutes, flip them.
As soon as you see the edges beginning to crisp, add the sesame seeds and pile the greens on top. Pour the tamari or soy sauce over the greens. Wait about 1 minute, then stir the greens into the turnips. Cook until the greens are evenly wilted and shiny, maybe 2 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into a serving dish and eat while warm.