real food right now
Real Food Right Now and How to Cook it (#realfoodrightnow) is our weekly series on the ABCs and 123s of seasonal food.
Whether you're an enthusiastic beginner or homemade candy pro, beware: we're betting once your loved ones or colleagues get a taste of these gorgeous, delectable treats - awesome gifts, all - you may be fielding requests for years to come. Happy Holidays!
Shallots are delicious roasted, sautéed, fried and braised, but where they really shine is as an integral component of sauces, vinaigrettes and other dishes (even desserts!), that can benefit from their allium punch. Although they can be pricy, shallots add a little je ne sais quoi to so many dishes.
What food heralds the holidays more than the cranberry, in all its rubine glory? But you should eat this all-American treat year round! Cranberries are exceptionally nutritious, and you can whip up a sauce in not much more time than it takes to open a can.
With over 4,000 varieties, the potato is a staple in cuisines around the world. It was also among the first vegetables to be intensively monocropped and served as a model for other crops. The common tuber is more exotic than you think!
Broccoli is a virtuous superfood, packed with disease-fighting antioxidants; on the other hand, it's the culinary equivalent of icky, especially when boiled to death. Given its nutritional prowess, broccoli deserves better than a pity party. If its cousin kale can get a sexy makeover, why not the tiny trees of the produce aisle? Let the reinvention begin!
Carrots are equally at home in sweet and savory dishes; they can be eaten raw, steamed, roasted, fried and stir-fried, made into puddings, cakes and sweet treats and grated, puréed and grantinéed. So of course they are ubiquitous in so many cuisines: what's better than a sweet, crunchy and colorful food?
Nothing says autumn like pumpkins, but if your experience is limited to Jack-O-Lanterns and lattes, you're missing out on a whole world of squashy goodness. Read all about it!
The national fruit of Japan, the autumnal hued persimmon still elicits head scratches on our side of the world. (It looks like a tomato! How do I eat it?) Add in a sometimes astringent, even bitter flavor and you've got a recipe for confusion. Are we missing out on a tasty treat? In a word, yes.
Although its nutty, delicious seeds can be found year-round in health food and some larger grocery stores, amaranth is only in season in the summer through mid-fall. The Today Show has called amaranth greens the next kale, and there are numerous recipes pairing the striking plant's seeds with more common ingredients.
In the US, quince trees were once common in colonial home gardens and on farms. These days, you may have to hunt around for quince - they are not a common fruit, after all - but certainly the hunt is worth it simply for their fragrance. Oh, and they taste pretty good too!
For a vegetable that has flourished for millennia in the Mediterranean, it's a funny thing to say that spinach has grown up. But here in Popeye land, our relatively newfound respect for spinach reflects a certain culinary maturity. Plain ole boiled spinach is bland, but when just harvested, can be sweet, and its blank-slate flavor profile is a terrific opportunity to pair it up with zestier playmates.
This week's Real Food is also known as "fever grass," and in addition to its assertive, lemony flavor, it is used to synthesize Vitamin A and is a world-class insect repellant! Lemongrass, demystified.
For a diminutive fruit, the apple is a force to be reckoned with, and we humans have been fascinated with it for millennia. Throughout history it has inspired Biblical myth, scientific theories and practical advice, and there are thousands of ways to prepare them.
Originally used medicinally to treat symptoms ranging from insomnia to venereal disease, sage has since made its way - over hundreds of years - into a range of savory dishes. And scientific studies support the old-timey idea that sage is linked to wisdom (or at least, memory and cognitive function).
Edamame are crazy versatile - cook them up and eat them as-is, with a little salt, or toss them into just about any savory dish. Sub them for any recipe that calls for lima beans; the nutty, sweet flavor of edamame is far more complex (and they are far more nutritious) and delicious.
The scent of a ripe melon, splayed open by a sharp knife, takes me back to summers at the Jersey shore, where we escaped the routines of life and embraced the salt air.