The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

April 11, 2012

Getting the Green

Karen Freeman

TARBORO — We started planting our garden, as I’m sure many of you have. Of course, we have probably planted it too early. But, we have that problem every year. When it warms up just a little, we get anxious for “real” spring, so we plant. Sometimes multiple times.

So, then I start looking for recipes for some of the things that we grow. We give away a lot of the produce but we also keep a lot of it. That means that I look for a lot of veggies.

Our first recipe is one of my absolute favorites. I love asparagus. It doesn’t matter how it’s cooked, I love it. I also save the snapped ends and use them as filler in soups. This recipe uses a balsamic syrup. It’s good but a little strong. You can leave it out if you wish.

Recipe number two is a little harder to find in Tarboro. It’s baby bok choy. It’s delicious but not always easy to find.

The third recipe is for Brussels Sprouts. We are growing them for the first time this year. That means that I had to find recipes. I think you will like the ones I found.

The last recipe is also Brussels Sprouts. These take a bit more work, but not much. You can just cut them in half or you can cut them up more than once to use.

Grilled Asparagus

1 lemon, zested and juiced

Kosher salt

2 pounds asparagus

2 tablespoons olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

In a small pan, over medium heat, add the vinegar, zest and juice of the lemon and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and let the mixture reduce until it becomes syrupy, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm a grill pan over medium-high heat. Wash and trim the ends of the asparagus. Toss the asparagus lightly with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill asparagus 5 minutes, then flip and grill until slightly blackened on both sides, about 4 minutes more.

Transfer the asparagus to a serving platter, drizzle with balsamic syrup and serve.

Baby Bok Choy with Cashews

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup chopped green onions, including green ends

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 pound baby bok choy, rinsed, larger leaves separated from base, base trimmed but still present, holding the smaller leaves together

1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil


1/2 cup chopped, roasted, salted cashews

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add onions, then garlic, then bok choy. Sprinkle with sesame oil and salt. Cover, and let the baby bok choy cook down for approximately 3 minutes. (Like spinach, when cooked, the bok choy will wilt a bit.)

Remove cover. Lower heat to low. Stir and let cook for a minute or two longer, until the bok choy is just cooked.

Gently mix in cashews. Serves 4.

Brussels Sprouts

1 lb fresh brussels sprouts

4-6 Tbsp butter

1/2 onion, chopped

Salt and Pepper

1 teaspoon lemon juice or 1 Tbsp Meyer lemon juice, fresh squeezed

1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

Remove any ragged or old-looking outer leaves on the brussels sprouts and discard. Parboil the Brussels sprouts (or steam them) for 3 minutes or until just tender. They should be almost cooked all the way through (split one in half to test). Strain the hot water and place the sprouts in a bowl of ice water, this will keep their color bright green. Cut the sprouts into halves.

Heat 2-3 Tbsp of butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add 2-3 Tbsp more of butter and the brussels sprouts halves. Increase the heat to medium high and cook for several more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste, while the brussels sprouts are cooking. Do not overcook! Overcooked brussels sprouts are bitter and are the main reason why some people don't like them.

Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and half of the toasted almonds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place in serving dish and garnish with the rest of the toasted almonds.

Serves 6-8.

Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus

1 Tbsp grated lemon zest

1 lbs Brussels Sprouts

1 Tbsp olive oil

4 teaspoons butter

1 garlic clove, minced

1 Tbsp black mustard seeds or poppy seeds

2 Tbsp vermouth or dry white wine

Salt and pepper to taste.

Place lemon juice in a large bowl. Cut bottoms off sprouts, and discard. Halve sprouts lengthwise. If you are really ambitions, carefully cut out and discard the firm core of each sprout half. Thinly slice the sprouts. As you work, transfer slices into bowl with lemon juice. When all sprouts are sliced toss them in juice and separate leaves. (Recipe can be made to this point and refrigerated, covered, for up to 3 hours.)

When ready to serve, heat oil and butter over high heat in a skillet large enough to hold all sprouts. When very hot (almost to smoking point) add sprouts, garlic and seeds, and cook, stirring often, until sprouts are wilted and lightly cooked, but still green and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Some leaves might brown slightly.

Add vermouth, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Turn off heat, add salt and pepper to taste and stir in the lemon zest, reserving a little for top of dish. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with remaining zest and serve.

Serves 4.

Did You Know?

Vitamin Chart

Vitamin A

Vitamin A prevents eye problems, promotes a healthy immune system, is essential for the growth and development of cells, and keeps skin healthy.

Good sources of vitamin A are milk, eggs, liver, fortified cereals, darkly colored orange or green vegetables (such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and kale), and orange fruits such as cantaloupe, apricots, peaches, papayas, and mangos.

Teen guys need 900 micrograms of vitamin A each day.
Teen girls need 700 micrograms each day. It is possible to get too much vitamin A, so be careful with supplements. Don't take vitamin A supplements If you're taking isotretinoin (such as Accutane) for acne or other skin problems.
Oral acne medicines are vitamin A supplements, and a continued excess of vitamin A can build up in the body, causing headaches, skin changes, or even liver damage.

Vitamin C (also called ascorbic acid)

Vitamin C is needed to form collagen, a tissue that helps to hold cells together. It's essential for healthy bones, teeth, gums, and blood vessels. It helps the body absorb iron and calcium, aids in wound healing, and contributes to brain function.

You'll find high levels of vitamin C in red berries, kiwi, red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, and juices made from guava, grapefruit, and orange.

Teen guys need 75 mg (milligrams; 1 milligram equals 1,000 micrograms) and girls need 65 mg of vitamin C a day.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D strengthens bones because it helps the body absorb bone-building calcium.

This vitamin is unique — your body manufactures it when you get sunlight on your skin! You can also get vitamin D from egg yolks, fish oils, and fortified foods like milk.

Teens need 15 micrograms (600 IU) of vitamin D from food or supplements every day. Ask your doctor if supplements are right for you.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant and helps protect cells from damage. It is also important for the health of red blood cells.

Vitamin E is found in many foods, such as vegetable oils, nuts, and green leafy vegetables. Avocados, wheat germ, and whole grains are also good sources.

Teen guys and girls need 15 mg of vitamin E every day.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 helps to make red blood cells, and is important for nerve cell function.

Vitamin B12 is found naturally in fish, red meat, poultry, milk, cheese, and eggs. It's also added to some breakfast cereals.

Teens should get 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is important for normal brain and nerve function. It also helps the body break down proteins and make red blood cells.

A wide variety of foods contain vitamin B6, including potatoes, bananas, beans, seeds, nuts, red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, spinach, and fortified cereals.

Teen guys need 1.3 mg of vitamin B6 daily and teen girls need 1.2 mg.

Thiamin (also called vitamin B1)

Thiamin helps the body convert carbohydrates into energy and is necessary for the heart, muscles, and nervous system to function properly.

People get thiamin from many different foods, including fortified breads, cereals, and pasta; meat and fish; dried beans, soy foods, and peas; and whole grains like wheat germ.

Teen guys need 1.2 mg of thiamin each day; teen girls need 1 mg.

Niacin (also called vitamin B3)

Niacin helps the body turn food into energy. It helps maintain healthy skin and is important for nerve function.

You'll find niacin in red meat, poultry, fish, fortified hot and cold cereals, and peanuts.

Teen guys need 16 mg of niacin daily. Teen girls need 14 mg a day.

Riboflavin (also called vitamin B2)

Riboflavin is essential for turning carbohydrates into energy and producing red blood cells. It is also important for vision.

Some of the best sources of riboflavin are meat, eggs, legumes (like peas and lentils), nuts, dairy products, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, asparagus, and fortified cereals.

Teen guys need 1.3 mg of riboflavin per day and teen girls need 1 mg.

Folate (also known as vitamin B9, folic acid, or folacin)

Folate helps the body make red blood cells. It is also needed to make DNA.

Liver, dried beans and other legumes, green leafy vegetables, asparagus, and orange juice are good sources of this vitamin. So are fortified bread, rice, and cereals.

Teen girls and guys need 400 micrograms of folate daily.