Robert Scheuller is Melissa’s amazing head of public relations and if there’s anything he doesn’t know about produce, you’d be hard pressed to tell. He started us off with a table full of different varieties of kale; Tuscan kale (also known as black kale), kale sprouts, flowering kale and kale sprouts. Chef Tom Fraker prepared kale chips using three different varieties and it was easy to spot the subtle differences. Simple to prepare, you just run a knife down the stem, toss them in a bit of olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper and bake at 425 for five or six minutes and you’re done. We also tasted the kale raw and it was quite tasty. Flowering and Tuscan kale are the most tender and are the common most in salads. Kale sprouts is the newest variety.
Moving on to leeks, they’re a staple in European cooking, but not used as widely here. Most folks simply don’t know how to tackle them. The dark green part is inedible, so get rid of it. Cut off the root, chop the leek and then wash it thoroughly to get rid of any dirt or silt. Belgian style leeks have double the amount of edible parts and will eventually become the standard in the U.S. The best ideas said Robert always come from chefs.
Parsnips are also known as white carrots and the baby parsnips are sweeter and more tender than carrots. Try roasting them.
“Rhubarb is spring!” pronounced Robert. Rhubarb is a vegetable whose leaves are toxic. That’s why they’re cut off when you see them in the produce section. They need a lot of sugar to offset the intrinsic bitterness. Strawberries usually come to mind when you think of rhubarb, but they’re also quite good with blueberries, blackberries and tangerines in a pie or cobbler. If you want to try something easy, just chop it up, throw it in a hot pan and watch it melt. Just add sugar and you’ve got a rhubarb spread you can put on ice cream or toast.
Check out Melissa’s website for all sorts of tasty recipes and tips.
Tom Plant launched WINEormous in 2009 and is a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Based in Temecula, California, he offers intimate winery tours for no more than seven people. Tour details and pricing are available at www.temecula-tours.com. Call now to book your Temecula Winery Tour at (951) 907-9701! Ask about special discounts.