Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Unusual Veggies and a Recipe #39

Either food tastes better right from my own garden, or my taste buds have changed this year.

White Radish
I never have liked radishes. We had them only on special occasions when I grew up in Phoenix. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners always included a relish tray and those little, ugly tasting red radishes were between the celery and the pickles. Their red color faded and they looked dry by the end of the day. I often wondered if anyone really liked radishes. Lance planted them, and I yawned. Whatever. But when they came up red, purple, pink and white, I had to taste them. Hot, spicy and crisp - have to have them in every salad I make now.

Aztec Spinach
I'd never heard of Red Aztec Spinach. The plant is pretty and will be bright red when fall comes. The stems have to be avoided as they are tough and bitter. The leaves are small so it's a bit of a pain to clean them off. They taste 'green' and good, but there are other greens with larger leaves I'd just as soon bring to the table. The exciting thing about this plant is it could get nearly as tall as me. And once it starts to send up flowers, the unopened buds can be cooked like broccoli. It's an all season veggie.

Sweet Basil
Basil is an herb I've always used in a number of dishes. But now...it smells heavenly and so very, very - well, basily when fresh from my garden. We have both purple and green. AND I've discovered another way to eat it (thank you, Lance). Take a bite of steak hot from the grill with a bite of fresh basil. You have to try this!

Red Chard
I'd never even tried chard. Okay, I admit, I'd never heard of it. Maybe I've seen it at the store, and I didn't pay attention. What a great addition to a salad. I'm particularly fond of the red and the yellow. I have no idea if they taste any better than the white, but the color alone is worth having it in a salad.

Here's the basic rice recipe for Aztec Spinach. I've added chicken to it as well as made other changes. I'm not one to stick to a recipe. I don't even like to cook!

Red Aztec Spinach and Rice
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp red chili (like powder or flakes or whatever is hot)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp cumin
4 cups Red Aztec Spinach
3 cups water
1 tomato, chopped
1 cup rice

So remember, clean the spinach and use only the leaves. Saute onion, garlic, chili and oil in large pan until onion is translucent. Add tumeric and cumin and saute for a minute or two and then add spinach, water and tomato. Cook until the water turns bright red. Then stir in the rice. Salt and pepper to taste. Turn down the heat and cook until rice is tender. Serve with a dollop of greek yogurt. I didn't have any greek yogurt the first time I made it so you can make what I made (thanks to Christie). Equal parts of mayonnaise and sour cream with dill.

Happy eating!


  1. Hey, Brenda. Love the info on the veggies. I recently heard about using radishes in place of potatoes for potato salad. I've never been a fan of radishes because I don't like the heat. But when you boil them, it changes that (they say). So, if you get swamped by radishes, try cooking them or sauteing them or something. I know, everything is better sauteed in some good oil. :)

    1. Never thought of cooking radishes like that. We have used them in stir fry and they add a bite. I bet boiling gets rid of the bite. I'll have to test that out. Thanks. And yes, unfortunately, sauteed in oil (olive oil) is always good.

  2. Okay, my tastes have changed as I've gotten older, but I will not try a radish or cooked spinach again. I have and don't care for it. Love raw spinach though in a salad. I love the smell of herbs and the basil is wonderful. When I work in the herb garden, I actually smile because of the wonderful smell and tranquility in the garden.

    1. You're so right about smiling in the garden, Jody!