The harvest is heavily upon us which means that produce stands and farmer’s markets are practically overflowing with brightly colored fall fruits and vegetables. Next to boxes of familiar produce though, it’s not uncommon to run into items that you may not recognize. Meet some of the less well-known produce that has become increasingly available across the Finger Lakes Region.
Swiss chard: This is admittedly my favorite vegetable. This dark, leafy green is known for being packed full of vitamins and iron. Rainbow chard is my favorite variety because of the visually appealing meals I can produce with it. Swiss chard can often be used as a substitute for spinach though is not quite as tender, or it can go the other way and replace kale but is not as tough. Wash thoroughly before using.
Edamame: Edamame are green soybeans and members of the legume family. Their name means “beans on a branch” in Japanese. Fresh soybeans are delicious snacks, my kids especially love them steamed in the pods because it is fun to pop them out to eat. Edamame contain iron, calcium, potassium, and protein.
Edible flowers: Very fun, edible flowers include varieties such as violets, marigolds, chamomile, and squash blossoms. My kids loved it when our CSA share had pansies as they have a slightly minty flavor. When you are purchasing, make sure to ask your vendor about where and how they were grown because flowers grown at nurseries, garden centers, or florists have probably had pesticides applied to them that are not approved for food crops. If you grow your own, educate yourself on which parts of the flower are edible because some have parts that are poisonous.
Heirloom tomato varieties: Tomatoes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Heirloom variety tomatoes are known for being soft skinned and very flavorful. These are best used within a few days of picking and do not ship well because they are so fragile. If you are looking for the perfect tomato to eat on a sandwich, you can’t find anything as delicious as an heirloom tomato. Tomatoes are good sources of vitamin C.
Ditch the regular, everyday salad and try something fresh and new from your favorite farmer’s market or produce stand. Your taste buds – and your local farmer – will thank you.