Even if you refused to eat them as a kid, even if your mother was too enlightened to try to strong-arm you into eating them, even if the supermarkets only rarely sell them, these food crops are worth including in a spring order:
1. Escarole. When I lived in Brooklyn 20 years ago, this was served in all the Italian restaurants, usually sauteed with garlic, pine nuts, and raisins. But homegrown is so much better than store-bought. I've tried lots of varieties, from ones whose head is the shape of a bath-mat to other ones with leaves so vertical and thin, they look like an upside-down mop. All wonderful.
2. Turnips. You have to be a little perverse to love the bitter flavor of these, and I am. I like varieties that are meant to be pulled at golf-ball size. In my short growing season, they are much more successful planted in mid-summer than in spring. Try Madhur Jaffrey's "Mughlai Lamb With Turnips" recipe.
3. Parsnips. They store beautifully all winter, and even sweeten up in the root cellar. Creamy-tasting, sugary and earthy at the same time, delicious, delicious, delicious.
4. Potatoes. If you think these are not worth the space, well, it's widely agreed that they are the most efficient of all crops, yielding the most calories per square foot, which is why the poor 19th century Irish planted them to the exclusion of everything else. Fresh-dug potatoes are so light and tasty, if you've never eaten one, you've never eaten a potato.
5. Currants. Absolutely beautiful bush, with leaves like tiny hands. Absolutely beautiful fruit, particularly the red, pink, and white varieties, which hang in clusters off the plant like beaded jewelry. Absolutely delicious tart taste. I have eight big bushes in the garden, and still, severe competition from the kids and the birds on these.
6. Parsley. As common as dirt. But curly parsley, homegrown, has an amazingly bright flavor.Posted by Evelyn Hadden on February 5, 2010 at 4:26 am, in the category Eat This.