Sunday, May 18, 2008

Farmer's Market: Bok Choy!

It's time for another edition of "Farmer's Market," where I share with you a new vegetable discovery and how I added it into my diet. Yesterday and last weekend, there were slim pickins at the Market. It's still early in the season. There was lots of asparagus and green onions, and some lettuce and greens. Not much else. But at one farmer's table I saw something I did not recognize. It was a little green bundle that looked like stalks with big round leaves on top. Very strange indeed. I asked him what it was. "This is baby bok choy," he said. "It's very good for you! People use them in stir fries. It's related to cabbage." Hmmm. Okay, I am game for anything. So I brought home 3 little bundles for $2.

When I got home, I looked it up online and searched for recipes that sounded good. (I am not a big fan of stir fries, myself). When I found this gem, I knew I had just hit gold. Oh boy. It's beautiful! And right up my alley. I love to make a veggie into a main dish, and I LOVE cashews. I adjusted the recipe a bit and the end result was really yummy!

Here is my baby bok choy when I got it home and washed up:

And here is the recipe:

Baby Bok Choy with Cashews

1 tsp olive oil, heated in a nonstick pan on medium high heat
1/2 c chopped green onions (white and green parts)
2 minced cloves of garlic
1 pound baby bok choy
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 c salted roasted cashews (I left them whole)

First prep the bok choy. Take off most of the outer, big leaves and wash them. Leave the smallest leaves attached together in the center. Trim the bottom a little. Wash it well. (If you cook it this way, it looks the prettiest, but I think next time I will chop it all into 1" pieces to make it easier to eat).
Put the green onions in the oil and saute briefly. Add the damp bok choy, garlic, sesame oil and salt. Stir and cover. Let it cook for about 4 minutes. Remove cover and keep cooking for another minute or two. Stab the thickest part of the bok choy with a fork to see if it is tender enough yet. Slightly crispy is fine. You don't want mush. Mix in the cashews and warm for 30 seconds. Done!

I ate the whole pan of bok choy myself for a meal. Not a lot of calories, but very satisfying! I think you can use regular (big) bok choy in any baby bok choy recipe, if you cut it up and cook it a little longer. Here's how mine looked: (not quite as pretty as the picture in the link, but it was still good!)

Today, I made another recipe:

Baby Bok Choy with Bacon (try saying that 3 times fast!)

1 pound baby bok choy, washed and chopped in 1" pieces
1/4 of a small red onion, chopped
2 slices of bacon, cooked crispy and drained, and crumbled
1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 small clove of garlic, minced

Cook the onion in a nonstick pan sprayed with cooking spray until nearly tender. Add damp bok choy, pepper flakes, garlic and a bit of salt. Cover and cook for about 4 minutes. Remove lid and stir. Cook until bok choy is tender, 1-2 more minutes. Stir in crumbled bacon and salt to taste. This was so delicious. Even a bit sweet. It only has about 120 calories, depending on your bacon. Personally, I will leave out the red pepper flakes next time I make it, as I am not a fan of spicy hot foods.

The farmer's wife also told me to try grilling the bok choy. She said to just take the larger leaves with their stalks and lay them on the grill and flip them once, until tender. I tried this as well. It was okay, just not great.

I also found out that the bok choy I got is a special variety called "Shanghai Bok Choy." It is different because it has pale green stalks and smooth round leaves, while regular bok choy has white stalks and dark green leaves. The Shanghai variety is also supposed to be sweeter.

Now go ahead...try new things. Enjoy your veggies!


Leanna said...

I love baby bok choy! I can't wait until our farmer's market is up and running.

Have you had kale yet?

Melanie said...

I had no idea you could eat the leaves! I've only had it in stir fry and I love this veggie. I can't wait to try your recipes. Thanks for sharing!

Deb said...

Hi, I just found your blog from one of your posts on 3FC's. I had been thinking of starting a blog of my own and yours inspired me to get started. I particularly enjoy your reports from the farmer's market. So much so that I have plans to visit my own local market this weekend! :)

RunningNan said...

Those look great! We had slim pickins as well. This weekend we are going down to the west side market!

Kathy said...

The bok choy and cashews recipe looks fabulous...thanks!

LC said...

Who knew that baby bok choy could lead me to de-lurk!? I love your blog!

We LOVE baby bok choy! It's mild enough to chop and put in salads, it's really great raw!

I also love rainbow kale, sauted in olive oil and then thrown into lentil or black bean soup!

Enjoy the produce of spring!!

(and thanks for your wonderful sharing blog!)

Anonymous said...

Ah ha! Great minds think alike ;-) We are trying Bok Choy this week in a healthy eating (try a new veggie) challenge! Perfect timing! These recipes look delish-YUM! I linked to your blog--thanks for sharing!!!!

Keep up the good work!

beverly said...

I made the bok choy/cashew recipe last night. Was good, thanks for sharing the recipe.

Lynn Haraldson-Bering said...

I just found this! I've been looking for bok choy recipes. Thanks, Lyn!

Anonymous said...

I have been making this recipe for about a year now...several times a month...just seems like I can't get enough of it. Had a leftover chicken breast, and crumbled that into the mix...wahla!!! main dish instead of side dish.