Vegetables - Baby - Tender and Difficult to source
Sid Wainer & Son
Mature Vegetables are wonderful, but when harvested before maturity, many vegetables are more tender and lend themselves to more interesting recipes.
Jumbo White European Asparagus. Crisp spears with a much lighter taste than the green stalks. The taste is a great enhancement to fish and poultry and a beautiful way to round out the plate with a unique vegetable.
Baby Artichokes.A stock item that is available virtually all year, from the USA but in their prime during spring. Approximately 8-9 baby artichokes per pound, they are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, and are almost entirely edible. Approximately 1.5” to 1.75” inches across and 2.5” to 3” inches tall, these small members of the thistle family make a terrific starter, side dish, or late night snack. Prepare as you would larger artichokes, only cook them for a shorter period of time. If enough of the outer leaves are first pulled off, the entire specimen may be eaten. There are many preparations that used the entire artichoke either whole or cut - use as you might use canned artichoke hearts. Use these in the same applications as you would their larger counterparts; try them braised in olive oil and herbs served as part of an antipasto.
Baby Corn. Averaging 13-15 baby stalks per pound, with an average length of 6” to 7” each, the inner cob is generally about half the length of the stalk. Neat, petite, tender, and sweet: stalks are easily opened revealing the young cob within. Enjoy raw, marinated (don’t overdo it like the jarred stuff, okay?), or simply slit open, slather with butter or olive oil, grill until warm and serve with other baby vegetables. When serving baby corn or other baby vegetables; it’s not very hard to look like a culinary genius.
Baby Fennel. Baby Fennel is small, immature fennel. Roast or grill the bulbs, and serve whole or halved for an interesting plate presentation. The long feathery stalks may be used to season poultry, sauces and marinades with their anise/licorise flavor.
Baby Leeks. They look very much like green top onions, however, baby leeks have flatter, tougher stalks and a somewhat milder bulb than green onions. They are delicious steamed and seasoned, sautéed, baked, grilled and broiled. Delicious with potatoes and cream.
Squash Blossoms. Revered by Native Americans for centuries, squash blossoms are not only beautiful, they are versatile in culinary uses, too. Stuffed with cheese, chilies, grains, pate, dried fruits or whatever you can imagine, then baked or deep-fried to perfection are some ideas. Their exotic flavor is also delicious when floated upon hot soups and stews, folded into southwestern style omelets, spinach enchiladas and so much more. Find fried squash blossom recipe here.
Baby Zucchini. Often known as baby courgette. The most popular variety of green baby squash, it is entirely tender and edible. Baby squash is best not “overdone” and note that it does cook rapidly. Averaging between 30-35 pieces per pound, cook as you would conventional soft squash, but for much shorter periods of time. Even though baby squash is more expensive than other varieties: they are well worth the price. Consistently admired by chefs and general consumers, alike: use them and capitalize upon their inherent appeal. Use just a couple of pieces along with some baby beets, turnips or carrots, or combine with sautéed spinach, slices of purple potato, or other “less expensive” vegetables to reduce portion costs.
Baby Candy-striped Beets. Candy-striped Beets have a red and white bull's eye swirled appearance when peeled or cut open. They have a somewhat mild beet flavor. Also called Chioggia Beets, they are a delicious side dish - combine with baby gold or red beets, or baby turnips for a lovely assortment. Steam or roast for best flavor.
Baby Round (Indian) Eggplant. Though not completely round, Indian Eggplant is often called Baby Round. Longer and thinner than most eggplants, they have a tender, delicate flesh and shiny dark purple skin. Easy to cook on the grill, cut them lengthwise, salt each to lose fluid, brush with olive oil and turn them over during their five to six minute cooking time.
Baby Bunched White Turnips. Turnips, a member of the mustard family, actually have a wonderful peppery bite that mellows when cooked. Right now, you'll find smooth and glossy, white baby turnips that are quite sweet. If you need to kick-start your love for turnips, these are the ones you want to get your hands on — now! Toss baby turnips with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and any other seasonings that you wish, then roast or grill them until just tender. Enjoy them after roasting or grilling as is, or toss them with a mustard and summer herb vinaigrette. Steam baby turnips in wedges (until just tender) along with their greens, and drizzle them with brown butter or a good olive oil to finish. Layer thin slices of turnips, their greens, and potatoes, then bake them into a creamy gratin.