Put a Cape on Those Things

The hot veggies or foods. They’ve all had their time in the culinary spotlight for a season or two. How does this happen? Are there marketers for veggies? It that a job?

First there were pea tendrils. Appearing in vibrant soups and curling off of salads.Then, Miss Red Velvet sashayed onto the scene and totally stole it, followed by Salted Caramel. There’s a combo that has been riding quite a wave and everything that you could possibly add caramel with sea salt to has been made in some capacity. If someone could make a salted caramel shoe and pass it off as the “new dessert”, it would probably happen. There’s virtually nothing that salted caramel doesn’t taste good on, in or with. Brussel sprouts seems to have tried to gain favor…with the roasting and the chiffonade salads and the carmelizing, but it just hasn’t hit the way the Brussel sprout marketers probably would have hoped. Those little cabbagy heads are still a pretty hard sell for many (not me). Poor guys. Doomed to a life of being among the last picked in a veggie lineup. And then, of course, the top dog of the veggie world…kale. Mr. Kale is on the world’s lips and has been proclaimed one of the superfoods of all superfoods, up there with quinoa and sweet potatoes. Stand back.

How does this happen, that particular veggies (or prepared items, as in the case of the red velvet cupcake…which, I might add, does NOT translate well into “everything”. I saw a recipe for a red velvet brownie recently and I swear, it looked like squares of some grisly murder) get launched into the spotlight? It’s not like they are newly grown but how can they be so newly “discovered” when they have been around for ages (ie. quinoa)?

When I was small, my Italian grandmother grew swiss chard-the beautiful rainbow variety-in her garden and whenever we would visit, we’d leave with brown shopping bags filled with these towering greens. Eating so much of those great greens is probably what helped keep her alive and well far into her 80s without nary a healthy issue along the way. But there she was, growing and sauteing her greens and now these same stalks are everywhere and talked about as if they just blew into town. Same goes for kale. And arugula. These all graced our grandparents’ gardens fifty years ago.

And garlic scapes? Otherwise known as the curly first shoot appearing from the the head of growing garlic. I guess now people have just figured out that you can do something with that part besides throw it away, give it to your pet bunny or launch it onto your compost pile…so it must be named! Make pesto and let’s call it a…a…a SCAPE! Maybe because it E-SCAPED certain demise?

Poor lima, bush and flageolet beans, though. They wait and wait and wait for their time in the spotlight. The world is slower to embrace those hearty legumes. Sniff. Although they might have a fighting chance, as I’ve seen gigante beans hitting more and more menus as of late. That could be their shining star. Go, Gigante! Make those legumes proud! Woot!

As with the case of the newly crowned Miss USA (go, Connecticut! BOoooooo Utah!), which culinary item will be graced with a satin sash for the next growing season? I just have to add though,…how in the world did Miss Utah still come away with a third place win after that rambling, bumbling answer? You mean to tell me that the others were worse?? *shiver*

So, stay tuned! Food talent and swimsuit competitions are coming up!…..

Here’s a quick recipe for Baked Kale Chips. Capes or sashes not included.

(try them…they are weirdly addictive once you get over the “very veggie” flavor. You’ll see what I mean. It’s the papery texture that sells these babies)

Wash and dry your kale, removing the big stems. Toss with good olive oil, sea salt and a pepper to taste. Maybe a little garlic salt (in lieu of sea salt) if you are feeling wild and crazy and don’t intend to kiss anyone in the following hours after consumption. 

Place of baking sheet in 275 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, give a little toss to make sure all baked well and let sit for a few minutes. They will crisp and you will, probably in one sitting, eat the entire tray…and then feel good about it because you will have just taken in your allotment of antioxidants for the next three years.

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