Tasty Treats

I dined on a tasty homegrown treat yesterday, something from the Brassica family. Can you identify the vegetable in the below photo? I’ll give you a hint – it’s not broccoli raab, or gai lan (aka Chinese broccoli), and it’s definitely not choy sum. But I guess you could say it is a cousin of all three of them.

mystery treat (click on any image to enlarge)

Got it figured out yet? It’s the young flowering shoots of the kale I let go to seed. I’ve got more than enough seed forming from the Beedy’s Camden kale I let flower this spring, so I decided to harvest some of the remaining flowers coming out as side shoots.

flower shoot of kale

I gave them a quick blanch in boiling water, then served them up with a little salt and butter. The flavor sort of reminds me of a mild broccoli raab, not really bitter, but not really sweet like the leaves of this kale. It’s definitely a tasty treat. And this will probably be my last time to enjoy it this year. I’ll be pulling the plants as soon as the seed ripens.

Most all of the flowers of the Brassica family are edible. Some brassicas are grown specifically for their flowers, like broccoli and cauliflower. But many like pak choy, tatsoi and kale that are grown primarily for their leaves have flowers that are quite tasty and nutritious as well.

And speaking of tasty treats, it’s almost time for another late spring favorite around here: garlic scapes. My records tell me I harvested the first ones in 2011 on May 30th, but with everything running 2-3 weeks earlier this year, I expect to see some scapes forming any day now. And what do we do with garlic scapes? For one thing, I make Garlic Scape Pesto. And I make Garlic Scape Dressing, with a great recipe shared by fellow blogger Daphne.

hardneck garlic scape

We’ll soon be saying goodbye to another springtime treat. This will be the last week of the 2012 asparagus harvest. It’s been a great year, with the beds giving us over 27 pounds so far. We’ve got some in the freezer to make soup with later, in case we start craving some asparagus. Still, it will be a long time before the 2013 harvest season rolls around.

May asparagus harvest

But even as asparagus is exiting, the cherries are starting to ripen. And it looks like blueberries won’t be far behind. Hopefully we can keep the birds away from both of these treats.

bowl of cherries

So that’s a peek at what garden treats we are harvesting and eating here. I hope you are enjoying whatever seasonal goodies you can find in your neck of the woods!

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14 Responses to Tasty Treats

  1. Daphne says:

    I hadn’t even thought that the scapes would be early. I’ll have to check on the regularly. Our usually start the first week of June sometime. So maybe mid May will be our harvest this year.

  2. Liz says:

    I’m growing hardneck garlic for the first time this year and I have to say I’m really looking forward to making your pesto – it sounds delicious.

  3. Robin says:

    I’m going to have to keep an eye on my garlic for scapes. Boy, it seems like you are so far ahead of us and we are supposed to be in the same zone.

  4. kitsapFG says:

    I was just looking at the garlic yesterday and guessing that the scapes would be arriving a few weeks earlier this year. Looking forward to enjoying their yummy goodness.

    I am so jealous of the cherries and soon to be blueberries! The closest thing we have to berries at this point is the strawberry plants which are flowering profusely. No fruit yet.

  5. bonnie says:

    Those cherries look so delicious!

  6. hehe, I knew right away that was kale, before even getting to the second paragraph 🙂

    I harvested a *ton* (or so it seemed) of garlic scapes two days ago. More than I knew what to do with, so I kept what we needed and hubby took the rest to work to share with his co-workers. They were thrilled (some were more intrigued, having never heard of garlic scapes before). But it was all spoken for quickly…

    27 pounds of asparagus is amazing. How large is your bed and how old are the crowns?

    The cherries look delicious!

    • Dave says:

      We have 3 25 foot rows of asparagus. Two rows were planted in 2007, the other row in 2008.

      And, it looks like we will have garlic scapes ready in a day or two!

      • Thanks for the info! We have about half that much row space in asparagus so that gives me an idea of what seems likely for production once our plants are as mature as yours.

  7. Norma Chang says:

    I too harvest a bit (just a tiny bit) of kale and collard flower shoots, they were tender and delicious.
    27 pounds of asparagus, what a gorgeous treat!!!!! You are so far ahead of us. I don’t see any garlic scape yet but keep looking. I didn’t know cherries ripen this early?

  8. LynnS says:

    Glad to see that you have discovered the edible shoots of flowering Kale. They’re also delicious sauteed or in a stir fry!

    Asparagus is here and so are strawberries. We’re in the same zone but you’re ahead of us, it seems. We’re not even close to garlic scapes yet. Don’t forget to try some garlic scape jelly — a great flavor with soft-cheese spread on crackers.

    Happy gardening!

  9. Can I eat at your house? I planted more kale this year. It is just beginning to sprout. I hope to have scapes soon – the garlic is really tall already! I may have to try that garlic scape dressing – yum. Asparagus bed for me next year! Wow, those cherries are too pretty to eat, almost. Did you hear that? (My stomach rumbling.)

  10. Peggy says:

    What kind of cherries are those? How long did they take to start bearing? I’m very impressed by your harvest!

    • Dave says:

      Peggy, some of the cherries are North Star and Montmorency. Others are from an unknown variety that was planted when we got here. The North Star started bearing a couple of years after planting.

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