veg­etable preparation


  • What are “Jimmy Nardello” sweet pep­pers and how are they used?


  • Once a har­bin­ger of spring, aspara­gus is now avail­able nearly year round with imported prod­uct from Peru and Mex­ico.

    Even so, when fields in Cal­i­for­nia begin to sprout up ten­der tips, by early April, it’s indica­tive of a sea­sonal shift in local eat­ing habits.

    An ele­gant veg­etable with long, ten­der shoots that are gen­er­ally cat­e­go­rized as white, pur­ple and green vari­eties, all belong­ing to a plant in the lily fam­ily.

    The shoots of the green and white vari­eties are usu­ally hand-​harvested when the stalks reach a height of around eight inches and are one quar­ter to half inch thick. The com­pact, tightly packed leaves (resem­bling scales) at the top of the stalk are prized for their soft, to crunchy tex­ture and mild, provoca­tive fla­vor.

    Green aspara­gus is tra­di­tion­ally the most com­mon vari­ety grown in the United States. Pur­ple or white aspara­gus is usu­ally avail­able on a lim­ited basis in spe­cialty and farm­ers markets.

  • David John dis­cusses avail­abil­ity, prepa­ra­tion, usage, fla­vor and his favorite way to eat Black Radishes.
  • Let’ s be hon­est. In the wide open uni­verse of fresh veg­eta­bles, there are many picks that beat out cau­li­flower in pop­u­lar­ity.

    In chef cir­cles, we hear of inno­v­a­tive ways to har­ness the full fla­vor of this under rep­re­sented power source.

    Roast­ing leads the way in the method cat­e­gory. An earthy, nutty fla­vor devel­ops by sim­ply oven roast­ing with noth­ing more than a sprin­kle of salt and a driz­zle of cook­ing oil.

    The real genius of hacks comes from allow­ing the cau­li­flower to play a sup­port­ing role. Try cast­ing this white, crunchy char­ac­ter in numer­ous dishes that embrace bolder per­son­al­ity traits.

    Korean bar­be­cue bowls, buf­falo cau­li­flower steaks, chimichurri cauli, bat­tered and fried and cau­li­flower alfredo liven up the dol­drums of this pedes­trian cruciferous.

  • Selec­tion tips, dif­fer­ences and fla­vor pro­files of var­i­ous eggplants.


  • David John dis­cusses sea­sonal items; mar­ket con­di­tion of figs; how to pre­pare fresh gar­banzo beans for a sum­mer treat.


  • Nearly any­thing stuffed will con­vince us that there is a cel­e­bra­tion in the mak­ing.

    That could mean an easy week­night din­ner party if the vehi­cle used for stuff­ing is a por­to­bello mush­room.

    In North­ern Italy, this over­sized mush­room is called “cap­pel­lone” which means “big hat”. It makes sense as the shape resem­bles a large cap or top­per (just right for stuff­ing).

    To be clear, once a cri­m­ini mush­room reaches between four to six inches in diam­e­ter, it is offi­cially called a por­to­bello or porta­bella. Yes, they are one in the same vari­ety, with a dif­fer­ent matu­rity level dic­tat­ing its name.

    A porta­bello is rec­og­nized by it’s open, flat sur­face (cap). Because it’s left to grow larger, the gills are fully exposed. This means that some of the mushroom’s mois­ture has evap­o­rated. The reduced mois­ture con­cen­trates and enriches the fla­vor and cre­ates a dense, meaty texture.
  • Zuc­chini and other sum­mer squash vari­eties seem to be every­where. What are we wait­ing for such a squash sur­plus at our fin­ger­tips?

    If pasta noo­dles are on the table at least once a week, this is the best sea­son to go for a light­ened up ver­sion with noo­dles cen­ter­plate.

    Alfredo, mari­nara and pesto clas­sics make for irre­sistible sauces on top of squash noo­dles.

    Grain free squash cut in either wide rib­bons or curly or flat thin noo­dles beckon to kitchen enthu­si­asts to explore all options. A sim­ple dressed up top­per of mint, basil, gar­lic and lemon juice keeps life sim­ple.

    Asian noo­dle bowls are a world apart from Italy. Pad Thai, lo mein, stir fries and broth­ier dishes meant to be slurped give way to robust flavors.

  • All about Maitake mush­rooms: what they are, fla­vor, how to use them and storage.


  • Food his­to­ri­ans credit Por­tugese cooks for the tasty spread we’ve come to know as mar­malade.

    Orig­i­nally made of quince (marmelo is the fruit’s Por­tugese name), the sweet/​tart gel like paste is used in desserts, breads and cakes.

    Quince are a rel­a­tively unusual fruit in that they are rarely, if ever, eaten raw. Mak­ing them into a jelly/​preserve/​compote allows them to be savored well past their sea­son.

    In Brazil, most marme­los are boiled, sweet­ened and then reduced to a thick jelly-​like paste called marme­lada.

    Quince are very tart and tan­nic, mak­ing them almost impos­si­ble to eat in their nat­ural state. Dur­ing cook­ing, their tan­nins mel­low and change color, giv­ing cooked quince a lovely pink-​to-​reddish hue.
  • As the eight days of Hanukkah fin­ish, we are gen­tly reminded of those lovely fried gems that are cus­tom­ar­ily eaten dur­ing the course of the Fes­ti­val of Lights.

    Tra­di­tion serves up golden brown latkes. One does not have to be Jew­ish to appre­ci­ate this espe­cially del­i­cate good bite. Nor do we need to con­fine our latke indul­gence to the few short days of the hol­i­day sea­son.

    Latkes (potato pan­cakes) are tra­di­tion­ally topped with apple­sauce or sour cream. There are many new cre­ative vari­a­tions to these cakes and top­pings.

    The crisp, golden clas­sic is made of shred­ded rus­set pota­toes and grated fresh onions. Yukon gold or sweet pota­toes put a softer spin on the clas­sic.

    Other root veg­eta­bles like car­rots, turnips and parsnips sur­prise the pal­let in a new cake direc­tion. Include zuc­chini, cau­li­flower, apples, green onions and fresh herbs to amp up flavors.
  • Pep­pery foods have been a part of the human diet for more than 8,000 years.

    Long before the ancient Greeks and Romans gave mon­e­tary value to pep­per­corns, South Amer­i­can Indi­ans were eat­ing fiery hot wild chili pep­pers.

    Chilies were eaten in Mex­ico, Brazil and Peru 6,000 years B.C. and were one of the first domes­ti­cated plants in the New World.

    The love affair with chili pep­pers con­tin­ues. Most of us asso­ciate chili pep­pers with vary­ing degrees of heat. Super­hot chili pep­pers go beyond habanero pep­per heat and sur­pass 350,000 Scov­ille Heat Units.

    Any num­ber of vari­eties of these super­hots have sur­passed two mil­lion Scov­ille Heat Units. Treat these pep­pers with the utmost respect when han­dling or cook­ing with them.
  • David John hosts this weekly pro­gram regard­ing every­thing you ever wanted to know about fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles: selec­tion, stor­age, prepa­ra­tion, vari­eties, sea­sonal avail­abil­ity, trivia, and his per­sonal secrets about how to enjoy produce.


  • Back to the basics: every­thing you need to know about Rus­set Potatoes.

  • It could very well be a savory pear tart. Or a car­rot souf­flé or even a Brus­sels sprouts Cae­sar salad with pecans that starts a hol­i­day dis­pute.

    A seem­ingly nice sur­prise and uncon­ven­tional approach to fruits and veg­eta­bles this time of year might sound per­fectly ratio­nal.

    Thanks­giv­ing is a time to gather with friends and fam­ily around a table that holds mostly tra­di­tional favorite dishes.

    The mere thought or sug­ges­tion of sneak­ing in a new take on a famil­iar salad, side, appe­tizer or dessert may be grounds for a fam­ily fuss.

    Chances are good that if the group assem­bled at your Thanks­giv­ing table has been there year-​after-​year, the expec­ta­tion is to serve exactly those same “tried and true” dishes that have been plated before.
  • The fleshy green spears of aspara­gus are all at once suc­cu­lent and ten­der. They have long been con­sid­ered a true sea­sonal del­i­cacy.

    This highly prized veg­etable arrives with the com­ing of spring. When the shoots finally break through the soil and reach their peak har­vest length, we are ready to enjoy locally grown aspara­gus.

    In Cal­i­for­nia, the first crops may be picked as early as Feb­ru­ary. The sea­son gen­er­ally is con­sid­ered to run from April through May. Like most things in agri­cul­ture, Mother Nature is in charge.

    In the Mid­west and East, the sea­son may extend through June or July.

    Under ideal grow­ing con­di­tions, an aspara­gus spear can shoot up to be eight to ten inches tall in a 24-​hour period. Each crown will send spears up for about six to seven weeks dur­ing the spring and early summer.
  • Smart cook­ers like Instant Pots are enjoy­ing a moment. This cel­e­brated multi-​cooker is touted as capa­ble of replac­ing seven dif­fer­ent appli­ances.

    It brags of doing the work of a slow cooker, an elec­tric pres­sure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté/​browning pan, and food-​warming pot.

    Cook­ing speed may be the sin­gle most advan­tage of going for the Instant Pot. This is par­tic­u­larly true if cook­ing some meats is high on the menu. Shav­ing time off of ribs, roasts and whole chicken mat­ters.

    Risotto and dried beans seem to cook in record time. Soups and stews from scratch develop depth of fla­vor with­out turn­ing on the stove or oven.

    Not every­one wants or needs sev­eral (or even one more) kitchen gad­get tak­ing up shelf space. Com­pe­ti­tion among food proces­sors, stand mix­ers, blenders, juicers and var­i­ous cof­fee mak­ers is fierce within most households.
  • If Brus­sels sprouts, broc­coli and cau­li­flower are not part of the nor­mal veg­gie lineup, it could be dif­fi­cult to intro­duce kohlrabi into the kitchen rota­tion.

    Kohlrabi is the cool kid on the veg­gie play­ground that requires a bit of explain­ing and some under­stand­ing.

    Part bulb, part bun­dle of greens, kohlrabi may have an intim­i­da­tion fac­tor unlike its cru­cif­er­ous coun­ter­parts.

    This fall favorite offers a delight­ful com­bi­na­tion of famil­iar and sat­is­fy­ing tastes. Kohlrabi has the tex­ture of a radish and the sweet­ness of jicama, with a slight hint of broc­coli.

    The edi­ble leaves are like a milder ver­sion of col­lard greens. They are quite thick and gen­er­ally taste best when cooked or steamed. They can also be eaten raw, chopped and in salads.

  • David John dis­cusses how Vidalia onions dif­fer from other onions; how to pre­pare and enjoy cac­tus leaves.


  • Zuc­chini is deli­cious on its own. Sim­ply grill and serve as a side with a driz­zle of olive oil. Add a shake or two of salt and pep­per. Zuc­chini per­fec­tion.

    That’s one rea­son­able way to approach this pro­lific sum­mer veg­etable when we have only a cou­ple of these lit­tle green ras­cals to con­tem­plate.

    Since the beloved squash is so com­pat­i­ble with other fresh pro­duce items (toma­toes, egg­plant, mush­rooms, etc.) we’ve learned to marry it in dishes like rata­touille, frit­tatas and soups.

    The case for Ital­ian squash abun­dance needs con­sid­er­a­tion. Between home gar­dens, farm­ers mar­kets and local farm pro­duc­tion, the mar­ket gets sat­u­rated with late sum­mer zuc­chini.

    Good then that inven­tive­ness is hard at work on the zuc­chini project. A bumper squash crop inspires swap outs in dishes that typ­i­cally call for higher carb ingre­di­ents like pasta, rice, tor­tillas and breads.