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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Vegetables/Salads/Fresh Herbs

TIP OF THE DAY: Regrow Scallions From The Roots


These scallions were re-grown from the sliced-off root ends. Photo courtesy Hidden
Valley | Facebook.


Nobody eats the roots of green onions or leeks, a sprouting bulb of garlic and other vegetable discards. They end up as landfill.

But you can regrow some vegetable scraps in water, as long as you have a little sunlight.

We saw this tip on Hidden Valley’s Facebook page and then did further research, ending up on A reader’s comments on that site advises:

After the new plants have started, you can keep growing them in water or else transfer them to soil so they’ll pick up nutrients and become more flavorful.

  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Romaine
  • Scallions (Green Onions)
    Try it both ways—water and soil—and see what works for you. Make it your “indoor farming” project for fall.

    Here’s how to do it from



    RECIPE: Baked Acorn Squash With Wild Rice

    September 7th is National Acorn Squash Day. If today’s weather is to warm for roasting, plan to make it on the next cool day.

    You can serve stuffed acorn squash as a first course, or as a main along with a protein and a green vegetable or salad.

    This recipe is from USA Pears, which has many recipes on its website.


    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 3 acorn squash
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • ¾ cup wild rice
  • 1½ cups canned low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 large rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/pear stuffed acorn squash USAPears 230

    Baked acorn squash is stuffed with wild rice, nuts, fruits and herbs. Photo courtesy USA Pears.

  • 2 firm Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into ½-inch dice (substitute
    Granny Smith apples)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Toast the nuts to bring out their full flavor. Place the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350°F oven until lightly browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. When the nuts come out, the squash goes in.

    2. CUT each squash in half crosswise. Scoop out and discard the seeds and strings. If necessary, trim the top and bottom so that the squash will be level, and place on a rimmed baking sheet, cut side up.

    3. SPRINKLE each half with a little salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste. Dot each half wit butter, using 3 tablespoons. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake the squash just until moist and tender, about 45 minutes.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/acorn duo beauty goodeggs 230

    The first acorn squash of the season. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.


    4. COMBINE the rice, broth, salt and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender, about 40 minutes. When the rice is done most of the water should be evaporated.

    5. HEAT the olive oil in a 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat. Swirl to coat the pan and sauté the onion, garlic, celery and carrot until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the pears and sauté 2 minutes longer. Cover the pan, adjust the heat to medium-low and cook the vegetables until crisp-tender, 3 minutes longer. Add the sage, thyme and parsley and sauté 1 more minute. Remove from the heat.

    6. COMBINE the cooked rice, sautéed vegetables, pears, walnuts, and dried cranberries in a large bowl. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Mound the rice mixture into the squash halves, dividing it evenly. Cut the remaining tablespoon of butter into small pieces. Dot each stuffed squash with butter. Cover with foil. Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes.


    Acorn squash (Cucurbita pepo var. turbinata) is a member of the Cucurbitaceae botanical family, which also includes cucumber, gourds, other winter squash (including pumpkin), summer squash (including zucchini and yellow squash) and watermelon.

    Known for its acorn shape, hard green skin (often with a splotch of orange) and deep, longitudinal ridges. Inside is sweet, yellow-orange flesh. While the most common variety is dark green in color, newer varieties have been developed, including the yellow- and white-skinned varieties.

    Acorn squashes typically weigh one to two pounds and are between four and seven inches long. Before modern refrigeration, acorn squash was a hardy variety to store throughout the winter. It kept for several months in a cool dry location, such as a cold cellar or a root cellar.

    Acorn squash are indigenous to Central America, and were cultivated by pre-Columbian natives (Mayas, Aztecs and their predecessors) as long as 8,000 years ago. Initially, only the seeds were eaten since the flesh was considered too hard. The flesh layer at the time was much thinner than modern-bred varieties, so not worth the trouble. Today, it is flesh that is prized and the seeds that are typically thrown away!

    Squash traveled north and across what is now the U.S., where it was cultivated and highly prized. The seeds were dried for eating during lean times, or as portable food for travelers.

    The Pilgrims encountered it upon their arrival in Massachusetts. The locals called the fruit askutasquash, which gave way to the English word “squash.”

    Squash became a staple of colonial gardens. Both Washington and Jefferson, among many others, grew squash on their plantations and farms. Today, while other Colonial garden items have come and gone (horehound, lovage, orach and peppergrass, purslane, sea kale and others), squash remains on the popular vegetable list.




    RECIPE: Lyonnaise Salad With Bacon & Eggs

    You may know Lyonnaise potatoes, sliced pan-fried potatoes and thinly sliced onions, sautéed in butter with parsley; Rosette de Lyon, a cured rosy saucisson (French pork sausage); and Lyonnaise sauce, a brown sauce for roasted or grilled meat and poultry, made with white wine, vinegar and onions.

    Some of our favorites from the area include as coq au vin and quenelles (a mouselline of pike in cream sauce—the more elegant cousin of gefilte fish)*.

    And now, there’s the classic Salade Lyonnaise (pronounced lee-owe-NEZ), which combines frisée lettuce with bacon, croutons and a poached egg—a great combination of flavors and textures.

    Since the recipe uses raw eggs, pasteurized eggs are a worry-free solution (here’s more about pasteurized eggs and the 12 popular foods where you should consider them to eliminate the Salmonella risk).

    Prep time is 20 minutes; total time is 35 minutes.


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 extra-thick bacon slices
  • 12 asparagus spears, trimmed (optional)
  • 3 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 pasteurized eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 5 cups frisée salad greens
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


    Lyonnaise Salad with bacon and eggs: Perfect for brunch or lunch. Photo courtesy


    1. CUT bacon strips into 2 x 1/2-inch pieces. Cook in skillet over medium heat about 5 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Meanwhile…

    2. BRING 2 inches water to boil in wide saucepan or skillet. Cook the asparagus for 3-4 minutes or just until crisp-tender. Immediately drop the asparagus into bowl of cold water to cool. Drain on paper towels.

    3. WHISK together in small bowl the vinegar, oil, garlic, salt, pepper and mustard. Set aside.

    4. FILL a deep saucepan or large sauté pan half full with water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add 1/2 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice. Crack eggs individually into small custard cup or bowl and gently ease eggs into water, one at a time, holding cup as low as possible so yolk doesn’t break. Use a spoon to gather whites around yolks of each egg and continue to simmer about 3 minutes, or to desired doneness.

    5. ASSEMBLE the salad: Mound greens in center of each plate. Arrange the asparagus over the greens and sprinkle with bacon. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Carefully place a poached egg on top of each salad. Offer salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve immediately.


  • Use 2-1/2 cups frisée and 2-1/2 cups dark kale leaves, cut into ribbons, or baby kale, in place of all frisée.
  • Substitute green beans for asparagus.
  • Here’s another version of the recipe.
    *Here’s more about Lyonnaise cuisine.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/frisee hy 230

    A head of frisée. Photo courtesy



    Frisée has very narrow, curly pale leaves that grow in a bush-like cluster and are feathery in appearance. The name means “curly” and the lettuce is sometimes called curly endive.

    Frisée is a member of the chicory genus of lettuces, which includes endive. Chicories are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals—especially folate and vitamins A and K.

    Frisée is often included in mesclun and other salad mixes. It is extremely labor-intensive to grow, and therefore one of the costliest salad ingredients. For that reason, it isn’t a conventional supermarket item, but can be found at upscale markets and purveyors of fine produce.

    Frisée has a distinctive flavor and a delightful bitterness—less bitter than its cousins endive and radicchio. Its exotic feathery appearance has great eye appeal.

    Tips For Using Frisée

  • As with many salad greens, tear it rather cut it with a knife, or the edges may brown. Tear it shortly before use.
  • The tough, external leaves are best used as a plate garnish or fed to the gerbil.
  • Dress the salad right before bringing it to the table, so that it doesn’t discolor or become waterlogged.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Shishito Chile (Or Pepper Or Chile Pepper)

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/shisito spoonforkbacon 230

    Before cooking, bright green. Photo


    The shishito pepper is a relative newcomer to American cuisine. Finger-shaped, slender and sweet (not hot), it is growing in popularity as a snack, blistered on the stove top or grill.

    The shishito is named after its shape: The tip of the chili pepper was seen to resemble the head of a lion (shishi) and the word for chile is togarashi. Combine the words into shishitogarashi, which is often shortened to shishito (pronounced she-SHE-toe).

    Bred in Japan, this East Asian variety of the New World Capsicum annuum, like many chiles, is harvested when green. It would turn red if left to ripen on the vine (that’s the difference between green and red jalapeños).

    While shishitos are mild, every so often a hot one will surprise you. We found one estimate that heat can occur in one out of every ten chiles, the anomaly attributed by one botanist to “stress on the vine.” Think of eating shishitos as a fun game, “Shishito Roulette.” The winners gets an extra beer!

    The shishito is very similar to the Spanish padrón chile, in both looks and flavor. So if you can find the latter but not the former, use the information below and cook away.

    Where to find them? We found ours at Trader Joe’s, and have also seen them at farmers markets. If you garden, you can grow your own.


    If you can make roasted or charred vegetables of any kind, you can cook shishito peppers.

  • Poke a tiny hole in each chile so they don’t burst from the build-up of hot air inside, or skewer them for grilling. We used a cake tester to poke a hole in the bottom cleft of each chile, although it won’t be visible after cooking so you can poke it anywhere.
  • Sauté the chiles in oil in a hot pan on the stove top, under the broiler, or on a grill. We used canola oil with a splash of dark sesame oil (it’s a strong flavor and you’ll want just a hint).
  • Turn the chiles frequently until they are blistered all over, 10 to 15 minutes. Because the walls of the shishito are thin, they cook quickly. When cooked, toss with a bit of salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
  • You can also roast them in an oven or toaster oven.
  • To eat, pick up a chile by its stem (but you won’t want to eat the stem). If you want to be elegant, use chopsticks or a fork.
  • Enjoy while hot; as they cool, the chiles lose their crispness.
  • If you want to add some spice, the ideal one is Japanese 7 Spice, shichimi togarashi. It’s a blend of black and/or white sesame seeds, dried nori seaweed, hot red pepper, ginger, orange peel and other ingredients such as hemp seed, poppyseed and white pepper. You can blend your own or buy it.


  • Appetizers and sides. Shishitos are popular in Japanese cuisine as appetizers, like edamame.
  • Deep-fried. If you like fried food, deep-fry them and serve with a wedge of lemon. (Go ahead, bring out the ketchup, too.)
  • Tempura. Serve as a tempura snack or as part of a tempura entrée.
  • With a beer. A match made in heaven.
  • With a yogurt dip. Blend 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard and 1 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha or other hot sauce.
  • Sandwiches. Add a cooked shishito between the bread of a grilled cheese sandwich or pannini.
  • Breakfast. Slice and add the cooked chiles to an omelet or scrambled eggs, a good use for leftovers that are no longer crisp.
  • Salad. Ditto.
  • Side. Serve in medley with other roasted vegetables.


    Cooked: delightful! Photo courtesy Nutmeg Granny, who sautés her shishitos in coconut oil. Here’s her recipe.


    Chiles were “discovered” in the Caribbean by Christopher Columbus, who called them “peppers” (pimientos, in Spanish) because of their fiery similarity to the black peppercorns with which he was familiar.

    However, there is no relationship between the two plants (or between chiles and Szechuan pepper, for that matter).

    “Pepper” is wrong, but in the U.S., it seems to have taken over. Some people use “chile pepper,” a bit of a correction.

    The term “pepper” is not used in Latin America. There, the word is chili, from chilli, the word in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs.

    But, we’d rather hear the partially incorrect “chile pepper” than the totally incorrect wrong “pepper.”

    Here’s more on the history of chiles.

    Is It Chile, Chili or Chilli?

    The original Nahuatl (Aztec) word is chilli. The conquering Spanish spelled it chile.

    In the U.K., chilli is the popular spelling. In the U.S., many people use chili, a seeming middle ground between chilli and chile.

    The choice is yours. We choose “chile” because it’s the spelling by which Europeans were introduced to the chilli.

    How many types of chiles have you had? Check them out in our Chile Glossary.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Roasted Peach & Chicken Salad

    Chicken Salad Grilled Peaches

    Inspired feasting: grilled chicken salad with
    grilled peaches. Photo courtesy Good


    There are so many ways to approach an entrée salad. This suggestion, from our favorite artisan grocer, Good Eggs of San Francisco, combines grilled proteins with grilled fruit. (They can be oven-roasted instead.)

    Good Eggs also suggests that instead of an all-green salad, you add whole grains for fiber, texture and flavor.

    Grilled or roasted, the season’s peaches add a wallop of sweet juiciness to a salad. If the peaches in your store aren’t great, you can substitute apricots, mangoes, pluots or nectarines (all are stone fruits like peaches; see details below).

    We happened to have some beautiful red rice from Lundberg on hand, and used it in our first version of this recipe (a hit!).


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 peaches, ripe but still firm
  • 1 cup whole grains (see list below)
  • 2 cups mixed greens (we include 1/3 cup spicy greens like
    arugula and watercress, or radishes)
  • Optional: 3-4 tablespoons basil, cilantro and/or parsley,
  • For The Dressing

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac or za’atar, or a combination of lemon zest and crushed red pepper flakes (more about sumac and za’atar)
  • Optional: minced herbs (some of what you use in the salad)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
    For Serving

  • Crusty bread
  • Olive oil for dipping, seasoned per taste*
    *Use infused olive oil (basil, garlic, rosemary, etc.) or season your own with dried herbs and spices.



    1. MAKE the yogurt dressing. Blend the ingredients and refrigerate to let the flavors meld. You can make this a day in advance. If the dressing is too thick at room temperature, thin it a tablespoon at a time with milk or plain kefir.

    2. GRILL the chicken breasts and sliced peaches, or roast them at 400°F, for 20 minutes. You can grill the bread at the same time. When cool enough to work with, shred or julienne the chicken.

    3. COOK the grains to al dente; you don’t want mushy grains with your crisp greens. While the grains are cooking, wash and pat dry the greens.

    4. TOSS and plate the chicken, cooked grains, salad greens and herbs. Garnish with the peaches. Pass the yogurt dressing.

    Whole grains that are common in the U.S. include barley, buckwheat, bulghur, corn, oats, quinoa, rice (only colored rice, e.g. black, brown, red), rye, wild rice and whole wheat.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/red quinoa spoon pour 230

    Read this if you need to be convinced of the benefits of whole grains. Photo of red quinoa courtesy Village Harvest.

    Whole grains that are less commonly used in the U.S. include amaranth, einkorn, farro/emmer wheat, freekeh, Kamut® Khorasan wheat, kañiwa (a cousin of quinoa), millet, sorghum, teff and triticale.

    Learn more about these grains at

    Stone fruits exist in two different botanical families. The temperate climate-based Rosales order, Rosaceae family, includes what we think of as European stone fruits plus almonds, pecans and walnuts. The tropical/subtropical-based order Sapindales, family Sapindaceae, includes familiar fruits, nuts and spices such as cashew, lychee, mango, mastic, pistachio and sumac.

    Stone fruits from the Rosaceae family are members of the Prunus genus, and include apricots, cherries, nectarines, olives, peaches, plums, and cherries and cross-breeds such as apriums, plumcots and pluots.

    A stone fruit, also called a drupe, is a fruit with a large, hard stone (pit) inside a fleshy fruit. The stone is often thought of as the the seed, but the seed is actually inside the stone.

    In fact, almonds, cashews, pecans and walnuts are examples of the seeds inside the stones. They’re also drupes, but a type in which we eat the seed inside the pit instead of the surrounding fruit.

    Not all drupes are stone fruits. The coconut is also a drupe, as are bramble fruits such as blackberries and raspberries. June through September is prime stone fruit season in the U.S.

    Enough botany for you?



    FOOD FUN: Stovetop Elote

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/elote goodeggs 230

    Elote, Spanish corn on the cob. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.


    Elote is the Mexican version of corn on the cob, a popular street food. It is often grilled, then served on a stick with lime wedge, ancho chili powder and crumbled queso fresco.

    Elote is the Aztec (Nahuatl) word for what the corn on the cob. It is pronounced ee-LOW-tee. Removed from the cob, the recipe has a different name, esquites, from the Nahuatl word for toasted corn, ízquitl.

    This hack from Good Eggs in San Francisco eliminates the need for a grill. Just use a gas range to turn ears of fresh corn into this Mexican street treat.

    Here’s more about elote, including an off-the-cob elote salad.


  • Ears of fresh corn, husked
  • Butter
  • Ancho chili powder (substitute regular chili powder)
  • Crumbled queso fresco (substitute cotija, feta or grated Parmesan)
  • Lime wedges (substitute lemon)
  • Optional: skewers (because corn is heavy, you need thick skewers; you can also use conventional cob holders or these disposable cob holders)
  • Preparation

    1. USE tongs to hold the ears of corn directly over the stove top flame, turning to to blister the kernels.

    2. REMOVE from the heat, slather with butter, roll in crumbled queso fresco and finish with a squeeze of lime and a pinch of ancho chile powder.

    In Mexico people serve the classics: ancho chili powder, lime, queso blanco. But in the U.S., some people substitute mayonnaise or sour cream (crema) for the butter.

    Pepper or seasoned salt are also options (lemon pepper is popular in Texas, per Wikipedia). Other options: cilantro, fresh parsley, oregano.

    Or for a true American take, how about crumbled bacon?



    TIP OF THE DAY: Pozole (Posole) ~ Not Just For Special Occasions

    Much of what we know about Aztec customs is thanks to Bernardino de Sahagún (1499-1590), a Franciscan friar, missionary priest, scholar and ethnographer who traveled to New Spain* (current-day Mexico) after its conquest. Arriving in 1529, he learned the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs and spent more 61 years documenting their beliefs, culture and history.

    He wrote extensively about Aztec cuisine. This article focuses on pozole (poe-SOE-leh, and often spelled posole in the U.S.), a hearty soup or stew made of hominy, meat, chiles and other seasonings.

    The dish has either a red or green color depending on the chiles used for the soup base; there’s also white pozole. In addition to the traditional pork, later variations used beans, beef, chicken and seafood.

    Pozole† is actually the Aztec word for hominy, corn that is hulled (the bran and germ have been removed) by bleaching the whole kernels in a lye bath (called nixtamalization).

    In Sahagún’s time, pozole was cooked only on special occasions. Later, it became a popular holiday and “Saturday night” dish.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/pork pozole chefIngridHoffmann 230

    Pork pozole, garnished with cabbage,
    cilantro, lime and radishes. Photo courtesy Chef Ingrid Hoffmann.

    Today, pozole is customized by each individual at the table, with garnishes that include avocado, cilantro, diced red onion, lime or lemon wedges, oregano, radishes, salsa, shredded cabbage, sour cream and tortilla chips or tostadas.

    NOTE: Don’t confuse pozole with pozol, a porrige-like drink made from fermented corn dough.
    *After an 11-year struggle for independence, New Spain became the sovereign nation of Mexico in 1821.

    †Also spelled posole, pozolé and pozolli; the original Nahuatl spelling is name is potzolli.

  • Beef Pozole With Red Chiles (Pozole Rojo)
  • Green Pozole With Chicken (Pozole Verde)
  • Red Pozole With Chicken (Pozole Rojo)
  • Red Pozole With Pork (Pozole Rojo)
  • Shrimp & Scallop Pozole (Pozole Blanco)
  • Vegetarian Pozole With Beans (Vegan Pozole Rojo)
  • White Pozole With Chicken (Pozole Blanco)
    A modern variation:

  • Pozole-Stuffed Grilled Onions

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/pozole salad kaminsky 230

    Pozole interpreted as a salad, for a first course or side. Photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.


    Today we feature a vegan pozole salad from Hannah Kamimsky of Bittersweet Blog. It is intended as a first course or a side dish.

    Ingredients For 8 Side Servings

  • 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 Savoy cabbage ((1-1/4 pounds), shredded
  • 1 can (29-ounces) cooked white hominy kernels (not hominy grits), drained and rinsed
  • 2 ripe avocados, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely minced
    For The Cilantro Dressing

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2-3 limes depending on size and juiciness)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon light agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Toss the cherry tomatoes and onion with the olive oil and oregano, and spread them in one even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 15-25 minutes, until the tomatoes are blistered and beginning to burst. Let cool. Meanwhile…

    2. PREPARE the dressing: Add the cilantro, sundried tomatoes and garlic to a food processor or blender, and slowly pour in the lime juice while running the machine on low. Thoroughly purée, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl or blender jar as needed. Once the purée is mostly smooth, add the agave, chili powder, cumin and salt next, and drizzle in the olive oil (with the motor running) to emulsify.

    3. TOSS together the tomatoes and onions, cabbage, hominy, avocados, and jalapeños in a large bowl. Pour the dressing on top and toss to coat. Chill for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to fully meld.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Okra’s In Season, What Should You Cook?

    Most people think of gumbo is a soup or stew from Louisiana, typically made with chicken or shellfish, Andouille sausage, bell peppers, celery and onions, and thickened with okra pods.

    But in the beginning, “gumbo” was simply the word for okra in the African Bantu language.

    Okra came to America with the slave trade and was introduced to the Southern white population by their African cooks. Okra became the vegetable associated with the American South*.

    Okra is a flowering plant in the mallow family, Malvaceae, which also includes cacao, cotton, hibiscus, the kola nut (the base flavor of cola drinks) and the “king of Asian fruits,” the durian, known for its strong aroma and large, thorny husk.

    The valuable part of the okra plant is its edible green seed pods. The geographical origin of okra is disputed, with champions of Ethiopian, West Africa, even South Asia. Today, the vegetable is cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world. [Source]

    Okra is used in casseroles, soups, stews and sides; added, cooked, to salads and sandwiches (try an okra grilled cheese). They can be fried or stuffed (like poppers).


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/red and green okra starlingyardsFB 230

    Okra pods were originally green, but mutations have led to the development of red and burgundy varieties. Look for them in your farmers market. Photo courtesy Starling Yards.

    But perhaps our favorite way to enjoy okra is Rick’s Picks Smokra, the most amazing smoked okra pickles. We always buy the six-packs and love them as low-calorie snacks, as exciting garnishes for dinner guests and to give as gifts.
    *Okra is also an important ingredient in cuisines in areas as far-flung as Africa, Asia and Latin America.

    We consulted the experts on the best ways to use okra. Here are Southern Living’s recommendations of the 12 best okra recipes:

  • Baked Polenta With Cheese & Okra, a special brunch casserole
  • Fried Okra Salad
  • Fried Pecan Okra
  • Okra & Corn Maque Chou (a corn and okra salad)
  • Okra Creole
  • Okra Rellenos, fried okra filled with cheese
  • Peppery Grilled Okra with lemon-basil dipping sauce
  • Pickled Okra
  • Pickled Okra & Shrimp
  • Shrimp & Okra Hush Puppies, fried cornbread bites
  • Skillet-Roasted Okra and Shrimp
  • Smashed Fried Okra

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/okra fries ulelerestaurant 230

    Okra fries. Photo courtesy Ulele Restaurant |


    But where’s the gumbo?

    We looked into THE NIBBLE archives and found:

  • Chicken Andouille Gumbo from Chef Emeril Lagasse
  • Easy Chicken & Sausage Gumbo from Chef David Venable
  • Easy Chicken & Sausage Gumbo using Swanson Louisana Cajun
    Flavor Infused Broth

    Some people avoid okra because of the “slimy” texture. That okra just hasn’t been cooked correctly. Here are slime-busting tips from Okra, a Savor the South cookbook by Virginia Willis.:

  • Choose small fresh okra pods. The smaller the okra, the less slime.
  • Cook okra at high heat: roasting at high temperatures, searing in a cast iron pan, deep fat frying or grilling are techniques that limit the slime.
  • Wash and dry the pods very thoroughly. Wet okra will steam, causing it to “slime.”
  • Cook okra in small batches. Overcrowding brings the heat down, which starts steaming and sliming the okra/
  • Add an acid when cooking okra. Citrus juice, tomato, vinegar and wine add flavor while limiting the slime.
    Up first for us: fried okra with ketchup!



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Savory Tomato Pie Or Tart

    Tomatoes are the second most widely consumed vegetable in the U.S., after potatoes. That’s not all sliced tomatoes, mind you, but tomato sauce on pasta and pizza, tomatoes in ketchup and salad.

    According to the USDA, Americans consumed 31.1 pounds of tomatoes per capita in 2013, 59% of them in canned form (much of which, presumably, went into tomato sauce).

    Botanically speaking, the tomato is a fruit, but 122 years ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it, for tax reasons, a vegetable. (Ah, if the enlightened justices of today would just reverse that misguided decision. More about it is below.)

    Thanks to Restaurant Hospitality for passing along this recipe from Chef Jack Gilmore of Jack Allen’s Kitchen in Austin, Texas.

    Serve it as you would a quiche: in small wedges as a first course, as a main with a salad.



  • 3 ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup Cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 prepared pie shell (purchased or homemade)
  • 6 large basil leaves, cut or torn into pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mayonnaise

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/tomato basil pie jackskitchenAustinTx 230r

    This pie is filled with sweet summer tomatoes and three types of cheese.
    Photo courtesy Jack Allen’s Kitchen |



    1. SEASON the tomato slices lightly with salt and pepper, and allow them to drain on a paper towel (the salt draws out the water).

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 300°F. Combine the cheeses in small bowl.

    3. LAYER the tomatoes in the pie shell. Place basil pieces on top of them. Sprinkle the cheese mixture on top of the basil.

    4. WHISK together the eggs and mayonnaise in small bowl, and pour evenly over the pie ingredients. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/cherry tomato tart unpetitchefwordpress 230

    Here’s a showier concept—a cherry tomato tart with Gruyère and a crust of pâte brisée. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy



    Who would think, when looking at the seriousness of the Supreme Court’s docket today, that in 1893 they would take up the argument of whether the tomato should be classified as a vegetable rather than a fruit. The eight or nine cases the Court can adjudicate each year cover Constitutional rights and federal law.

    United States Supreme Court decisions have shaped history. So how does the classification of the tomato fit in? It made it onto the docket because of a federal law regarding import taxes.
    It Was All About The Import Tax

    The Tariff Act of 1883 stipulated that a 10% import tax be paid on imported vegetables, but no tax was levied on imported fruit*. John Nix, an importer of tomatoes, filed the action against Edward L. Hedden, Collector of the Customs House for the Port of New York. Nix wanted to recover back taxes he had paid on tomatoes. His case asserted that he was importing a fruit, but being taxed as if it were a vegetable.

    *We’ve tried to research why fruit was exempt, but haven’t yet found the answer. Typically, it involves special interests.  

    How To Tell If It’s A Fruit

    Botanically speaking the tomato is a fruit. A fruit is the ripened ovary, formed together with seeds, from from the flowers of a plant. This how the tomato is formed.

    In easier terms, here’s how to think of a fruit:

  • Does it carry its seeds inside, like apples, citrus, melons, squash and tomatoes?
  • If the seeds are absent from the produce—as in beets, carrots, celery, herbs, lettuce and potatoes—it is botanically a vegetable.
    The issue is not how any particular culture chooses to consume a particular item of produce (sweet or savory, raw or cooked, etc.), but the botanical structure of the item. Thus, avocado is a fruit (it’s a tree fruit, like apples and pears) as are cucumbers (relatives to melons).

    With science on his side, vendor Nix sued customs collector Hedden, and the case made its way through the court system—all the way to the Supreme Court.
    But The Court Disagreed With Science

    In a unanimous opinion, the Court held that the Tariff Act of 1883 used the ordinary meaning of the words “fruit” and “vegetable,” as people thought of them, instead of the scientific, botanical use. The opinion delivered by Justice Gray stated:

    “Botanically speaking, tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans, and peas. But in the common language of the people, whether sellers or consumers of provisions, all these are vegetables which are grown in kitchen gardens, and which, whether eaten cooked or raw, are, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, and lettuce, usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish, or meats which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruits generally, as dessert.” (Source:

    Wrong perspective, Justice Gray. The laws of nature should stand as is, not subjected to interpretation to fit cultural norms. Today, you can find tomato desserts (ice cream and sorbet, for starters). There are other crossovers. For example, rhubarb, a vegetable, is often prepared for dessert.

    And you should have had better clerks do your research: Beans and pea are legumes, not vegetables.

    Politically, the decision also meant more tax revenue for the United States. We guess we’re not going to get the Supreme Court to reverse the decision.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

    From our friends at Good Eggs in San Francisco, here’s how to enjoy cherry tomatoes when the tomatoes are at their sweetest and the prices are at their lowest.

    Slow-roast them and all of that rich, summer tomato sweetness will get concentrated into each bite.

    Buy two or three times as many as you need this week—ideally, an assortment of red, orange and yellow. Set aside what you’ll use fresh. Then:

  • Slice the rest of the cherry tomatoes in half.
  • Place them cut-side up on a baking sheet or pan lined with a sheet of parchment. Slow roast at 225°F for three hours.
  • Let cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. Cover with olive oil if desired.
    But before those two weeks are up, you can easily use them up:

  • In scrambled eggs and omelets
  • On plain yogurt, with oregano and/or fresh basil and dill
  • On sandwiches and burgers

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/slow roasted cherry tomatoes goodeggs 230

    It’s easy to slow-roast a batch of cherry tomatoes. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.


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    Crostini with sundried tomatoes and fromage blanc. Photo courtesy Mixed Greens Blog.

  • In green salads and protein salads (egg, chicken, tuna, etc.)
  • On pasta and pizza
  • On canapés
  • On crostini (see photo)
  • As a colorful polka-dot-like garnish for any savory food

    One of our favorite snacks, crostini with sundried cherry tomatoes, can be made in a minute (or as fast as it takes to toast the bread.

  • SPREAD toasted or grilled slices of baguette with goat cheese, other soft cheese, even Greek yogurt or sour cream.
  • TOP with sundried cherry tomatoes in olive oil.
  • GARNISH with minced basil or a shake of oregano.
    It’s easy enough for snacking, and impressive enough to serve as an hors d’oeuvre or a first course.



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