Chef Jessica's Seasonal Produce Picks for June
Updated: Jun 4
Farmers Market season is finally upon us and Chef Jessica of The Almond Tree is sharing her list of what to pick up while it's in season this month, AND a fabulous Bhakti Bowl recipe!
A favorite amongst the young and old, strawberries are a lot more versatile than you may think. This family favorite can be eaten simply as is, made into desserts like pie and ice cream or used in savory applications like soup and salsa. The strawberry we know and love today was originally bred in the 1750s. If you ever decide to grow strawberries yourself, you may notice the interesting way the plant propagates itself. Strawberry plants will send out stolons, or runners, (horizontal, leafless stems) which will then create a new clone plant. In the ideal growing conditions, a strawberry plant can send out 30-50 runners and produce an abundance of berries. Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen in the spring and, as a perennial, once planted they’ll return every year to help welcome in the warmer seasons.
STRAWBERRIES are an excellent source of vitamin C which has been shown to support immune function, as well as vitamin B9, which is important for normal tissue and cell growth.
Carrots, one of the most popular root vegetables, come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Carrot varieties range from white, to classic orange, all the way to black. Some are short and fat, some are long and skinny. Some are super sweet while others are earthy or bitter. Similar to the radish, this vast array of flavors means you should always taste your carrots before cooking with them. The first documented recipe to ever list carrots as an ingredient was from Italy in the 1300s. Today, there are over 40 different varieties of carrots available throughout the world. The good news is that with all of this variation, you can’t go wrong! Just make sure to choose carrots that are firm. Like the kohlrabi and radish, the greens are not just edible but tasty and nutritious too.
CARROTS are rich in beta carotene which the body converts into vitamin A, and are also a great source of B6 which plays an essential role in the body's conversion of food into energy.
Unusual and under-valued, kohlrabi is German for “cabbage turnip” and is a part of the mustard family. The flavor of this enlarged stem is mildly sweet and can be compared to that of broccoli stems or even turnips, with a crispy, fresh texture. This bulbous veggie can be enjoyed raw or cooked, plus the entire plant is edible including the leaves (I love no-scrap veggies!). When selecting a kohlrabi, look for a bulb similar in size to a tennis ball -3 inches or so in diameter- as these will be a bit sweeter and more tender. They’re available in purple and green but don’t worry about the color of the stem; the inside will always be off-white and will have a similar taste. If the leaves are still attached look for those that are firm and dark green.
KOHLRABI is a good source of potassium, an essential nutrient and electrolyte that has been shown to play an essential role in fluid balance, muscle health and nerve function.
A cousin to kohlrabi, radishes are also a cruciferous vegetable and are entirely edible from root to leaves. They vary in size, shape and color, as well as taste but they’re generally known for their spicy, earthy flavor. The spiciness of a radish is the result of several chemical compounds which are affected by the temperature at which they’re grown — the hotter the weather, the spicier the radish. As a result of this, you should always taste your radishes before adding them to any dish. They have few pest issues, are easy to grow and quick to harvest, making them a great starter plant for aspiring gardeners. One of my favorite ways to enjoy a radish is in the “French style”; fresh from the garden, served whole, dipped in cultured butter and topped with flaky sea salt. They can also be steamed, sautéed, roasted or braised depending on the dish you’re preparing.
RADISHES contain the natural antifungal protein RsAFP2 which has been shown to kill some common fungal infections found in humans.
Bhakti Bowl Recipe
Ready in 60 minutes
This Bhakti Bowl - full of ginger, cumin and cilantro - has distinct Indian flavors, and features delicious seasonal produce that should be available at your local farmers market this June. Bhakti literally means “attachment, participation, fondness for, homage, faith, love, devotion, worship, purity”.
My take on a “Bhakti Bowl” is a great way to pay homage to Indian culture while participating in our communities and supporting small farms.
This dish can be prepared in advance to save you time. Gluten-free, dairy-free and adaptable to your dietary preferences, this is a light, nutrient-dense dish that the whole family can enjoy, and is a perfect meal for ushering in the summer.
If you are going to create this dish entirely from scratch, begin by preparing your chutney first.
Don’t feel like making the chutney?
Purchase something similar from a local purveyor like Kiss Flower Farm or Stoneledge Gardens and save yourself some time while supporting your community!
Strawberry-Cilantro Chutney Recipe
(adapted from Twists & Zests)
22 oz strawberries, leaves and stem removed, thinly sliced
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp coriander seed, lightly crushed/coarsely ground
1 tsp white peppercorns, lightly crushed/coarsely ground
1 tsp mustard seed, lightly crushed/coarsely ground
2 tsp minced ginger
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
¼ - ½ cup honey (sub maple syrup or other sweetener for vegan option)
Combine all ingredients except cilantro leaves in a large pot. Heat on low for 40-60 minutes stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Remove chutney from heat. Stir in coarsely chopped cilantro.
Once chutney has mostly cooled, add honey to taste.
While chutney cooks, start basmati rice.
Cook basmati rice according to the package or use any number of excellent recipes on the internet - like this one!
Once the rice is simmering, cook your protein.
While your protein cooks, start Kachumber.
adapted from A Life (Time) of Cooking
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds, lightly crushed/coarsely ground
1 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed/coarsely ground
2 serrano chilies, or other green chilies (to taste/optional), thinly sliced
2 small kohlrabi, peeled and julienned or shredded
2 medium carrots, julienned or shredded
5-6 medium radishes, julienned or shredded
whatever leaves you have from kohlrabi, carrots and radishes, chopped
lemon juice to taste (at least ½ a lemon)
salt and pepper to taste
Farmers Market doesn’t have kohlrabi, carrots or radishes?
Sub any or all of these ingredients for other hardy seasonal vegetables like turnips, beets or cabbage.
Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan. Add the mustard seeds and allow to cook till they pop. Then add the chillies and cumin seeds.
Once the dish is aromatic, add the kohlrabi, carrot and radish, and any of their leaves you’ve reserved. Stir and cook until veggies are still crispy but warmed through.
Remove from the heat and season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Possible add-ons: shredded coconut, raisins or other dried fruit, nuts or seeds, use whatever you have on hand
Assemble your bowl.
Add rice, kachumber, and protein.
Top with chutney or leave on the side for dipping.
Add chopped cilantro, yogurt, nuts or seeds, raisins or other dried fruit, sev (Indian crunchy noodles), or anything else that looks appealing in your pantry or fridge.
I love the tang of fermented foods so I might add pickles, depending on how I feel that day. Think about your flavor preferences and let your imagination lead the way.
Chef Jessica Mandelbaum is the Founder of The Almond Tree, an ethical eating company.