“What IS that?” asked a skeptical shopper at the West Chester Growers Market, pointing to a spiky, lime-green cruciferous veggie.

“Romanesco,” the smiling vendor replied. Then he explained more and made the sale.

Like broccoli and cauliflower, it’s part of the brassica family.

“People are crazy about brassicas right now, and so am I,” said Emma Cunniff of Kneehigh Farm, a CSA (community-supported agriculture) and farm stand in Pottstown. “I think brassicas are underappreciated because they’re usually cooked in a way that isn’t appetizing.”

Think limp broccoli, and you get the idea. Done right, brassicas have a “sweet, spicy, umami flavor,” she described. Plus, they’re fiber-rich, nutrient-dense and “super-hardy.”

“They’re not as scary as they seem. You can incorporate them into a lot of the meals you’re already making,” agreed Frank Kurylo of Kimberton CSA, who also sells at the Lansdale Farmers’ Market. “If you’re trying to explore new foods and new brassicas, CSAs and farmers’ markets are great places to go because you’ll find varieties you won’t get in the supermarket.”

Ever tasted kohlrabi?“It’s a lot sweeter than you’d think,” he added. “You can treat it like you would a cabbage and get a little sweeter outcome.”

Cabbage is another brassica. So are kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, turnips and rutabagas.

“Brassicas are usually a lot yummier if you’re eating locally in the fall, so this is the time to dig in!” Cunniff said.

Roasted Cauliflower with Toasted Nuts and Anchovy Dressing

Ingredients1 medium/large cauliflower

Sunflower oil or any high-heat oil

Salt, to taste2 tablespoons capers

¼ to ½ cup toasted nuts (pine nuts, hazelnuts or almonds), chopped

Fresh parsley, chopped, to taste

For the dressing:2 salt-packed anchovies, rinsed, deboned, and chopped

1 teaspoon mustard1 teaspoon mayonnaise

¼ cup olive oilPinch of saltPinch of sugar

A few splashes of sherry vinegar, to taste

½ lemon, juiced and zestedInstructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut up florets and rub with sunflower oil and salt. Roast on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes. Remove and set aside. Mix together dressing ingredients. Toss cauliflower with capers, toasted nuts and parsley. Top with dressing.


Turnips au GratinIngredients2 teaspoons butter

5 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

2 large turnips, thinly sliced2 large rutabagas, peeled and thinly sliced

Salt and pepper2 cups heavy cream (or milk)

4 sprigs parsley½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

InstructionsPreheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange layers of potatoes, turnips and rutabagas in a buttered casserole dish. Alternate each layer with salt and pepper. Heat the cream and the parsley and pour over vegetables. Cover with the cheese and bake for 45 minutes until vegetables are softened.

Variations: Substitute dill for parsley. Top with breadcrumbs.


Rutabaga with ApplesIngredients

2 rutabagas, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tart apples, peeled and thinly sliced

½ cup fresh orange juice2 tablespoons butter

Salt and white pepperInstructions

Just barely cover the rutabagas with water in a frying pan. Bring to a boil and then simmer until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain. Place apples in the same pan. Add orange juice, cover and simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Puree apples and their cooking liquid. Add the rutabaga and puree until smooth. Return to frying pan and heat (simmer off any excess liquid). Add the butter, salt and white pepper. Serve immediately.


Broccoli Cheddar SoupIngredients

6 tablespoons butter1 small onion, chopped

¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons flour

2 cups heavy whipping cream3 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves¼ teaspoon nutmegPinch of salt, pinch of pepper

1 head of broccoli, chopped1 carrot, chopped

1 (8-ounce) block Conebella Farm Sharp Cheddar, grated

InstructionsMelt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the chopped onion. When onion is soft and golden brown, add flour and stir, being careful to blend fully without scorching. Slowly add the cream and then the chicken broth, bay leaves, nutmeg and salt. Simmer 20 minutes. Add broccoli and carrot and simmer an additional 20 minutes until soft. Let cool slightly, remove bay leaves and transfer soup to a blender. Blend until carrots and broccoli are finely chopped or pureed. Return soup to pot. Add cheese and stir until melted.


Sautéed Broccoli & Tomato with Bacon & Parmesan

Ingredients1 head of broccoli, cut into florets

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved4 slices of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper

InstructionsIn a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring frequently, until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside. Add the broccoli, tomatoes, salt and pepper to skillet and sauté, stirring often, until broccoli is tender (about 8 to 10 minutes). Top with Parmesan and bacon and serve!


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