It’s amazing how easily we can view ‘unknown’ vegetables as strange and therefore undesirable. I believe that exploration and fearless courage are keys to eating healthfully and deliciously. Enter roots and bulbs: Kohlrabi, Daikon, and Fennel bulb.
A few years ago I would have scratched my head. Nope. Couldn’t have identified them in a produce lineup.
I came across some Daikon on sale the other day. I decided to practice some exploratory cuisine and bought them, not knowing how to prepare them. (That’s alright, we live in the information age! Not a problem!)
After some googling I decided to turn them into a fresh salady-slaw. It was a hit! Daikon is a type of radish, very fresh and crisp with a mild, sweet flavor. Peeled and sliced thin (I used a mandolin to get papery-thin slices) – they were the perfect beginnings to a great side.
Inspired by a simple cabbage slaw that we eat often I added carrot, green onions, and threw in another uncommon but delicious vegetable: Fennel bulb.
Fennel is also known as Sweet Anise – and has a mild but fresh licorice-esque taste. It might sound strange (because in America we think of the black rubbery candy) but it adds a fresh brightness and a touch of sweet to salads when added in thin slices.
When I get stuck in a rut with side dishes, I really like the idea of using a recipe that I know we love (a fresh cabbage slaw to go with Mexican food) and using new and different substitutes to mix things up. Here’s an example of how I think:
MEXICAN CABBAGE SLAW
- Cabbage, shredded
- Radishes, sliced thin
- Red onion, sliced
- Fresh Cilantro, chopped
- Simple Lime-based dressing (lime juice, salt, olive oil)
DAIKON & CARROT VARIATION
- Daikon radish & Carrots sliced thin
- Fennel Bulb sliced thin
- Green onions (scallions), sliced
- Green Fennel tops & Parseley, chopped
- Lemon juice & Apple Cider Vinegar dressing (lemon juice, salt, olive oil)
BEET & CUCUMBER VARIATION
- Raw beets, sliced paper thin
- Cucumbers, sliced
- Sweet yellow onion, sliced
- Fresh Rosemary, chopped
- Balsamic vinegar – based dressing (balsamic, salt, olive oil)
The basic idea is starting with a root or bulb vegetable – slice or shred it, then add some form of onion, fresh herbs and a different acid for the dressing – and bang! It can be re-incarnated in many different forms! Asian, Thai, Latin, Mediterranean… all depending on the dressing and herb choice.
If you want to grow in confidence in making homemade salad dressings, check out an older post of mine here.
Have fun and try something new this week!