I'm always looking for new things to play around with in my kitchen. I think I like the names of food just as much as the food itself! Take freekeh, for example. How can you not like a grain called freekeh, which I've written about before?
There’s a legume called moong dal! There’s an edible plant called nasturtium – not to be confused with the frightening movie character Nosfuratu from the 1920's! This lovable plant is nothing to be afraid of. Then, of course, there's fungus! Oh man, I love me some fungus – edible mushrooms, that is.
Legumes are a variety of plants that have a type of pod. In this category are lentils, beans and even soy. My favorite legume of late is the mung bean! I found it recently at the Indian grocery store. It comes 3 ways: whole, split with husk and split de-husked. I chose the de-husked split called yellow moong dal. I purchased a large 2 pound bag of them for $3.99 and got a few pointers on how to prepare them and couldn't wait to get home! They are simply delicious and really healthy. Not only are they filling, but high in fiber and protein and very economical. Click here for my favorite new recipe!
Let's talk mushrooms! I grew up hating mushrooms. My dad used to make this cream of mushroom soup/hamburger combo and served it over white toast. All I can recall is something very grey and gooey. I used to pretend I was allergic to mushrooms so that I could get away with not eating them! But finally, I realized that mushrooms are so amazing when not served in grey creamy goo. I like to toss them in a skillet with onions, garlic and fresh spinach as a base for just about anything! Portobello mushrooms with olive oil on the grill are absolutely delicious! Toss a little thyme on there and it's as good as steak to me. The Asian markets have a wide variety of dried mushrooms such as shitake and black fungus, also known as wood ear. Those are easy to hydrate and throw in stir fries and soups. Mushrooms are high in selenium, potassium and are a good source of fiber.
Since spring is here, it's the perfect time to get a few packs of seeds and plant some nasturtiums! These easy to grow plants bloom all summer long and are completely edible – even the flowers and leaves. They have an intense peppery taste that dress up any salad. Their blooms are intense orange and vivid yellow and are incredible ornaments on a summer plate! They thrive easily in a pot at your back door and will add lots of color to your summer! You can also infuse this plant with white balsamic vinegar and olive oil and creates a beautiful delicious salad dressing.