With the holiday season in full swing, our local farmers are continuing to harvest some exceptional produce from the fields.
The cooler weather and nice spats of rain have finally produced some wintry conditions in our area, elevating the flavor and sugar levels of root vegetables such as carrots and beets, as well as the deliciously sweet tangerines and oranges on display.
The wide array of winter greens are also thriving, currently as vibrant and flavorful as they come.
This week I focused on the petite baby bok choy at the farmers markets, making sure to grab quite a few heads. I have become quite fond of this green over the past few years, primarily due to the wonderful textural balance of the crunchy base and softer top leaves.
Most commonly sautéed, bok choy is also a great addition to soups, or in raw preparations such as salads and spring rolls. Its flavor is slightly sweet with underlying notes of its relative mustard greens. I find it also delivers a mixed flavor profile to that of cabbage and spinach.
This week I prepared a dish with sautéed white sweet potatoes, carrots, sugar snap peas and bok choy. Because the bok choy cooks down quite fast, it is added toward the end of the cooking process, along with some minced garlic.
This is a nice side that pairs most quite well alongside chicken, pork and fish preparations.
This week the Saturday Santa Barbara farmers market will be closed because of Christmas. It will be open the following week on New Year’s Day.
Sautéed Bok Choy and White Sweet Potato and Sugar Snap Peas
2 tablespoons olive oil of sesame oil.
3 heads of baby bok choy. (You can also use a large head of standard bok choy.)
1 large sweet potato peeled and diced. (I prefer the yellow or white fleshed varieties for this.)
2 large carrots, peeled and diced.
1/2 pound sugar snap peas, stems pulled down to remove stem and string.
Salt and pepper.
4 cloves garlic, minced (after mincing place in a small bowl and drizzle with olive oil).
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped (or use fresh parsley but about half the quantity.
Cut off the very base end of the bok choy and discard. Slice each bok choy lengthwise into about four equal pieces, then set aside.
In a large sauté pan, add oil and bring to high heat. Add sweet potato and carrot and sauté for about 3 minutes. Then add sugar snap peas and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the sweet potato is just cooked.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add bok choy and garlic and sauté for about 2 more minutes. Make sure the bok choy has direct contact with the pan, and flip once halfway through to create a nice sear on each side.
Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve warm.
Yield: Makes about 4 small or 2 large sides.