THE FOODIE FILES: Verdant, Leafy Love

By on June 7, 2016

Long live the season that delivers piles of veggies onto our plates.

Get your hands on these sweet baby turnips in season now. Then douse them in olive oil and salt and roast them in a hot oven. (Photo: Annie Fenn, MD)

Get your hands on these sweet baby turnips in season now. Then douse them in olive oil and salt and roast them in a hot oven. (Photo: Annie Fenn, MD)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Hello summer. The countdown is on until the first farmers market of the season and we are already seeing some gorgeous produce trickle into our grocery stores. Have you discovered the baby turnips grown by Aspens Market on Teton Pass? How about the Vertical Harvest Bumble Bee Cherry Tomatoes—so sweet and good I pop one in my mouth whenever I walk through the kitchen. I’ve also been eating enough of the first good plump blueberries that I may turn blue, Violet Beauregarde-style.

Yes, I am already thinking about my summer bucket list, not just the adventures I want to pack into the next few months, but also all the summer foods I want to cook. And when I say cook, I mean in the easiest, most minimalist way. Like this week’s recipe: Miso Baby Turnips that roast up sweet and caramelized in 20 minutes. That is, if they don’t get eaten raw first. The season’s first turnips are so tender they don’t even need to be peeled. I love eating them raw, drizzled with local honey and crunchy sea salt.

The first thing on my summer bucket list is to stuff your recipe box with new ways to eat vegetables with minimal fuss. Why the obsession with veggies you ask? Because summer is the easiest time to eat well with the least amount of effort, and because there’s such a short window of time to celebrate local foods grown close to home. And with all those adventures we’ll be going on, we need to be in optimal physical shape as we traipse around the mountains, bike everywhere, and paddle our hearts out on the lakes and rivers.

There’s another reason I am obsessed with eating my vegetables and getting you to eat them, too. Along with my students in the Brain Works cooking classes, I am trying to eat as many brain-healthy foods as possible to reduce my chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Brain Works is an eight-week course for the community designed by Dr. Martha Stearn of the Cognitive Health department of St. John’s Medical Center. It’s my current passion to develop recipes for the program that are easy, delicious, and crave-worthy.

Want to get on the brain-healthy eating plan? Eat at least one serving of leafy green vegetables and another type of vegetable every day. Boost your intake of beans, nuts, lean meats, berries, whole grains, fish and poultry. Make olive oil your primary cooking oil, and—this is my favorite part—drink five ounces of red wine each day.

This summer as I stroll through the farmers markets, visiting with my favorite vendors, I’ll be thinking about how many brain-healthy foods I can pack into each recipe. I’ll choose organic more often than not since pesticide residue has been shown to cause oxidative stress on brain cells. I’ll buy my meat from the ranchers who raise grass fed beef, known to be high in brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. When the blueberries come into season in full force, I’ll be sure to stock up on enough to get me through next winter.

Brain-healthy eating is not just for those of us who are, ahem, reaching a certain age. Everyone should be thinking about taking care of this most precious organ, especially if your brain has been jostled around a bit. I’m talking to you: hockey and football players, skiers, snowboarders, and soccer players who love to head the ball. Eating a diet packed with brain-healthy foods has not only been shown to prevent dementia (by as much as 53 percent), it can also improve memory.

But please, don’t eat more vegetables just because they will keep your brain humming along at optimal performance. Eat them because they are delicious, make you feel good, and help you keep doing the things you love to do.

Let’s kick-start your summer veggie routine with these late spring/early summer turnips. These little guys come with a crown of leafy greens attached. Those greens are edible, packed with nutrition, and delicious, but over time they can suck the moisture out of your delicate baby turnip root. If you won’t be eating the turnips right away, cut off the greens about an inch above the stem, wash under cold water, and blot dry. Store the greens in the fridge wrapped in a kitchen towel. Toss into salads, fold into a stir-fry, or sauté in a pan with olive oil with your morning eggs.

Once you’ve made my* Miso Baby Turnips, brainstorm what other vegetable you could glaze with this addicting sauce. I’d choose these sweet and salty nibbles over a bag of potato chips any day.

*Ok, my recipe is actually adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Miso Turnips recipe from her new cookbook, It’s All Easy, Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook. Kudos to Gwynie for loving her vegetables too.

Upcoming foodie events

The People’s Market. The first farmers market of the season is June 15, every Wednesday at the base of Snow King from 4 to 7 pm until September 21.

Field Rations + Persephone Pop-Up. Join Chef Brian Laughlin and his team as they present a very special five-course seasonal dinner at Persephone Café. Wine pairings curated by Bent Frenchman Selections. Tickets are going fast; get them at fieldrations.com. Friday, June 10 and Saturday, June 11.

Stein/Hamilton collaboration at Sub Rosa. Chef René Stein has a summer full of chef collaborations in store for us, starting with Chef Wes Hamilton from Couloir and Piste. The two chefs will be cooking in the Rose’s tiny kitchen for two seatings of Sub Rosa this Wednesday, June 8. Reserve your spot at therosejh.com.

Brain Works. My dementia prevention cooking classes are wrapping up for this session but will resume in September. Contact St. John’s Medical Center for information about the next class.

Recipe: Miso Baby Turnips

Serves four as a snack or a side.

1 pound baby turnips, small ones left whole and large ones cut in half or thirds
Olive oil
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Place turnips on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil and salt. Roast for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt together the butter, miso paste, and maple syrup over medium heat.

Pull the pan of turnips from the oven and coat with the miso sauce. Place back in the oven for three to five minutes, or until beginning to brown. PJH

After delivering babies and practicing gynecology for 20 years in Jackson, Annie traded in her life as a doctor to pursue her other passion: writing about food, health, sustainability and the local food scene. Follow her snippets of mountain life, with recipes at jacksonholefoodie.com and on Instagram @jacksonholefoodie.


About Annie Fenn, MD

After delivering babies and practicing gynecology for 20 years in Jackson, Annie traded her life as a doctor to pursue her other passion: writing about food, health, sustainability and the local food scene. Follow her snippets of mountain life, with recipes, at www.jacksonholefoodie.com and on Instagram @jacksonholefoodie.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login