Throughout the growing season, we'll interview local farmers, chefs and other food lovers about seasonal cooking. Have a question? Email it to food writer Sarah Baker Hansen at email@example.com.
At the Yang's Garden booth at the Aksarben market Sunday, bright purple greens caught my eye.
Mary Yang told me the bunches were Chinese spinach, which she said can be used in the same ways regular spinach is prepared — cooked as part of a stir fry or raw in a salad. The vibrant leaves keep their deep hue when cooked. She said the flavor is bitter at first and then leaves a sweet aftertaste.
Yang's Garden is at the Old Market farmer's market as well as the Bellevue market on Saturday and at the Aksarben market on Sunday. It will have the purple Chinese spinach for the next few weeks.
For this week's recipe, I harkened to my trip to China, where I gained a love for simply dressed, lightly cooked greens. The recipe for Chinese stir-fried spinach comes from one of my favorite blogs, Appetite for China. Blogger Diana Kuan uses water spinach in her recipe, but any Chinese spinach could be cooked in a similar way, including the one we found at the Omaha market.
Recipe: Chinese Stir-fried Spinach
• 1 bunch of fresh water spinach or other Chinese spinach, washed
• 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
• 3-5 cloves smashed garlic
• ½ cup water
• ½ teaspoon sesame oil
• ½ teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Alternatively, you can add a few drops of soy sauce or hoisin sauce instead of chili flakes for flavor
Heat peanut oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Toss in smashed garlic. When you smell the first hints of garlic, or when the garlic begins to brown, throw in spinach. Watch as the large bunch wilts and shrinks. Pour in water and cover with lid for 1 minute for stalks to steam through. Add sesame oil, chili flakes if using, salt and pepper. Toss with a spatula or a flick of the wrist. Take water spinach off stove, serve hot with your other mains and sides.
Recipe courtesy of appetiteforchina.com.