Valley Bounty: Bok Choy

This time of year can be a bit tricky when it comes to shopping for local vegetables. Farmers’ markets and farm stands are open for the season, but they don’t quite yet have the full, colorful, diverse displays you’ll find towards the end of the summer. Fortunately for us, a few early-season stalwarts can help bridge the gap between storage crops and harvest time; asparagus, salad greens, and Swiss chard are reliable early risers, as is the easygoing and accommodating bok choy. Often a staple of stir-fries, bok choy is well suited to the quick, high-heating cooking of the wok or the frying pan: when properly sautéed, the white base stays firm while the greens on top wilt to a velvety texture (this is especially true of smaller “baby” bok choy). I find that bok choy’s mild and slightly sweet flavor pairs well with salt and spice. Simply sautéing it in butter with a dash of soy sauce and some red pepper flakes makes one of my favorite side dishes for beef or pork. You can also try adding it to soups at the end of cooking to add both green and crunch.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)