GROWING TRENDS. KICKING KALE TO THE CURB.

Dear Kale,

Look, I feel bad saying this, but nobody likes you – we tolerate you.  If your popularity was based on taste and not nutrition you’d rank just above a hair covered Cheeto found on the bottom of a boot.  

~ Love Karen and everyone else in the world.

It’s hard for us not to have been brainwashed by the big, bad kale machine that went tearing through the land a few years ago.  I mean for a while there we really thought we liked kale.  KALE, KALE, KALE!  Eat it and you’ll live forever!  And it makes such great chips!  And it’s a nutritional powerhouse! All of these things were heard from various health journals, blogs, magazines and restaurant kitchens.  But you know what no on ever stood on their front porch and screamed out?  Kale, Kale Kale!  You’re soooooo delicious.

When Blue Apron said they wanted to do another post with me I asked if they’d be into just talking about vegetables.  I wanted their advice on the up and coming new kids on the block.  Vegetables that on trend gardeners should plant this year that are a bit unusual but also taste good and aren’t kale.

They agreed.

I actually eat a kale salad almost every day in the summer, but is it my favourite tasting vegetable?  Clearly no.  Though I do like that salad.  I’ll admit the food loving cool-girl in me originally liked it because it was unique and rare; normally only seen garnishing the outside rim of Pizza Hut salad bars (true story).

But there are alternative, unusual healthy vegetables out there that actually taste really great.

The first of the 5 unique vegetables Blue Apron and I agreed were worthy of trending this year is one that the food company has been using since its inception.

 

This teeny, tiny Fairy Tale eggplant is creamy and flavourful with no bitterness.

 

Look at it!  The other great thing about the fairytale eggplant is there’s no waste.  A large eggplant provides far too much vegetable for one meal for 2 people and a lot of it ends up being wasted. Not so with the fairy sized eggplant.

Fairytale Eggplant:  Buy the seeds here.

How to Grow Fairy Tale eggplant:
  1. Plant Fairytale eggplant seeds directly in the garden once the soil is warm or start indoors 4 weeks before the last frost.  Plant seeds 1/2″ deep.
  2. Cover with floating row cover if flea beetles are a problem in your area and remove the cover when flowers emerge.
  3. Pick the eggplants as soon as they are 3-4″ long. The more you pick the more they grow.

Fairytale Eggplant recipe.

Quinoa Tabbouleh with Fairy tale Eggplants. 

THIS is the one I’m really excited about.  The Honeynut squash is a variety of butternut squash that fits into the palm of your hand.  It’s sweeter than a butternut squash and half of one is the perfect size for a side dish. They’re tiny!

I just got my seeds for this little 6″ squash in the mail today!  I’m a bit squash crazy I’ll admit, but there was no way I was going to let this thing exist in the world and not grow it myself.  That brings my squash variety count up to 7 including Grey Ghost Kabocha, Cha-Cha Kabocha, Delicata, mini pumpkins, Sugar pumpkins, Butternut squash and now … Honeynut squash.

Even I can see for a single woman that 7 varieties of squash might be considered excessive in some of the more conservative leaning squash crowds.  So be it.

Honeynut Squash:  Buy the seeds here.

How to Grow Honeynut Squash:
  1. Plant squash seeds 1″ deep directly in the garden when soil is warm or start indoors 4 weeks before the last frost.
  2. You can use my string method to keep the squash vines up off of the ground which helps eliminate disease, keeps the squash clean, plus it takes up less room in the garden.  You do NOT need to support the actual squash once they’re growing with nylons or underwear or whatever else people suggest. Their stems are plenty strong enough to support them.
  3. Pick the squash after the stem has died back, leaving them in a sunny area to cure for 1-2 weeks.  Make sure to rotate them so all of the skin gets a chance to bask in the sun.  The better you cure your squash the better they’ll keep through the winter.  Also curing helps with flavour.

 

Honeynut Squash recipe

Sumac-spiced Steak & Honeynut Squash

These red turnip look more like beets than a turnip.  The deep red skin colour also runs through the inside of the vegetable.

These are mild and small enough to be used sliced thin in salads or diced and cooked like you’d normally cook a turnip.

Scarlet Queen Turnip:  Buy the seeds here.

How to Grow Scarlet Queen Turnip:
  1. Start seeds indoors or plant outside in spring.
  2. Plant seeds in a clump of 3.  If started in trays indoors, transplant the entire clump of 3 outside once first set of true leaves appear.
  3. Plant clumps 6″ apart and harvest when turnips are 2″-3″ in diameter.

Scarlet Queen turnip recipe

Baked BBQ chicken with creamy potato, green bean and turnip salad.

Red/purple cabbage is common, Napa cabbage is common, but PURPLE NAPPA CABBAGE? Not so much.

Purple Nappa Cabbage is incredibly new to the vegetable world and part of what makes this one of my favourite new vegetable varieties is the fact that the cabbage doesn’t lose it’s colour when it’s cooked.  So you maintain that bright purple/red colour even after steaming, sautéing or baking it.

Can you imagine the beautiful cabbage rolls these would make?

 

Scarlette F1 cabbage:  The variety is so new seeds aren’t available to the public in North America yet.

How to Grow Napa Cabbage:
  1. Cabbage does best as a direct sow outdoors from the end of May to the middle of June for a fall crop.
  2. Use floating row cover to protect from flea beetles and other pests.  No need to remove cover because the cabbage doesn’t flower.
  3. Harvest based on when the heads feel tight.  You can store cabbage in a cool room for months.

Seeds might not be available yet but farmer’s markets *may* carry the variety this year and of course if you have a Blue Apron subscription, you’ll be getting some in your deliveries this year.

Purple Napa Cabbage Recipe

Tofu Banh Mi

Sungold tomatoes are probably the sweetest cherry tomatoes you’ll find.  I grew them in my community gardens and my front yard vegetable garden last year and barely got any myself due to their popularity with squirrels, mice, raccoons and my thieving neighbours. I’ve told them all they can have anything that grows on the outside of my fence in the front yard so really it’s my fault.  But still.  THIEVES.

You might think it’s too late to buy seeds and plant these Sungold tomatoes but they’re among the fastest maturing tomato plants around going from seed to maturity in just 57 days.  Around a month faster than most tomato plants.

Sungold Tomatoes (F1):  Buy the seeds here.

How to Grow Sungold tomatoes:
  1. Plant tomato seeds 4-6 weeks prior to the last frost indoors.
  2. Once risk of frost has passed, transplant outside with a teaspoon of crushed eggshell at the bottom of the hole.
  3. Use my string method to keep tomatoes healthy and save space.

Sungold tomato recipe

Heirloom Tomato Salad with lemon ricotta


Thanks to Blue Apron for sponsoring this post and sharing their information on the vegetables they think deserve their day in the sunshine.

If you’d like to get these and a TON of other really special ingredients delivered right to your door along with the recipes so you can save time but still create chef quality meals (for real) Blue Apron is offering the first 50 Art of Doing Stuff subscribers their first 3 meals for free.  p.s. don’t worry, the food is delivered in refrigerated boxes.  p.s. don’t worry you don’t have to sign up for a year long commitment, you just get the meals you want and opt out if you don’t want them that week. Or that month. Or that summer!

READ MORE ABOUT BLUE APRON’S PROGRAM AND SIGN UP FOR YOUR DISCOUNTED SUBSCRIPTION HERE.

This is my 4th post partnering with Blue Apron and I keep doing it because of their philosophy, great food, great recipes and their commitment to fresh ingredients grown by local farmers.  Blue Apron has partnered with 150 farmers in the United States to date working together to grow food, regenerate land, and reduce food waste.

48 Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    Karen is great! Karen is wonderful! Karen is lovely!

    Karen is welcome to come and grow share her vegetables on my nice 250 acre farm in Florida.

    The veggies look delectable. Ok. It was a nice idea.

  2. Brenda says:

    Miniature Veggies – BRILLIANT !!! … and late planters, too. if it ever stops raining. I am thinking I need to google plants that thrive on rain and the cold … but only after I get the ingredients to make that home made ricotta though – woah THAT looks good.

  3. Tina says:

    I love cucumbers and, because I’m single, the tiny cukes are perfect for me. Interestingly I thought mini carrots would be, as well but nope, I’d rather have big carrots and cut them small. But now I can also have eggplant tiny! And tiny squash! I’m beginning to feel like a giant in my tiny kitchen!

  4. Laura says:

    Does anyone else have a seed ordering addiction? Every single time I see something new that grabs my attention I have to scour the web to find the seeds. Like why does one woman with a smallish garden need 40 different type of tomato seeds (no seriously, if someone has a reason that would be great so I can have an answer prepared for the next time my husband asks).

    I have seeds I ordered this year that I didn’t even plant because I ran out of room long ago. Yet despite this fact I continue to order seeds. What the hell is wrong with me.

    Now off to find some honeynut squash seeds!

    • Susan Claire says:

      I planted my garden two months ago, filled up all the spaces, and yet two days ago I ordered six tomato plants because I read about these new varieties that I JUST HAD TO HAVE! No idea where I’m going to plant them, but I truly understand why you do what you do. Sorry I have no explanation for your husband, my SO just rolls his eyes and lets me get on with it.

    • Karen says:

      It’s an affliction. :/ ~ karen!

    • Jenifer says:

      You can point out to your husband that 40 diff types of tomato seeds is MUCH more desirable than, say, 40 pairs of cowboy boots….unless you have 40 pairs of cowboy boots in which case this will not help you. Also you are preserving our tomato heritage. So actually you could argue that not only are you looking out for his health, you are also a historical librarian….of tomato seeds. 🙂

    • Nicole says:

      You’re preparing for a zombie apocalypse. Bam

  5. Melissa Stinson says:

    Yummo! They are all sooooo pretty too!
    So glad I’m not the only non-kale lover! I never got on the band wagon, I just couldn’t. Didn’t ever get on the Brussels sprouts wagon either…nope, not gonna do it.
    So thank you for some pretty and tasty veggie ideas!

  6. Ann says:

    WOW-I think I love kale better than all the veggies listed. Even tomatoes. No way an eggplant will ever touch my lips again. Gave the stuff many tries and sorry, not for me. Also don’t like turnips in any way.

    This my first year of not really growing anything new or experimental. I better get a jump on that for next year. I guess nothing tempted me enough in those 4,000 seed catalogs that have arrived since the first of the year

    • Monica says:

      I like kale also… I feel personally attacked, probably. The turnips can stay in the dirt for the voles as far as I’m concerned. And I agree, the eggplant family has burned me once time too many.

      Karen, what do you know about jicama? Can it be done in a short growing season?

    • Alena says:

      Ann, I don’t mind kale either but I stick to black kale. It tastes better and I eat it raw in salads (not on its own though, I mix it with romaine lettuce and spinach). I also add it to stews. I think I just used up the last batch that was in the freezer.

  7. ronda says:

    yeah. kale. not on the bandwagon either! tried a kale/something hybrid, and, loaded with butter and garlic, it was OK. but just OK. and yes, you can put them with brussel sprouts in the “meh” category lol!

  8. Phyllis Price says:

    Karen:

    Is the link working for honeynut squash? All I could get was an Amazon page saying:

    Looking for Something?
    We’re sorry. The Web address you’ve entered is not a functioning page on our site. Click here to visit the Amazon.ca home page

    Looking forward to trying these squash out!

    Thanks.

    Phyllis

    * Click here to visit the Amazon.ca home page

  9. danni says:

    You read my mind about the kale, but I blanch and freeze in fist size servings, sneak them into soup, meatloaf, chili, stuff like that. Not a favorite but man oh man! a well formed dino kale stops visitors in their tracks! I’ve grown one that was the size of a Volkswagen!
    (ok, maybe not a Volkswagen, but a mini cooper….)

  10. Brian says:

    How do you know when the last frost will be, so you can start the plants 4 weeks before that? Just asking, I’m not a planter or a grower. If it needs regular watering, it usually dies from loss of hope. My thumbs about as purple as that eggplant.

    • Karen says:

      You just Google your area online Brian. Farmer’s Almanac has a list of everyone’s first frost free date. ~ karen!

      • Brian says:

        Aww, come on now, That’s way too sensible. I was thinking the Chickens would start feeding in a counter clockwise rotation, or the moon’s aura would glow pink! Something funky! That’s just a let down. Brian

  11. Mary W says:

    Like Kale. Love turnips. Adore eggplant and its flowers. LOVE & ADORE Blue Apron. I told my daughter (I live with her family) about BA when you posted before with recipes and results. She said she didn’t think it was cost effective and enough for our family. Then she tried it. We have been so happy ever since. She has cut her grocery shopping time way down. She doesn’t stress over what to cook each night after a 16 hour a day – 6 days a week job. We really like the food they ship – all fresh and really tasty. We don’t have leftovers to throw away. Thank you so much for your recommendation since it has really enhanced out family table. My granddaughter has even started cooking with the easy to prepare instructions and quickness. It is totally worth what we thought was a pricey, no big deal new fad = TOTALLY worth it. I do eat at least 2 huge eggplants when peeled, sliced, and baked on high until way done. I layer them with cheese and bottled sauce and make a yummy lasagna, eat the slices just as they are like french fries – crispy outside and soft and sweet inside. One person, two at a time but make sure to use the ones with a tiny round blossom end since it has way less bitter seeds.

  12. Sandra Blackwell says:

    Can squash be grown in a container? I don’t have a garden space set up yet, but could do run squash around the railing of my deck.

  13. Tarra says:

    Thank you Karen! Bout time kale was exposed for what it is – a sturdier and longer lasting bagged green supplanting our spinach supply, its popularity benefitting producers & distributors more than consumers. I look forward to bagged spinach becoming readily available again and to the rightful demise of unchewable summer ‘salads’ of bitter yellowish coarse rags. Kale is a great cold weather vegetable much improved by a bit of frost and which should be cooked, preferably with potatoes or beans. I do grow it, mostly for the deer.

  14. Jen says:

    I would recommend another tomato if you haven’t tried it. Sunrise Bumblebee! Cute grape tomato with a cute name. AND SO DELICIOUS. Seriously, the best grape tomato I’ve ever had. I’ve been growing them from the same seed packet for three years so you can tell there’s good germination too.

    http://www.rareseeds.com/sunrise-bumblebee-tomato/

  15. Polly says:

    Sungold tomatoes!!!!!! I discovered these 6 or 7 years ago and became addicted immediately.

    I’ve grown them in the garden and in containers. I love growing them in big (big) pots, two plants to a pot, with hot peppers and marigolds around the base.

    Sadly, I live now in an apartment with absolutely no place to plant anything (long story; mitigating factors exist).

    Everybody with a yard or deck: plant Sungolds. Now.

    • Renee Ryz says:

      My daughter turned me on to Sungolds a few years ago. THEY ROCK. Most of them never even make it into the house. Nothing like popping a warm from the sun sweet as candy mater in your jibs on a beautiful day! I have tried another one, that was more yellow- can’t recall the name – sweet, but not a Sungold.

  16. Jenifer says:

    Flea beetles?? Ohmigod, please tell me this was a joke! 😛

  17. Elaine says:

    Thank you, Karen, for your honesty about Kale! 🙂 I never liked it and I just KNOW many friends of mine hated it too but didn’t want to let on as they were wanting to look cool and trendy!

  18. Patt says:

    UGH! I hate kale…won’t eat it either…not even if it’s free. That “kale” salad in a bag is mostly brussel sprouts and what wouldn’t taste good smothered in poppyseed dressing, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds! You can dress up that pig’s ear, but it’s still a pig’s ear! Now….that new squash? I am gonna LOOOOVE that!

  19. Shelagh says:

    We had 4 or 5 snow flurries during the day yesterday, I woke up to snow on the trees, patio stones etc, it had melted by 11am and now it’s snowing again and accumulating on the patio chairs and my poor daffodils!
    Such fun ( read dripping with sarcasm)!!!!
    And I live just west of Ottawa, Canada…..it’s not really that far north.

  20. Jan Hekhuis says:

    So, are mini veggies the next (kale) craze? Looks like it.
    All of the above are indeed delish, but I truly like kale. Sauteed with olive oil in my frying pan and some Mrs Dash table blend and salt. Like it, eat it every week.

  21. JulieD says:

    mmm yummy! Great inspiration, Karen!

  22. Melissa says:

    Curing squash? Clearly, it’s a thing, and now I know about it.

    And those little squash… Cripes, those are cute, and you make me want to grow them.

  23. Grammy says:

    I’ll chime in on the “I like kale” chorus. I admit I’ve never tried a kale chip (why would anyone ever want a substitute for potato chips?) and somewhere I read that before you use kale in a salad you need to “massage” each and every leaf to make it palatable to use raw. Screw massaging my food when I just want to eat lunch and get back to whatever I was doing before I got hungry, and I’ll guarantee it was NOT massaging kale. But I love cooked kale, especially in potato soup and as a side dish sautéed in a little olive oil and seasoned with a dash of salt. I add it to most vegetable soups, too, when I have it.

    All the new veggies you show look great, so I’d try some of them in addition to continue with growing kale. I’m intrigued with those little eggplants — seems like they are just made for some quick and tasty baba ganoush.

  24. Miriam says:

    Really love this post.
    I don’t grow vegetables (except rhubarb which basically grows itself) but I enjoyed looking at the pics and recipes.
    Wish Blue Apron was available in Ireland!

  25. Margy says:

    Hi Karen
    The first time I had Kale was in England at Jamie Oliver’s Restaurant
    It was so good with flavour and a bit crispy
    I had won a contest to cook with him
    Now that is someone that loves his veg

  26. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Honey nut squash sounds delicious without even trying it…and those pretty little fairy tale eggplants are just the size I need for myself…I gotta try those sweet little sun gold tomatoes…yum…thanks Karen!

  27. Amy Watson says:

    Karen I love you…..you have the balls to go where no other blogger goes, I literally laughed out loud about the pizza hut salad bar garnish ,for many years I was a high end caterer, this was looooong before anyone ATE kale, we used to order it by the cases, it was beautiful lined our beautiful silver trays!!!! Now for real nappa cabbage is one of my very favorite veggies and I always have it on hand I like to chop it small with green onions shredded carrots, with a nice Asian vinergrett and some toasted sliced almonds on top, I eat one almost every night and it stays fresh after you chop it for a long time….

  28. Joy says:

    One word for you, Karen: Sunsugar. Yellow cherry tomato with same luscious flavor and huge productivity as Sungold, BUT much less likely to crack after rain or, seemingly, heavy dew. Excellent cherry tomato!

    • Karen says:

      That would be great, I hate the cracking! Juliette tomatoes are also really good for not cracking but they are just a regular tomato, not a sweet, cherry type. ~ karen!

    • Renee Ryz says:

      that is the one I was thinking about – I had that last year yellow, very sweet

  29. Tracy N Egan says:

    Hah! I worked at Pizza Hut when I was a teenager. One of my jobs was restocking the salad bar and telling the (clearly foreign) customers to not eat the kale, as it was for garnish only!!

  30. Melissa says:

    I’m sorry, but sungold tomatoes are not new or trendy, I’ve been growing them for years! Everyone (at least, here in California) knows they are the best cherry tomato!
    Maybe you just got them in Canada?
    But I LOVE the idea of those tiny squash! That’s the problem I have with squash- I like them, but just my solo can’t eat a damn 5 pound butternut, and forget about those monster 20+ pounders of all those fun heirlooms.

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