×

Carrots and bok choy

Asian Bok Choy and Carrot Stir-Fry (Provided photo — Yvona Fast)

It’s June. At the farmers market, crisp white stalks topped by loose, dark green leaves call out to me: Tender baby bok choi or pac choy. There are many alternate spellings.

There are also bright orange carrots. At the first market in May, I bought last years’ carrots from a farmer, but now, tender young carrots topped with fresh greens abound.

Both are great in spring salads and make great sides.

Carrots are one of our most popular vegetables — and have a long history. Originating in Asia, they were brought west by Arab traders and were popular in Greece and Rome. From there, they made their way to the rest of Europe and came to America with the colonists.

Bok choy and pac choi have been cultivated in China since the 5th century AD and came to the U.S. a century ago. They popularity grew because Asian varieties are sweeter and more delicate and more digestible than European varieties. They cook quickly, without the unpleasant odor cabbage emits while boiling.

Baby bok choy is more tender and has a subtle flavor, so it’s great raw in salads. It should be harvested when very young (about a month after planting, just 6-8 inches tall). When fully mature, the plants grow about 18 inches in height.

Carrots are also nutritious; they’re one of the best sources of vitamin A. Your mother probably told you to eat carrots to see in the dark. Just one serving has 270% of your daily requirement! This antioxidant is important for vision, skin, and general good health. Carrots also provide lots of dietary fiber, and vitamins C, B, D and E; the minerals calcium, potassium, magnesium, and silicon which strengthens the connective tissues and aids in calcium metabolism.

Like other cruciferous vegetables, choys contain slforaphane, which stimulates cancer-protecting enzymes. They are great non-dairy sources of bone-building calcium and are rich in the antioxidant vitamins A, C, E and folic acid.

The dark-green leaves are a good source of antioxidants and minerals, and taste good in raw and cooked dishes. Use them in frittatas, omelets, quiche and other egg dishes. You can mix chopped, steamed Bok Choy greens with pasta or rice, and season with garlic, olive oil or butter, and lemon juice. Steam the leaves and use them in place of cabbage to wrap grain, vegetables, or meat as you would stuffed cabbage.

Both stems and leaves add flavor and crunch to Asian dishes like stir-fries and fried rice. Cut in strips and combine with meat or tofu and other vegetables, season with garlic and ginger, and saute in a wok or skillet only until crisp-tender for a quick Asian-style supper. It cooks quickly, so it’s one of the last ingredients to add to a stir-fry dish. When stir-fried for 3-4 minutes, the leaves become tender but remain bright green and the white stem retains its crispness. Like most leafy greens, it reduces in volume as it cooks.

Carrots are great raw, either sliced or shredded into salads. You can cook them by steaming, boiling, microwaving, sauteing, stir-frying, roasting, baking or grilling. They are essential for soups and salads and an excellent addition to many dishes. I like them as a side dish, seasoned with a little salt, a tad of butter and a tablespoon of orange juice. Parsley, dill, coriander, chervil and tarragon are excellent herbs to use with carrots.

Asian Bok Choy and Carrot Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon oil

1/2 pound boneless chicken breast or thighs

2 carrots (about 1 cup, sliced)

Few scallions or one onion (about 1 cup, sliced)

1 cup sliced portobello mushrooms

1/2 bunch bok choy or about 2-3 cups — 1 cup dark greens and 1 cup white stems

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced (about 1 teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root

1-2 Tablespoons soy sauce

Directions:

Heat oil in wok or large skillet. Cook chicken, turning once, until done and opaque. Remove and set aside. (Option: Marinade chicken in soy sauce and wine for several hours before cooking).

Wash and slice the carrot, and add to the skillet the chicken cooked in.

Remove root ends and wilted greens from scallions; rinse, drain, and chop. Add mushrooms, garlic and ginger. Cook about five minutes. Wash the bok choy, slice and add. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender. Season to taste with soy sauce. Chop the chicken and return to skillet with the greens; cook until heated through, 1-2 minutes. Serve over couscous, rice or another grain.

Serves 2 or 3.

Dilly Carrot and Bok Choy Salad

Ingredients:

3 or 4 carrots (about 1 cup, chopped)

1 bunch bok choy (about 3 to 4 cups, sliced)

2 dill pickles (about 1 cup, chopped)

1 sweet onion or scallions (about 1 cup, chopped)

2 cloves garlic (from pickles)

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons pickle juice

1/4 cup dill weed (fresh is best)

1 or 2 Tablespoons plain Greek yogurt or sour cream

2 Tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

Chop carrots, bok choy and pickles fine. Slice scallions. Mince garlic. Combine vegetables in salad bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil and pickle juice; stir to coat. Stir in dill weed, Greek yogurt and feta.

Makes one large bowl — serves 6 to 8.

Bok Choy and Carrot Slaw

Ingredients:

1 bunch Bok Choy

1 carrot (about 1 cup shredded)

1 cucumber, peeled and diced

1 cup corn kernels

1 or 2 scallions, green and white part, or small sweet onion

1 cup mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Directions:

Wash bok choy. Cut crosswise into thin strips. Place in salad bowl. Wash and shred or chop the carrot, and add. Peel and dice the cucumber, and add. Add corn kernels and sliced scallion or sweet onion.

In small bowl, combine mayonnaise, soy sauce and vinegar. Fold into vegetables in salad bowl. Serve. Garnish with sunflower seeds or chopped peanuts, if desired.

— — —

Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: Writing and cooking. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at yvonawrite@yahoo.com or on X: @yvonawrites.

NEWSLETTER

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today