New to the boxes, shop and salad mixes this week is komatsuna, a deliciously spicy oriental leaf also known as mustard spinach. It’s actually a variant of the wild turnip, but has a flavour similar to pak choi or Chinese cabbage.
The young, small leaves are tender enough to make them an excellent salad ingredient, providing a stronger, slightly spicy alternative to the lettuce. As they mature, the leaves toughen slightly and darken in colour, and the flavour becomes stronger and hotter.
At this stage they become a superb alternative cooking green. Steamed quickly like spinach, stir fried, or boiled and added to soups and stews, this is a valuable and versatile leafy green vegetable, well suited to growing in our relatively cool temperate climate.
It grows best in the autumn or spring, as it dislikes the heat of midsummer. Not that it would have been too bothered by the summer we’ve just had. There is a red variety of komatsuna which does tolerate the warmer months, allowing it to be grown all year round if desired.
Komatsuna is tasty and nutritious, the leaves being good sources of vitamin C, A, B, E and K, and minerals such as iron, phosphorus, calcium and potassium. We try to provide something a bit different at Church Farm from time to time, as well as the conventional stuff. I do hope that the more unusual vegetables are welcome and appreciated.