Tag Archives: Bok Choy

Hope for the Seedlings + Sixburnersue’s Best Cabbage Recipes for St. Patrick’s Day

seedling pic 2Yesterday I was hiding out in the hoop house, pretending that I didn’t have a long list of things to do before getting on a plane tomorrow. It was warm and bright and still inside, the air spritzed with the fine smell of damp potting soil. I could have stayed there for hours, futzing over the hundreds of little baby bok choy seedlings that have popped up in the last week.

We planted the bok choy seeds with the grand scheme of getting an early crop into our south-facing bed along the outside of the hoop house. Roy has been prepping the bed and installing hoops and a plastic cover to warm the soil up for planting. Bok choy can go into 50° soil and by using transplants, you can have a harvest in about a month after transplanting.

seedling blog 3

Even though we have the hoop house now, it isn’t heated, so the nighttime temperatures are still pretty chilly in there. (The greens in the raised beds have covers over them.) So we had to germinate the bok choy seeds inside. First, I mixed up the seed starting soil (with water) and spread it in 72-hole flats in the hoop house. Then I carried the flats inside, planted the little tiny seeds, covered the flats with plastic tops, carried them upstairs, and arranged them over the floor of Libby’s bedroom. Then I shut the door to keep the room cool and to keep Barney out.

So you can see, we still do not have a very sophisticated system of seed starting. And, by the way, though Libby’s room was the perfect temperature, and the seeds germinated very evenly, Barney did get in there more than once and pounced on the plastic tops. I think he got in because Farmer nosed the bedroom door open, thinking Libby might be in there.

Still, we’ll call that part successful. However, we’ve then had to carry the flats down to the hoop house every morning—and then back every night. The seedlings grow straight and sturdy in the gauzy overhead sunlight of the hoop house, so you want them there during the day. (Without adequate direct light, seedlings grow leggy and sideways, as most of you probably know. ) And very soon we’ll be able to just pop the plastic tops back on at night and leave them in there. But right now, because of this ridiculous weather (50° yesterday, 25° and snowing today) the flats have to go back inside the house at night. Argh!!

bok choy Collage

Anyway, this is certainly not a big problem to be complaining about, and I’m only really recounting this as my way of saying I am oh-so-very-excited about spring coming. (And for making delicious things with bok choy, of course!). When I get back from Chicago, I will plant more flats—of lettuce, spinach, kale, and chard. (That is—IF I get back! I’m supposed to get out of downtown Chicago and to the airport on Monday, and isn’t that St. Patrick’s Day? And isn’t there, like, a fairly large parade in Chicago?! Oh well.)

cabbage recipe collage

Since I won’t be actually here on the Irish holiday, I thought I’d better share my favorite cabbage recipes from Sixburnersue with you today. I’ve never been one for boiled cabbage, so for a simple preparation, I go with something like this Quick-Sautéed Cabbage recipe. For something fancy, there’s always the Savoy Cabbage, Apple, Onion & Gruyere Rustic Tart. But probably my favorite holiday cabbage side dish (with the same flavor profile as the tart, just with potatoes added) is this St. Patrick’s Day Cabbage, Onion Apple & Gruyere Gratin.

I may not get to eat one of these dishes on St. Patrick’s Day this year, but I do have some cabbage to look forward to—I planted some cabbage seeds directly into one of the hoop house beds last fall, and I now have a few tiny cabbage plants starting to form heads. With any luck, I’ll have cabbage on say, May Day! And baby bok choy even sooner. Can’t wait.

cabbage pic collage 1

Pretty in Purple—Pak Choi for the Plate and Palate

It’s only May 1 and already we may have grown the prettiest vegetable we’ll see all season. (You can remind me I’ve said this when I start waxing on about peas and cherry tomatoes and Fairy Tale eggplants.) But honestly, this little purple pac choi (aka bok choy) is simply stunning. We can’t keep it at the farm stand for a minute, and I’m hoping I’ll get another round transplanted before it gets too hot. If you’re interested in growing this ethereal veggie (sweet, crunchy, tangy and light), you can still order seeds from Fedco and plant it in the fall.

Me, I think I’d better start eating more of the stuff. The purple color is the result of anthocyanins, which supposedly improve memory. I could use that, since I  completely forgot to make time for the blog post this week (a lot of farm work going on around here!) and now I am off to Maine to teach two classes at the fabulous Stonewall Kitchen this weekend. Wish you could all be there to join me!

Small Wonder: Spring on Green Island Farm

I was heading out to the farm stand with this bowl of radishes the other day when a friend intercepted me and bought one bunch straight out of the dish. After that, I rushed in to get the camera before the next bunch disappeared (which it did, very shortly thereafter.) I don’t blame these folks for snatching up the radishes—honestly, is there a cheerier harbinger of spring? Well, I guess you could name quite a few things (flowering trees, singing birds, green grass), but in the vegetable world, radishes are as cheery as it gets. And thanks to the hoop house, I’ve got radishes in April—yippee!

I am celebrating the small stuff all around the farm today as it happens to be warm and sunny, and I was beginning to think “warm and sunny” was some mirage I’d never quite reach. (I should say it is “warmish” here—high 50s.) On Monday it blew so hard that the latch on the gate to the big chicken pen popped open (which it hasn’t done in previous storms) and all of the 200 chickens in it went for a walkabout—over to the neighbor’s woods, through a pine grove, around the future pig pen, and just generally anywhere they could disappear. It took us the better part of the day to get them all back in. Argh. Not to be snide, but I have to say that one of the things I am celebrating today is no wind—and chickens happily back in their pen.

Also, this morning I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Finding Your Soul, and in his post today, “Everything We Need Is Right Here,” David Anderson talks about all the wonder that’s right in front of our eyes while we’re off seeking something better somewhere else. So I thought to take the camera and snap a few other things I’m marveling at now that spring is actually coming to Green Island Farm.

Chartreuse maple flowers unfurling on bare branches against a Carolina blue sky.


Big fat healthy tomato plants in the greenhouse. We started our “early” tomatoes in February and have managed to bring them along nicely, letting them hang out in the hoop house by day and stay snug inside the house at night.


Copious amounts of bok choy to sell at the farm stand. We grew the first batch in the hoop house. Batches 2 and 3 (including the pretty purple stuff) are coming along in a long raised bed outside the hoop house (where the early tomatoes will be transplanted in a few weeks.) Get some of this delicious veggie into your kitchen soon–here’s one recipe idea (a stir-fry; my friend Joannie says this is the best!) and here’s another (my friend Eliza’s favorite–Spicy Noodle Hot Pot!).



The pea plants germinated beautifully and are ready to come out from under cover, where they’ve been hiding from the birds.


Basil seedlings are healthy and we have hundreds of them!


Beautiful Pirat Butterhead lettuce is “too pretty to cut” my friend Mary says. Alas, I’ve already tucked into it and pulled heads for the farm stand.


Last year’s everbearing strawberry plants already have blossoms.


And yes, the grass is green. I know, I know but this is a big deal to me. We’ve been looking at mud for months. This is the pine grove at one end of our back field, where Farmer and I go for walks.

And when it comes to being excited about springtime and fresh grass, no one’s happier than Farmer. We’ll be walking along and all of a sudden he just gets down and does a roly-poly in the grass. He stands back up, shakes, and then skips off, happy as can be. We should all be so carefree. Maybe if your day isn’t going so well, you could try rolling in the warm grass!





New Greens to Grow and One Fabulous Bok Choy Recipe from The Fresh & Green Table

Spicy Noodle Hot Pot with Bok Choy 1Promises, promises. A few weeks ago, I said I would give you a peek at some of the recipes in The Fresh & Green Table (coming in June—preorder now!). Last week I said I’d let you know what new greens we’re growing this year. Time for me to keep my promises, don’t you think? Especially since the green factor is blowing me away right now. The seedlings we started three weeks ago are so fresh looking that it’s hard not to think about eating them right out of the flats! (The new light system has worked beautifully.) But some of those little guys—like the Rainbow Lacinato Kale and the Bright Lights Swiss chard—hold the uh, promise, of growing all summer and fall, with many many harvests along the way, so it wouldn’t be too smart to cut their little lives short just now.

In honor of all these greens—especially the dozens of little baby bok choys we’ve started—I thought I’d include a delicious and easy recipe from the soup chapter of The Fresh & Green Table that features bok choy. (Recipe at end of blog.) I call it “Spicy Noodle Hot Pot with Bok Choy, Shiitakes, Ginger, Lime & Peanuts,” but it’s really just a quick and tasty noodle soup that you could make tonight (with regular or baby bok choy). (I’m sorry I don’t have access right now to the beautiful picture of this dish that appears in the book.) As it happens, this week three more recipes from The Fresh & Green Table were posted on the Internet, thanks to an article in the Spring issue of Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, Home and Garden (by yours truly). The three over there are for main-dish salads—most appropriate for grilling season. But one of them happens to feature asparagus and another Asian green, Napa cabbage, and would be perfect to make right now if you live in an area of the country that is already seeing local asparagus.

On the subject of Asian greens, here are three new ones we are trying in the market garden this year, in addition to tat soi, mizuna, and bok choy. (Most of our greens seeds come from High Mowing Seeds and Fedco.)

Komatsuna: This winter, I read about this intriguing Japanese green (also called spinach mustard) in The Seasons on Henry’s Farm. Then I began seeing references to it in all kinds of places so decided I’d love to give it a try. Supposedly the leaves are glossy and do not really wilt when cooked. A turnip relative, the greens are best picked young and tender to be at their sweetest.

Te Yu Flowering Broccoli: Years ago, Chinese broccoli was on my radar when I lived in New York. But I never grew it. I’m excited to give it a try this spring before the hot weather comes. It is fairly stemmy with little florets, but should be very tasty.

Mibuna: This delicate and very early green is quite similar to Mizuna except that the tips of the leaves are rounded rather than serrated. I’ll plan to use this in salads as soon as I can.

I also got all excited about the new frilly varieties of mustard I saw last year, so I wound up starting seeds for three of those—Ruby Streaks, Golden Frill, and Pink Lettucy. I know, I know, what was I thinking? One would have been enough.

In the lettuce department, here are three new ones I’m excited about:

Pirat Butterhead: A beautiful heading lettuce with pale green inner leaves, lime green outer leaves, and red tips. Sometimes called Pirate lettuce (I don’t know why, matey), this German heirloom is supposed to be very flavorful, so I can’t wait to try it.


Revolution: I’m hoping this red frilly Lollo-Rosso style lettuce will grow a bit more vigorously than others I’ve tried in the past. It should be a stunning addition to our farm stand mix.

Kinemontpas Butterhead: This French heirloom supposedly grows into giant deep-green buttery heads if you can resist picking it before then. Yes, I have a knack for choosing the hard-to-pronounce varieties.

Antares Oakleaf: The Fedco catalogue calls this, “A shimmery pink and bronze oakleaf growing vigorously to magnificent size. The extra-frilled finely cut bright leaves are colorful and tender, not bitter even in early July.”  Another one to look forward to!


I hate to tell you how many more greens we are growing other than those I’ve mentioned here. Despite doubling the size of the market garden, we are still going to be tight on space. Hmmm… maybe it would help if I promised not to take up too many beds with the greens. Promises, promises. We’ll see!

(Enjoy the soup recipe and don’t forget to pre-order The Fresh & Green Table. Your independent bookstore can order it from IndieBound so please patronize them if you can.)


Spicy Noodle Hot Pot with Bok Choy, Shiitakes, Ginger, Lime & Peanuts

For such a quick soup, this one is darn satisfying. Thanks to the bold flavors of ginger, lime, soy sauce, and cilantro—and the intriguing flavor of one of my favorite greens (bok choy)—the soup packs a punch without much fuss. I do take one extra little step of sautéing the shiitakes separately in a nonstick pan; otherwise they can stick before browning or cooking through. I also take a clue from Asian cooks and boil the soup noodles separately. (They can soak up a lot of liquid if added raw to the soup. This works out nicely, as it means you can distribute the noodles evenly among four soup bowls and then add the tasty broth, the greens, and the fun condiments. Heads of bok choy vary tremendously. You can use any size; just cut off a bit of the bottom, quarter lengthwise, and slice crosswise. Use plenty of the leafy tops, where there is lots of flavor. If you can’t find fresh Chinese egg noodles (in the produce section of the grocery), substitute with another fresh egg pasta (such as Italian linguine or fettucine).


kosher salt

6 oz. fresh Chinese egg noodles, torn into slightly shorter pieces

1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tsp. packed brown sugar

2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. peanut or vegetable oil

3 1/2 oz. (1 package) shiitakes, stemmed and thinly sliced

2/3 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 3 oz. or 3 small shallots)

1 lb. bok choy (use both leaves and stalks), cored, quartered lengthwise, washed thoroughly, and sliced crosswise

1 Tbs. chopped fresh ginger

1 Tbs. chopped fresh garlic

1/2 tsp. Asian chili-garlic sauce (more to taste)

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

3 to 4 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

3 to 4 Tbsp. chopped roasted peanuts

2 Tbsp. finely sliced scallions


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the egg noodles and cook until tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse briefly, and let dry a bit. Transfer to a bowl and toss with a big pinch of salt and the sesame oil.

In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, lime juice, and brown sugar. Set aside.

In a medium (10-inch) nonstick skillet, heat 2 tsp. of the oil over medium-low heat. Add the shiitakes and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until tender and just starting to brown, about 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve.

In a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven or other soup pot, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring, just until the shallots are softened and many are browning, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the bok choy and 1/2 tsp. salt, and stir until all the leaves are wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and chili-garlic sauce and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cooked shiitakes, the chicken broth, and two cups of water to the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in the soy-lime mixture and 2 Tbsp. of the cilantro.

Distribute the noodles evenly among 4 deep soup bowls. Use tongs to arrange most of the greens over the noodles in each bowl, and then ladle the remaining broth and soup contents into each bowl, distributing evenly.Garnish each bowl of soup with more cilantro, the scallions, and the peanuts. Serve right away with both a fork and spoon.

Serves 4

For the Farm Stand, A Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy Recipe

Guess I can safely say that our “soft” opening of the farm stand this weekend was more successful than the Spider Man Broadway previews. You might even cast it more in the vein of Field of Dreams, because, it seems, if you build a farm stand, they will come. At least if you put a big blackboard sign out by the side of the road, and that road happens to be one of the main routes Up-Island. And also, it doesn’t hurt if it’s a holiday weekend. And the sun is shining.

Yikes. Most people would be overjoyed at selling out on the first weekend. But I felt bad that we had run out of salad greens by Saturday afternoon. I just couldn’t harvest any more from my baby plants without endangering a steady  harvest in the weeks to come. So we took the sign off the road, and just left the tomato plants and seedlings out for anyone who happened to notice while driving by. Even without the sign, people spotted the farm stand and turned down the driveway.

So now I am of course ruminating on how we can expand the garden right away. This summer, not next summer. (Roy is rolling his eyes…but smiling, too.) It seems we have lucked into a great location. (Actually, it wasn’t luck. It was a gift from our dear friend Joannie Jenkinson, who actually spent part of her childhood in this house and introduced us to the owners. She got it in her head that we should live here, and I have to say she was on to something. Joannie, who is the animal control officer for West Tisbury and is out and about a lot, was, appropriately, our first customer Friday morning.)

I think I may also have to learn vegetable-growing magic tricks to hurry some things along. Take my baby bok choy. I am crossing my fingers that it might be ready for the farm stand this coming weekend. (Judging by the photo at left you can see that this is probably wishful thinking.) So while I wait, I figured I’d work up a baby bok choy recipe to give away at the farm stand. (I’m hoping to have different appropriate recipes available every week. This week I put out the “pink and green” arugula and radish salad here.)

Fortunately, there is a wonderful farmer on the Island, Krishana Collins of Bluebird Farm, who specializes in baby bok choy. So if you live on the Vineyard, you will have much better luck finding hers (at Down Island Cronig’s before the farmers’ market opens in a few weeks) than mine (which is a tiny planting any way!). Her baby bok choy (top photo, in the scale) is gorgeous and delicious.  Yesterday, I picked up a half-dozen little heads (about 6 inches long and less than 2 inches wide) and stir-fried some for lunch. I did a variation on a recipe from Fast, Fresh & Green, and it couldn’t be simpler or more delicious. The complex nutty flavor of baby bok choy really deepens with browning (no surprise there) and pairs well with Asian seasonings. (I also like to brown-braise baby bok-choy, but I am still working on the perfect way to use it in a gratin. It’s also lovely raw in salads and slivered into noodle soups.) Unfortunately, when stir-fried, baby bok choy loses its beauty-queen looks and becomes more like the charming bad boy–appealing in a rustic kind of way, but definitely delicious.

Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy

For a printable recipe, click here.

Try to choose baby bok choy that are all about the same size for this recipe. Depending on how little they are, you’ll need between four and six to get 3/4 pound.


4 to 6 baby bok choy (6 to 7 inches long, 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide), 12 ounces total

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons peanut oil

2 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced crosswise

kosher salt

1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)


Cut the bok choy lengthwise into quarters if very small (2 ounces), and into six pieces if larger (3 ounces). (There’s no need to trim any of the stems.) Wash them well by swishing them in a bowl of tepid water, and spin them dry.

Set a serving dish on your counter. I like a white oval for this.

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, orange juice, brown sugar, sesame oil, chili-garlic sauce and whisk well. Add the cornstarch and whisk until dissolved.

In a large (12-inch) nonstick stir-fry pan, heat the peanut oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot (it will loosen up), add the garlic slices and the bok choy. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and turn the heat to high. Using tongs, toss the bok choy with the oil to coat and to distribute the garlic slices.

Cook, flipping the bok choy with tongs and spreading it out occasionally so that all the stems have some contact with the pan as they cook, and so that the garlic does not all gather on the bottom of the pan, until all of the bok choy stems are browned in parts (the leaves will be well-wilted and browned), 5 to 7 minutes. (If your stove runs very hot or the garlic is burning after the first few minutes, turn the heat down to medium-high.) Take the pan off the heat, pour the sauce into the pan, and stir immediately as it thickens up. Toss well and quickly transfer the vegetables, sauce and garlic to the serving platter. (The garlic will be very brown—some folks like it, some don’t, so push aside if you like!) Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro if desired.

Serves 2 to 3 as a side dish.

Candidate for Cutest Veg: Baby Bok Choy

This week I’m in major recipe-development and photo-shoot mode, as I’ve got some last-minute assignments from magazines that need spring vegetable recipes. So I have been tiptoeing off to the grocery store, hoping none of my locavore friends see me pouring over the out-of-season vegetables in the produce section. I’m not sure why I feel guilty, as we’ve definitely done our best to make do with our winter CSA veg (and we STILL have some in the fridge and in the attic). We deserve a little fresh green stuff. But I hate the fact that it’s shipped from so far away. It’s one of the most ironic parts of my job—I encourage people to eat and cook seasonally, but often I’m developing recipes out of season.

Well, I guess it’s not so bad this time—spring is right around the corner; I actually saw a forsythia bush in bloom yesterday. (It was wedged between two barns, so I think it must have its own micro-climate, as the rest of Martha’s Vineyard is still chilled by the cold Atlantic waters swirling around us.) But next week I’ve got an assignment to work on some summer recipes, and talk about challenging—ripe, juicy tomatoes in March?

Anyway, when I got home the other day with all these pretty green things—peas and sugar snap peas and fresh mint and frilly lettuce—I got a little giddy. There’s something about the color green that knocks my socks off. And there’s one particular spring green that really tickles me. It’s baby bok choy. These mini-versions of the big honking Asian cabbage barely resemble their big sisters. They’re slender, curvy, and petite—about 6 to 7 inches long—and their color is a soothing mix of celadon and shamrock. Best of all, their fabulous flavor borrows from the nutty side of arugula and the tangy bite of a mellow mustard. (In the photo above, you can see that these baby bok choy were starting to bolt (sprout flowers). The good news is that they still taste good, unlike some bolted greens that become unbearably bitter.)

It won’t surprise you that I take this pretty green thing and brown the heck out of it. I’m like a broken record on that subject—browning green veggies almost always makes them sweeter. So I cut these babies in halves or quarters lengthwise (keeping the hint of that lovely shape—why slice these across and wreck that?), and sear them cut-side down, in a little combo of oil and butter. Then I finish cooking them (sort of part steaming, part braising), covered, in a little bit of liquid. You can easily add garlic, ginger, citrus, soy, or other flavorings to the liquid or at the end of cooking to fancy up the side dish. But this basic cooking method gives a perfectly delicious result.

Skillet Seared & Steamed Baby Bok Choy

Baby bok choy can vary in size a lot; choose heads that are all about the same size for this technique. If the heads are wider than 2 inches, cut them in quarters, rather than halves, for cooking.


¼ cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon honey
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
4 baby bok choy (6 to 7 inches long, 2 inches wide), about 10 to 12 ounces, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, washed and spun dry
¼ tsp. kosher salt


Combine the chicken broth, the soy sauce, and the honey in a glass measuring cup and whisk to combine well. In a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan that has a lid, heat the vegetable oil and ½ tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted and is bubbling, sprinkle the ¼ teaspoon salt over the pan. Arrange the bok choy, cut-side down (or one cut side down), in one layer in the pan. (They will be snug.) Cook, without stirring, until the undersides of the bok choy are deeply browned, 6 to 7 minutes.

Carefully pour the liquids into the pan and cover immediately. Simmer until the liquid is almost completely reduced (a teaspoon or two will be left), 5 to 6 minutes. (Check occasionally to make sure the liquids don’t reduce entirely and start to burn.) Uncover, remove the pan from the heat, and transfer the bok choy to a serving platter. Add the remaining ½ tablespoon butter and a tablespoon of water and stir well with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon as the butter melts, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Scrape and pour the pan sauce over the bok choy.

Serves 2 to 3