How to ruin a vegetable

Our Saturday supper started off with promise. We made a trip to the Raleigh Farmer’s market and picked up a bounty of fresh produce and pork raised on a small, local farm:

Pork, tomatoes, Daikon radish, zucchini, and elephant garlic sprouts

The garlic sprouts looked beautiful.

As did the spring onions.

“What could possibly go wrong?” you ask. Well, I committed the cardinal sin of cooking fresh vegetables: I got fancy. I sauteed the daikon radish in chicken broth, added some of the garlic sprouts, cream, and a few other things I can’t remember. It was a mess of flavors, the culinary equivalent of puce, the tastes competing with rather than complementing each other. A similar disaster occurred with the zucchini.

It was another reminder of the most important rule to follow when you have fresh, seasonal vegetables: Steam them, add some olive oil or butter and salt, and leave them alone.

But then there was the pork. What a spectacular pig it must have been. It came from Mae Farm Meats in Louisburg, NC, whose web site shows happy, fat pigs lounging in the sun. A happy pig is a tasty pig. The ham steak we purchased was surrounded by a beautiful layer of flavorful fat, and it was arguably the best pork I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to try the bacon–and I cannot resist adding that it was $2 per pound less than Whole Foods.

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