Winter may not be the time we associate with abundance, but in Cayman’s climate we are blessed with many delicious fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the ‘cooler’ season, despite the shorter days.
Walk around the farmer’s market and you’ll see a plethora of greens laid out, with various types of kale (Siberian, curly, lacinato) alongside Egyptian spinach, Chinese watercress, callaloo, bok choy, mustard greens and arugula.
It is prime time for Cayman’s tomatoes, some of the juiciest and sweetest little morsels you’ll ever taste. Then there are bunches of earthy root vegetables like beets, carrots, radishes and kohlrabi, glossy purple eggplants and peppery scallions – the list goes on.
Make the most of Caymanian farmers’ seasonal produce with these veg-filled recipes…
Juiced, pickled, roasted or spiralized, this root vegetable packs a big punch of essential nutrients, fiber and antioxidants.
Beets were first cultivated by the Romans, but demand spiked in the 19th century when people realized the roots could be commercially converted into sugar. It’s a mainstay of Central European dishes, including Borscht soup, and its earthy flavor makes a happy marriage with oily fish (think: mackerel and salmon), creamy goat cheese or crumbled feta.
The deeply pigmented purple variety is by far the most nutritious and contains the cancer-fighting compound betacyanin, although the golden and white heritage beets look pretty as fine slivers in salads and garnishes. If your hands do get dark stains from cooking beetroot, a rub of lemon juice should lift off the color; leave the skins on while cooking to keep the pigment locked in.
And don’t let the iron-rich leaves go to waste – as beets belong to the same family as spinach and chard, you can use their green ends in the same ways, such as steaming, sautéing or blitzing into a pesto.
We typically picture tomatoes as round, red things, but really you can find everything from ridged to teardrop shapes, yellow to green to purplish hues, and grape-sized to beefy giants.
As one of the most eagerly anticipated and enjoyed seasonal fruits in Cayman, now’s the time to enjoy raw tomatoes simply sliced with good mozzarella, basil and olive oil, on a balsamic-drizzled bruschetta or stirred through cooked pasta.
As healthy as they are versatile, half a cup of tomatoes provides around six percent of your recommended daily allowance of potassium (a mineral associated with lower rates of stroke and heart disease) and plenty of Vitamins A and C. The red varieties also contain a compound called lycopene, which may help to reduce cholesterol.
With its tart, jammy taste and crimson color, sorrel positively sings of Christmas in Cayman. The flowers (also known as roselle) are traditionally made into a festive punch, but they also work a treat in cocktails, desserts and jellies.