When I first opened my restaurant, Ginger and Lemongrass Trout was featured on my menu.
I had a very bruty and uncouth customer barge into my kitchen and say with an alarming amount of hatred; “You are a liar! Ginger and lemongrass don’t grow in Kansas!”
Ha. With heat surging through every cell of my body, I looked him square in the eye and said, “You are mistaken, yes it does.”
By this time the heat had risen to make my hair figuratively light on fire, and a classic snarky smile curled along my freckled face.
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He was not so graciously removed from my kitchen.
Several years ago my farmer, Jacki from Heritage Acres, was brave enough to try growing ginger here locally, and now, it is ever present.
Ginger grown here tends to have a thin delicate skin, which doesn’t need to be peeled. Just wash and rub off the dirt. And the stalks and leaves are a brilliant evergreen color while being shaped like a petite palm tree.
Here’s the best thing about our local ginger, every stitch of it can be used. The root has a delicate spice and the texture is closer to a crisp apple, instead of stringy and woody. While the stems have notes of lime leaves and feel like a hearty green bean, the palms, sliced really thin permeate orange peel with slight aroma of ginger. Oh it is bliss.
Use the roots in anything, salad, cake, pie, rice, marinades and whatever else you use onion and garlic.
Thinly slice the stalks and either try them while sautéing peas, or simply pour hot water over and steep for a brilliant tea.
The palms, think of it like an herb. Slice thin, (chiffonade) and add to salads, slaw, finish rice, you name it, just get excited about it and experiment.
Find it at the Overland Park Farmers Market. Heritage Acres inspired their neighbors to grow the ginger as well as lemon grass, so there should be plenty. Please do me a favor, save the last bunch for me.
My whole ginger use:
Field Bean Salad
Makes 4-6 servings
1 pound field beans of your choice, sliced very thin.
1 tablespoons ginger root
1/2 cup ginger stalk, sliced very thin, use a mandoline if you can
1/2 cup ginger leaves chiffonade
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1 zest of orange
1-2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Mix together, allow to marinate at least 30 minutes. Use on fish, or chicken. Shave a little cheese on it and eat it by itself.
Renee Kelly is the owner of Renee Kelly’s Harvest in Johnson County. Her passion lies in changing the food system, one plate at a time. Her inspiration is Mother Nature and the many growers in the Kansas City area.