Farm Fresh: Grilled Baby Bok Choy
Farm Fresh is a series of recipes
designed to showcase produce gathered
from local farms or grown in my own garden.
It’s only April but I’m already thinking about breaking out my grill. My grill is, well, not something to really write home about, or, for that matter, to write a blog post about. I got it for about five bucks from some big box store a few years ago. But, when there are fresh young vegetables to be cooked up, it’s my weapon of choice. Nothing beats grilled asparagus, zucchini, eggplant, and peppers. Nothing, that is, except for Grilled Baby Bok Choy.
You’ve never heard of grilled baby bok choy? Heck, never even heard of baby bok choy itself? Let me tell you, this is a truly unique inaugural dish for this year’s grilling season. For those of you in more temperate climates, baby bok choy is probably already on your local farmers market’s tables. For those in the Northeastern United States, like me, it’ll be coming along shortly with the start of asparagus season. I have the good fortune to grow it myself and love the looks of these delicate plants in the ground.
But they don’t just look good. These little cabbage relatives native to China are also very healthy, chocked full with Vitamin C, beta-carotene, and iron. When buying baby bok choy, which is often sold by the pound, look for full dark green leaves and light green tight bottoms. The tighter the bottoms, the easier it is to grill them since they hold their shape better.
Whether you have a tiny dusty charcoal Weber like me or a granddaddy of a gas grill, you’ll wish baby bok choy was in season all summer to accompany your grilled fish, asparagus or sweet corn. Sadly, since baby bok choy succumbs to summer’s heat, it won’t be around much past June.
Grilled Baby Bok Choy
You will need:
4 heads of baby bok choy
2 T. fresh squeezed lemon or orange juice
2/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (not minced)
2 T. fresh herbs of your choosing, such as dill or sage, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1 T. balsamic vinegar or low-sodium soy sauce
Handful of pine nuts or chopped walnuts
Romano cheese, grated
Slice heads of baby bok choy in half length-wise (leaves to stem). Soak in cool water for 10 minutes to perk them up and remove any grit hidden inside. While heads soak, heat olive oil in small frying pan. Add thinly sliced garlic and stir until just golden brown (about 1 minute). With a slotted spoon, remove garlic to a paper towel and take pan off heat.
Take baby bok choy out of water and gently shake/pat dry. Slice off upper dark green parts of the leaves from the lighter heads. Coarsely chop leaves and set to the side. Brush both sides of heads with garlic-infused oil. Place with cut side up and sprinkle with lemon/orange juice, salt and pepper and herbs.
Place seasoned heads on pre-heated grill with cut side down. Cover grill for 5 to 8 minutes. Remove cover and turn heads over. There should be a nice golden color starting to appear. Drizzle balsamic vinegar or soy sauce over cut sides of heads. Cover again for 5 minutes.* Remove cover and turn heads one last time back to the cut side. Remove from grill when fork-tender.
*At this point, head to the stove and heat up the remaining oil in the small fry pan. When hot, add pine nuts or walnuts and toast slightly for a minute or two. Add chopped baby bok choy leaves and salt and pepper. Stir constantly until wilted, but still very green (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat and toss in fresh herbs if desired.
To plate up, put heads on plate and top with leaves, nuts and a sprinkle of cheese. Add more balsamic vinegar or soy sauce if desired.