Harvest Kitchen Turmeric for Flavor and Health

Winter 2018-2019
Turmeric grown by students at the Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast and entered in the 2018 Common Ground Country Fair Exhibition Hall.

By Roberta Bailey

High tunnels have changed the cycles of Maine’s local food systems, extending our live food harvests to year-round bounty. Along with cucumbers, greens, sweet potatoes and tomatoes come the fresh roots of ginger and turmeric. These fresh spices bring delicious new flavor profiles to our fall and winter meals. How many of us had eaten freshly harvested turmeric or ginger in the past?

Turmeric root is smaller than ginger root and is so richly golden orange that it makes me think of the golden robes of certain orders of monks. The flavor is warm, bitter and complex. It is used in Asian cuisines, is a main ingredient in curry blends, and often flavors pickles and relishes.

According to “10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin” by Kris Gunnars (Healthline, July 13, 2018), turmeric also has many medicinal uses. Rich in curcurmins, it is anti-inflammatory and a very strong antioxidant, he says, and it helps increase circulation. Used in a concentrated tincture form, it can combat arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease, Gunnars adds.

I try to add it to every soup, stew and stir fry I make all winter. Every health benefit and the rich flavor contribute to my winter well-being.

Sweet Potato Soup

2 large sweet potatoes

1 stalk of lemongrass

1 large onion, diced

2 c. water

2 c. vegetable or chicken broth

1/4 c. fish sauce

1 can unsweetened coconut milk

1/4 c. white miso

1 to 2 Tbsp. finely grated fresh turmeric root or 1 tsp. ground turmeric

2 Tbsp. lime juice

Garnish options: roasted peanuts, toasted coconut flakes or dried chili flakes

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place the sweet potatoes whole or halved on a greased baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 35 to 45 minutes. Cool and scoop out the flesh.

While the potato bakes, in a large pot simmer the lemongrass and diced onion in the water and broth.

Remove the lemongrass. Add the fish sauce, coconut milk, miso and turmeric root. Add the sweet potato and blend until smooth. Warm but do not boil, as boiling will kill the live probiotics in the miso. Remove from heat.  Add the lime juice. Adjust to taste. Serve.

Hot Turmeric Latte

1/2 c. coconut milk, regular milk or other nut milk

3/4 c. water

1 to 3 tsp. honey or maple syrup

4 tsp. grated fresh turmeric root or 1 tsp. ground turmeric

1 tsp. freshly grated ginger root

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Pinch of salt (optional)

In a small saucepan, whisk together all ingredients except the honey. Bring to a low boil, then remove from heat and add honey if using it. Let steep for 5 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh and pour into a mug to serve.

Roasted Carrots with Turmeric

8 to 10 medium carrots, well-scrubbed or peeled

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh turmeric root or 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric

1/4 Tbsp. each ground cumin and coriander

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes or mild chili powder

2 Tbsp. minced fresh mint (optional)

Cut the carrot roots into desired shape. Toss with oil and salt. Spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast at 425 F until soft – 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces.

In a small bowl, stir together the butter, turmeric, cumin and pepper flakes.

Place roasted carrots in a bowl, toss with butter and herbs. Add the mint. Serve.

Turmeric Chick Pea Salad

2 c. cooked chickpeas

4 tsp. olive oil

1 c. finely diced onion

1 tsp. finely grated turmeric root or 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. coriander

1/4 tsp. cayenne or chili powder

5 tsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1/4 tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

In a deep sauté pan, sauté the onion in olive oil. Once soft, add the fresh turmeric, cumin, coriander and cayenne. Stir and sauté 2 to 3 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Add the chick peas. Toss. Place in a bowl. Refrigerate until well cooled, about 1 hour. Add lemon juice and chopped cilantro or parsley. Adjust salt. Serve.

Fresh Turmeric Root Paste

For use in any cooking or added to hot beverages

2 Tbsp. coconut oil

2-inch piece of turmeric root, peeled and finely grated

1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and grated

1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1/3 c. water, divided

Combine all ingredients with half of the water. Cook, stirring until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring constantly and adding the remainder of the water as needed. The mixture will form a paste in about 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a glass jar and cool. Store in refrigerator for up to two weeks. Can be frozen in small portions, as in an ice cube tray.

About the author: Roberta is MOFGA’s long-time recipe columnist. She and Rob Lemire own Seven Tree Farm in Vassalboro, and Roberta works for Fedco Seeds as well.

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