All Posts In Farmers’ Market Finds

Market Watch: Artichokes

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, May 13, 2017

With its spiky tips and armadillo-like scales, the artichoke has been known to repel many a timid eater. If you can get past their formidable appearance, though, artichokes are a delight — mild in flavor, and even fun to eat. What’s not to like about a vegetable that can be eaten with your hands, and is a vehicle for melted butter?

Grown primarily in California, artichokes are actually unopened flowers from the thistle family. Though there are over 50 varieties, the most common is the Green Globe, an Italian type with a bright green hue. The choke — or thistle — is inedible, as are the tough outer leaves and prickly tips. The heart, which is really the base of the artichoke, is considered the tastiest part. Though they are harvested year-round, artichokes are at their peak in spring, from March through May. Read more

How to Shop the Farmers Market on a Budget

by in Farmers' Market Finds, May 11, 2017

One of the best things about the arrival of spring is the re-emergence of farmers markets. Who doesn’t love a good weekend stroll through rows of locally grown produce? But although the produce is fresh and beautiful, it can also be quite expensive. Instead of dropping $10 on two apples and a carton of berries, use these dietitian-approved money saving tips to spare your wallet during your next trip to the farmers market.

 

1. Get to know your farmer.

Farmers are people too! Because they spend all day standing around in what can be rough climates, they like to break up the day and have a conversation about the produce. Farmers are passionate about their work and they’ll appreciate when you are too,” says Christy Brissette, MSc, RD of 80 Twenty Nutrition. She adds that striking up a conversation with a local farmer will not only provide insight into the origins of your food, but you may also find some extra veggies added to your bag. Plus, you’ll have made a knowledgeable friend, who can help you navigate the ins and outs of the market. Read more

Rhubarb, Beyond Pie

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, April 27, 2017

One of the few truly seasonal foods, rhubarb is available now through the summer. Long red and green stalks of rhubarb are often used as a fruit – think pie, jam, and sweet-tart sauces – but it is actually a vegetable.

Rhubarb facts

Perennial rhubarb plants must be subjected to a hard freeze in order to grow and flourish in the spring. Hearty Midwestern and Northern gardeners are rewarded for making it through the winter when rhubarb is one of the first plants – along with asparagus – to emerge from their gardens. Read more

Market Watch: Asparagus

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, April 11, 2017

The arrival of asparagus at farmer’s markets makes it official: spring has finally sprung. Thick or thin, green, white, or even purple, asparagus reins supreme for a few short months — beginning in March or April, and ending sometime in early June. It’s said that this member of the lily family was the favorite vegetable of Thomas Jefferson. King Louis XIV of France was another fan, referring to it as the “king of vegetables.” Today, it retains its hoity-toity reputation, with chefs devising entire tasting menus to showcase its bright, springy flavor. For home chefs, asparagus can lend a sophisticated feel to an ordinary weeknight dinner, not to mention an Easter feast.

 

Asparagus facts

Closely related to garlic, onions, and leeks, asparagus is high in fiber, and a good source of iron, vitamin C and folate.

While thickness is a matter of taste, there’s no arguing about freshness. Choose stalks that are bright in color and firm, with tightly closed tips. Avoid any spears that are bent, or have open flowers. Wrap the ends of a bunch of asparagus in a wet paper towel, place in the crisper drawer and store up to three days. For best results, though, cook asparagus the same day you purchase it. In addition to tasting better, fresher asparagus will also retain more Vitamin C. Read more

5 Spring Vegetables You May Not Know

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, March 31, 2017

Seeing the first glimpse of spring vegetables make their appearance at the farmer’s market this month is a welcome change from winter’s hearty abundance. While the usual suspects — bright pink radishes, tender asparagus spears, and bright green snap peas — are there, you’ll also find more unexpected options like fiddleheads, ramps, morels and more. While these vegetables aren’t as common, don’t be intimidated! Familiarize yourself with each of these unique spring market finds and ways you can use each in a fresh and flavorful spring recipe.

 

Fiddlehead ferns

Fiddlehead ferns are the coiled tips of a young fern; deriving their name from the resemblance to the decorative end of a fiddle. This unique vegetable has a grassy, slight nutty flavor that’s similar to asparagus. Try them lightly steamed or boiled, then finished with olive oil and lemon for a quick side dish. They can also be swapped into almost any cooked recipe that features asparagus or haricot verts.

Let fiddleheads take center stage by replacing them for the asparagus in this Healthy Roast Asparagus with Creamy Almond Vinaigrette. Read more

Market Watch: Radishes

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, March 16, 2017

Radishes

Grown throughout the world, radishes come in a surprising number of shapes, sizes, and colors, from the large, white daikon to the ping-pong ball sized red globe radish. They range in flavor too, from slightly peppery to seriously pungent. What they have in common is a satisfyingly crunchy texture and an ability to add fresh flavor to all sorts of dishes. Though they are in season all year long, they are at their peak from spring to summer. Look for them at local farmer’s markets, where you are likely to find varieties like the whimsically named French breakfast radish, an elongated red-skinned radish with a white tip and a mild flavor, striking black radishes that pack a seriously spicy punch, and gorgeous pale green watermelon radishes that reveal a hot pink interior once sliced.

 

Radish facts

Radishes belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables, and like cousins broccoli and cabbage, offer up a wealth of nutrition. They are particularly high in Vitamin C and contain fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals called indoles, which have a detoxifying effect on the body. What’s more: radishes have only 20 calories in an entire cup.

Choose radishes that are firm and free of cracks or brown spots. Before refrigerating them, snip off the greens and place the red bulbs in a plastic bag. If the greens are still crisp and not beginning to wilt, rinse them and refrigerate them separately. Plan on using the leaves within a day or so, as they won’t stay fresh for long. The radish bulbs can be stored up to two weeks. Read more

Market Watch: Romanesco

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, February 19, 2017

Romanesco

With its florescent lime-green hue and funky spire-shaped florets, Romanesco looks a little like broccoli from another planet. In fact, its alien appearance earned it a cameo in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” (In one scene, Rey is shown biting into an apple studded with Romanesco florets, which drew commentary from famed astrophysicist and Star Wars fact-checker, Neil deGrasse Tyson.) In reality, this cruciferous veggie, sometimes referred to as Romanesco broccoli, is more closely related to cauliflower than broccoli. It’s also a bit crunchier with a milder, slightly nutty flavor. Though Romanesco has been on the menu in Italy since the 16th century, it didn’t make its debut in the United States until the late 90s. Until recently, it was found mostly at farmer’s markets. These days, however, you might spot it at your local supermarket during the fall and winter.

 

Romanesco Facts

Like other members of the Brassica family, including kale and cabbage, Romanesco is high in Vitamins C and K, and is a good source of dietary fiber. Romanesco is also particularly high in carotenoids and phytochemicals.

 

When buying Romanesco, choose heads that are bright in color. The stem should be firm, with no signs of wilting. Any attached leaves should be perky and crisp. Pick it up: it should feel dense and heavy for its size. Store it in a sealed plastic bag and refrigerate for up to a week. Read more

In Season: Blood Oranges

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, February 3, 2017

Long popular in Italy and Spain, these ruby-hued oranges are now being cultivated in Texas and California. Available from December to April, blood oranges are often both sweeter and less tart than other types of oranges, with a pleasantly bitter edge. Some people say they can even detect a hint of raspberry flavor.

 

Blood Orange Facts:

Harvesting blood oranges in the winter, when they are at the peak of ripeness, ensures that they are highest in anthocyanins, the compound that gives them their vivid blood-red color. Anthocyanins are thought to help stave off heart disease and cancer, as well protect eye health. Blood oranges are also an excellent source of fiber and Vitamin C.

Choose firm oranges that are heavy for their size and store for a week at room temperature, or up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Read more

5 Root Vegetables You Need To Try

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, January 7, 2017

When you think of root vegetables, do you automatically picture potatoes, carrots and onions? While these veggies are classic favorites, they can also be a bit uninspiring. Luckily, the cold weather brings some delectable and underutilized root vegetables to the forefront. Try something new in your cold-weather cooking and branch out into turnips, rutabaga, celeriac, sunchokes or parsnips. These veggies are supremely nutritious and can be used in a variety of ways.

Turnips

A member of the cabbage family, turnips look like a mix between a radish and beet. Not only can you eat the bulb, but the turnip greens are edible too. Packed with vitamins and minerals, the greens have a taste similar to kale. The turnip bulb is a good source of potassium, a nutrient known for lowering blood pressure, and the greens contain calcium, vitamin K and vitamin A. Eating the entire turnip is a surefire way to get your daily dose of nutrients.

“Turnips are delicious when prepared simply,” says chef and registered dietitian Abbie Gellman, M.S., R.D., CDN. “Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until golden brown.”

Rutabaga

Also known as a yellow turnip, a rutabaga is slightly larger and sweeter than a turnip and pale yellow in color. The waxy outer skin prevents dehydration, and the flesh turns somewhat orange when cooked. Rutabagas are an excellent source of vitamin C to help ward off winter colds, and they also contain potassium and fiber.

This starchy vegetable lends itself well to a basic mash. Try swapping out half the Yukon golds for rutabaga in your basic mashed potato recipe. Read more

Market Watch: Kabocha Squash

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, October 11, 2016

This lesser-known variety of winter squash is having its heyday at local farmers markets right now. Don’t be intimidated by its dark and rough exterior; inside is a gourd full of goodness.

Kabocha Facts
A Japanese variety of squash, kabocha resembles a squatty, dark green pumpkin. Its outer skin is rough and bumpy, but inside hides a vibrant pale-orange flesh that tastes like a cross between a sweet potato and a pumpkin. Kabocha also delivers in the nutrition department, offering plentiful amounts of vitamins A and C, folate, potassium and fiber.

What to Do with Kabocha Squash
Much like pumpkin and butternut squash, kabocha can go in a wide variety of culinary directions. As with many winter squashes, the biggest challenge is dealing with the tough outer skin. Peeling it won’t be easy, so it’s better to cut it open, remove the seeds, and peel away the skin after boiling or roasting — you can also make it in a slow cooker.

Once mashed or pureed, the squash yields an incredibly light, silky and flavorful flesh that permeates your senses with the smell and taste of fall. Use it as a main ingredient for soups and sauces. You can enhance its flavor with earthy accoutrements like sage, cardamom and cinnamon or take things in a completely different direction with citrus and coconut milk. Kabocha’s natural sweetness and creamy texture also work nicely in muffins, breads, pie, panna cotta and ice cream. Read more

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