All Posts In Farmers’ Market Finds

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

Market Watch: Tomatillos

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, August 14, 2016

One of the best things about going to the farmers market is you never know what you might find. I ran to my local market in the hopes of picking up some tomatoes, but instead I simply couldn’t resist these neon-green tomatillos. If you’re intimidated by this member of the nightshade family, don’t be; they are easy to cook with, and there are many ways to enjoy them.

Tomatillo Facts
Also known as a “jamberry,” the tomatillo is related to the gooseberry. Tucked behind a papery husk is a bright green fruit that resembles a petite tomato. Tomatillos are firm, shiny and slightly sticky to the touch. Remove the husk and wash before enjoying them cooked or raw. There’s plenty of nutrition packed into these beauties: One cup contains 42 calories, 1 gram of unsaturated fat and 2 grams of both protein and fiber. There’s also potassium, niacin, iron and more than 25 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C.

What to Do with Tomatillos
Choose tomatillos with intact husks and firm skin. They will keep at room temperature for a day or so and should then be stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator drawer for up to one month. Use them to create salsa (aka salsa verde) and guacamole. Blend them with chiles, cucumber, fresh herbs and vodka for a marvelous spin on a classic brunch cocktail. Read more

Market Watch: Basil

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, July 27, 2016

Fresh herbs are flourishing at the local markets. Head out and grab some basil to make these exciting and unexpected recipes.

Basil Facts
Basil is rich in nutrients like vitamins A and C, plus it contains phytochemicals — good-for-you plant-based compounds. Since you probably don’t eat cups of herbs at a time, using small amounts daily in a wide range of recipes allows for the nutrients to stack up.

Basil options are more diverse than you might think. Look for beautiful bouquets of common varieties like “sweet” or “Christmas” for tomato sauce and salads. Try cinnamon basil on fruit salad or spicy Thai basil with noodle and rice dishes. The deep-purple leaves of opal basil make a showstopping pesto or pizza topper.

What to Do with Basil
Basil can be stored like flowers in a small glass of water on the counter for a couple of days. You can also store leaves loosely wrapped in a plastic bag with some paper towels in the veggie drawer of the fridge.

Stack those aromatic leaves on sandwiches, toss them into salad greens, or mash them into hummus, pesto and guacamole. Basil can also be used for dessert, incorporated into frozen treats like sorbet and ice pops. Read more

Market Watch: Sweet Cherries

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

Few fruits taste as amazingly sweet and scrumptious as a freshly picked cherry. Head out to your local farmers market soon, as they are only available for a short time.

Cherry Facts

One cup of cherries contains 90 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein. You will also find about 10 percent of the daily requirement for potassium, 16 percent for vitamin C and 3 percent for iron. Cherries are rich in antioxidants known as anthocyanins, powerful plant compounds that may help reduce the risk of heart cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.

What to Do with Cherries

Enjoy cherries as part of snacks, baked goods, beverages and frozen treats. Accompany them with flavors like almond or vanilla to enhance the natural essence of this magnificent fruit. Sweet preparations are most intuitive, but the tangy flavor also works well in savory applications like salsas and pan sauces.

When at the market, look for cherries that are deep red in color, firm and unblemished. Once you bring them home, store them in the fridge wrapped in a plastic bag. You can also freeze pitted cherries for up to six months. Use this step-by-step guide to learn how to easily pit fresh cherries. Read more

Market Watch: Fennel

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, June 14, 2016

If you don’t think you’re a fan of fennel, it’s the perfect time of year to give this remarkable veggie another chance. Head to the farmers market and pick up these sweet and delicate young bulbs while the getting’s good.


Fennel Facts

These edible bulbs of fennel are referred to as the “Florence” or “finocchio” variety. Don’t be turned off by the anise descriptor often attached to this member of the carrot family. Fennel’s licorice essence is extremely subtle and becomes even more subdued when cooked.

Fennel also contains plentiful amounts of vitamins and minerals, including A, C, folate, calcium and potassium. One cup has fewer than 30 calories but 3 grams of hunger-fighting fiber. Read more

Farmers’ Market Finds: Scapes and Rabes, Beyond Broccoli and Garlic

by in Farmers' Market Finds, May 28, 2016

If you haunt your farmers market looking for signs of spring, you’re probably familiar with garlic scapes and broccoli rabe…they’re some of the first greens you’ll find. But scapes and rabe come in more varieties than garlic and broccoli. Here’s the skinny on what they are and what other varieties to look for.


What Are Scapes?

These shoots are one of the first edible greens to crop up in spring. Scapes are simply flower stalks that grow out of the bulbs of garlic, onions and leeks. At the top of each is a bulb that will flower if left unplucked. For eating, though, scapes are picked when the green stalk is sturdy and the bulb is still a bulb. Scapes taste like the alliums they grow from, and you can use them in places you would use chopped onion.


How to Use Scapes

To cook scapes, remove the bulbs and use the stalks. Chop them finely and saute to soften. Add them to omelets or quiche, blitz them into a pesto or preserve them by pickling. Read more

Market Watch: Green Tiger Zucchini

by in Farmers' Market Finds, July 18, 2014

If zucchini is a seasonal staple in your kitchen, be on the lookout at farmers markets for tiger zucchini, a less common variety. Named for its pale green stripes, tiger zucchini is a European hybrid that is best when harvested young (on the smaller side). The flavor is sweet and nutty with a tender crunch.

One medium specimen of the summer squash has only 30 calories and 2 grams of each fiber and protein. And it’s not so shabby in the vitamin and mineral department: Each tiger zucchini contains 56 percent of the daily recommendation for vitamin C, 4 percent iron and 15 to 20 percent of B vitamins folate, B6 and riboflavin.

Thanks to their good flavor, tiger zucchini can be used in any recipe that calls for conventional zucchini, including these:

Read more

Market Watch: Donut Peaches

by in Farmers' Market Finds, September 1, 2013

donut peaches
Bursting with fresh summer sweetness, these lesser-known peaches are worth scooping up if you see them at the market!

Also known as a Saturn peach, this pleasantly “smushed” variety is a bit tricky to slice uniformly. But that’s part of what makes the peaches special–they’re a little goofy looking, but the flavor can’t be beat. Chomp into this tender and juicy peach, and you’ll find that it’s delicate, sweet and less acidic than traditional kinds.

Because of their odd shape, donut peaches are difficult to peel. They’re best for snacking out of hand or in recipes where that deliciously fuzzy skin can be left intact. Salsa and muffins are two personal favorites.

Recipes to Try:
Peach Muffins
Grilled Chicken Breasts with Spicy Peach Glaze
Rosemary-Mustard Pork with Peaches
Frozen Fruit Cups
Mango and Peach Salsa

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

Market Watch: Heirloom Eggplants

by in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, August 4, 2013

heirloom eggplant
Most passersby ooh and ahh over these fantastically gorgeous nightshade veggies and then pass on buying them because they have no idea what to do with them! I’m here to help.

You certainly won’t come across these gorgeous gnarly varieties of eggplant in your local large chain grocery store. White, striped and even pumpkin-shaped — these oddly-shaped eggplants are mild and sweet and can be enjoyed in any eggplant recipe. They work especially well for roasting, grilling and other recipes where a perfect round shape isn’t necessary.

These eggplants go by names like Rosa Bianca and Pandora Striped; ask farmers at the market which varieties they’re growing.

Recipes To Try:
Eggplant Salad
Eggplant Ricotta Bites
Roasted Eggplant Spread
Grilled Eggplant with Yogurt and Mint
Roasted Eggplant Salad (Baingan-Bharta)
Pork Tenderloin with Eggplant Relish

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

Market Watch: Goat’s Milk Feta

by in Farmers' Market Finds, July 20, 2013

Sometimes I go to the farmers’ market in search of items that have nothing to do with produce. Local farmers often have other goodies like meats, cheeses, eggs, honey and baked goods to offer. On a recent trip to my favorite market I picked up a package of a profoundly delicious cheese: feta made from local goat’s milk.

Originating in Greece, feta cheese has been made for centuries. Classically made with sheep’s milk, some versions may also be a combination of both sheep and goat’s milk. Newer versions of this cheese from countries other than Greece may also be made with cow’s milk. Curds of the cheese are pressed together into blocks and stored in brine, which contributes to feta’s unique tangy flavor.

Cheese lovers will also be happy to know that feta is naturally lower in calories. One ounce of feta contains 40 fewer calories and 3 fewer grams of fat than the same portion of cheddar.

Read more