by Abigail Chipley in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, May 13, 2017
by Natalie Rizzo in Farmers' Market Finds, May 11, 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
by Abigail Chipley in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, April 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
by Abigail Chipley in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, February 19, 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.
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
by Dana Angelo White in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, October 11, 2016
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.
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
by Dana Angelo White in Healthy Recipes, August 21, 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.
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
by Dana Angelo White in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, July 27, 2016
At this point in the season you might feel like you’re drowning in fruits and veggies. Don’t let all that summer produce go to waste. Here are some delicious and healthy ways to hold on to the goodness a bit longer.
Bake an abundance of produce into muffins, cakes, pies cobblers, crisps and even cookies. User-friendly options include seasonal berries, chopped stone fruit and shredded summer squash and carrots. Herbs, onions, spinach kale and other savory items can be incorporated into breads, biscuits and pizza crusts as well.
Recipe to Try: Blueberry Whole-Wheat Muffins
Salads and Slaws
Get some extra mileage out of cabbage, kale, beet greens, kohlrabi and broccoli (stems and all). Shred or spiralize them, then give them a quick toss in a flavorful dressing. You can pack a whole bunch of nutrition into a side salad like this.
Recipe to Try: Cabbage-Kohlrabi Slaw
by Dana Angelo White in Farmers' Market Finds, In Season, June 14, 2016
Fresh herbs are flourishing at the local markets. Head out and grab some basil to make these exciting and unexpected recipes.
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
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.
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