Organic Picks | January 14th, 2015

TangerinesYoung Thai CoconutsPortabella MushroomsCherry TomatoesCollard Greens

Best if used by 01/21/15

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Organic Tangerines

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Seeds versus flavor. Most people are annoyed by seeds in their citrus and relegate seeded-varieties to making fresh-squeezed juice. Well, during the rest of January, Organic Citrus lovers in search of tasty seasonal varieties might still appreciate Tangerines. Tangerines don’t peel quite as easily as Mandarins (a subset of Tangerine varieties) and have seeds – lots of seeds. But Tangerines are very juicy and can be really delicious.

Organic Daisy Tangerines are actually considered a Mandarin by some because the fruit tastes a bit like Clementines. They have dark orange skin that fits snugly over dark orange flesh that’s loaded with juice… and seeds. I must admit, even though I prefer seedless mandarins to Tangerines, the Organic Daisy Tangerines I tasted this week had big sweetness plus that classic tangerine tanginess. Daisy Tangerines are in season from California for a few more weeks, so try them while you can.

Tangerine Tips

  • Select Tangerines that feel heavy for their size.
  • Avoid soft and squishy feeling Tangerines as they are likely to go bad soon.
  • Keep them in the fridge for a week or on the counter at room temperature for a couple days.
  • Tangerines are excellent for fresh-squeezed juice.

Intensely sweet, Organic Daisy Tangerines from California are hard to top in the flavor department.

Organic Young Thai Coconuts

Peak Season    Best Flavor

So if you’re like me, you grew up tasting coconut in the form of dried coconut shavings sweetened with some sugar and mostly on desserts. Well, there’s a whole other world of healthy, flavorful recipes ideas for Coconuts that involves fresh Coconut Flesh and Coconut Water – smoothies, juices and Asian-inspired cuisine. Young Thai Coconuts are sold at Asian markets, specialty foods stores and health food stores.

Young Thai Coconuts are picked before the outer green husk opens naturally and the Coconut’s inner husk ripens to a tough brown shell. The outer green husk is carved down to a cone shape and the fruit is wrapped in plastic and exported from Thailand. The prize inside is Coconut Water, “nature’s sports drink.” Coconut Water is loaded B-vitamins and electrolytes. Smoothie and juicing enthusiasts add the water and soft, white flesh to their blends or simply drink the viscous, sweet liquid straight-up.

Opening a Young Thai Coconut takes some work. You must hack open the top with a butcher knife or hammer a clean screw-driver through the top to get your straw inside. I’ve also seen Coconut hole-punch tools that make a straw-hole too.

Good news for supporters of organic agriculture around the world, as of Fall 2014, Certified Organic Young Thai Coconuts are now available in the US in select health food stores, juice bars and food coops. Look for the USDA Organic seal on the label.

Healthy Food Specialty Pick! Young Thai Coconuts – the water inside is “Nature’s Sports Drink”

Organic Portabella Mushrooms

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

The steak of veggies, Organic Portabella Mushroom caps are big (3-5” in diameter) and have meaty flesh that features a rich, earthy yet accessible flavor. Grown inside, Mushrooms are always in season. In fact, my home state of Pennsylvania grows more Organic Mushrooms than any other. Organic Portabella Mushrooms are ideal for sautéing, stuffing, use in casseroles and lasagna recipes, and of course for on the grill… weather permitting!

Recipe: Sautéed Balsamic Portabella Mushrooms

“Oh no! My grill is covered with ice and snow and I can grill my Portabella Mushrooms.” No worries, they’re great sautéed!

  1. Remove the stems and wipe the caps of 3 Portabella Mushrooms with a damp paper towel
  2. Slice the Portabellas into ½” slices
  3. Marinate the sliced mushrooms in ½ cup of Balsamic Salad Dressing for 10 minutes
  4. Over medium heat, Sauté the Mushrooms and marinade, about 3-4 min on each side
  5. Serve as a side dish, over meat, or on top of rice, quinoa or noodles

When you can’t grill, Balsamic Sautéed Portabella Mushrooms are just right.

 
 

Organic Cherry Tomatoes

Peak Season    Value Priced

Bursting with juice and a noticeable tomato flavor, Organic Cherry Tomatoes are ideal as an ingredient tomato. Halved or whole for salads, blended into salsas, sautéed or roasted to intensify the flavor. Yes, you can snack on them, but they’re bigger and slightly more acidic than Grape Tomatoes. Organic vegetable growers in Florida like Lady Moon Farms just finished a period of nice harvests on this tomato variety, so keep an eye out for advertised or in-store specials this week!

Cherry Tomato Tips

  • Do not refrigerate Tomatoes. Cold temps tend to make them soft and zaps their flavor. Room temperature is best to help the keep their texture.
  • Select Cherry Tomatoes that appear firm, free from wrinkles and black spots, and have no wetness in the pack.
  • Cherry Tomato recipes from Lady Moon Farms.

Recipe: Roasted Cherry Tomato and Raw Zucchini Ribbons Pesto Pasta

  1. Using a mandolin or cheese grater, shred 2 Zucchini into pasta-like ribbons
  2. Rinse 2 pints of whole Cherry Tomatoes (or Grape Tomatoes)
  3. Toss Tomatoes in 2 tbsp Olive Oil and ½ tsp Coarse Salt and Cracked Black Pepper
  4. Spread evenly on a baking tray
  5. Roast at 400 F for 10-12 minutes
  6. While Tomatoes are roasting, boil 8oz of Whole Wheat Angel Hair Pasta until al dente
  7. In a large mixing bowl combine the following with tongs then serve
    • Cooked Pasta
    • 4oz prepared (or homemade) Garlic Pesto
    • The raw Zucchini Ribbons
    • The roasted Cherry Tomatoes
    • ½ tsp Red Pepper Flakes

 

Roasted Cherry Tomato and Raw Zucchini Ribbons Pesto Pasta

Organic Collard Greens

Peak Season    Best Flavor

If you believe what you read about the potential cancer prevention and cholesterol-reducing health benefits in Collard Greens, then it might be a good idea to start working them into your diet. In season Organically grown Collard Greens from Florida and California have been looking nice – big, broad, dark green leaves.  Sautéed, steamed, braised – what is your favorite healthy and flavorful preparation of Collards?

Juicing Recipe – Collard Cruise

If you’re doing some juicing at home here’s a great way to work nutrient-packed Collards into your diet. The citrus brightens the flavor and the apples sweeten it enough to enjoy. Use a juice extractor with the following items for 12-14oz juice.

  1. 3 stalks Collard Greens
  2. Handful of Parsley with stems
  3. 4 stalks Celery
  4. 1 Meyer Lemon with peel on. (or substitute 1 regular Organic Lemon mostly peeled)
  5. 2-3 tart-sweet Apples (I like Jazz, Pink Lady or Braeburn for this recipe)

Collard Cruise – dark greens sweetened with apples and brightened with cleansing lemon.

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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