Organic Picks | September 16th, 2014

Honeycrisp ApplesRed PeppersTomatillosSpaghetti SquashKitchen Tip of the Week

best if used by 09/23/14

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Organic Honeycrisp Apples

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Organically grown Honeycrisp Apples are now in season from Washington! Stay calm and snack on.

Explosively juicy. Crackingly crisp. Brightly flavorful – an amazing blend of sweet and tart that keeps you interested with every bite. Something to really look forward to each September through November – a seasonal treat. This is what Honeycrisp Apples are all about.

Organic Honeycrisps are, in fact, more expensive than other varieties because of the high demand plus they’re a tricky to grow, but the delectable eating experience is worth it for those with a passion for texture and flavor… and for organic growing methods. The Washington grown Organic Honeycrisp I’ve tried this season have been delicious, sweeter that than the early fruit from other seasons. Sure, you can juice them, bake and cook with Honeycrisps, but why would you when they’re so darn good for eating out of hand? There are plenty of other varieties that are perfectly good baking that cost a third less right now.

Tips & Hints

  • Select Apples that feel heavy for their size and are free from wrinkled skin, obvious punctures or large flat bruised areas.
  • Honeycrisp do not need to have all-red skin to be delicious, but if they’re completely green they’ll likely be more tart.
  • For the best shelf-life and texture, keep Apples in the dry-fruit drawer of your refrigerator until the day you’re ready to eat them.
  • Be gentle. Honeycrisp Apples can bruise easily, and bruises cause brown areas of flesh inside. They’re not rocks – they’re a fruit with easily damaged cells. Treat them with care and ask the check-out clerk to do the same.

One of the most exciting snacking apples is now in season. The Organic Honeycrisp Apple harvest is underway in Washington.


Organic Red Peppers

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Sweet Red Bell Peppers can do it all. They’re great sliced for raw snacking, roasted for deep flavor, sautéed for rich sweetness, chopped for a crisp raw topping, stuffed for a hearty meal, blended or juices for liquid nutrition – oh, the recipe ideas! Well, the good news is that it remains an outstanding time to choose Organic Red Bell Peppers since they are in peak season from multiple growing areas like organic greenhouses in Canada, Dominican Republic and Holland, plus field-grown product from California and local farms. Select Bell Peppers that have firm shoulders, feel heavy for their size and feature a vibrant appearance.

Here is a helpful site that explains in detail How to Roast Bell Peppers.

Organic Red Bell Peppers for salads or roasting are in peak season this month!

Organic Tomatillos

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Green salsa or salsa verde is not made from Green Tomatoes – it is made from flavorful Tomatillos. Tomatillos look like medium sized green Tomatoes with a husk on them. Peel the husk back and you can feel a sticky texture on smooth skin. Tomatillos are typically boiled or roasted then blended or mixed in whole as part of the recipe preparation. Roasting takes more time, but intensifies the flavor. Check out this collection of Tomatillo recipes for ideas and how-to.

Here in late summer and early fall Organic Tomatillos are in peak season from small farms in California. You may not find them in every produce department, but organic-centric stores with broad variety may have them in stock this month.

Specialty pick! California-grown Organic Tomatillos for salsa verde and other delicious dishes are in season. Peel the husk, then roast or boil for use in recipes.

Organic Spaghetti Squash

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

So why do they call it Spaghetti Squash? You really have to make it yourself to believe it, but the flesh of Spaghetti Squash comes out like pasta strands when it is cooked. How cool! The flavor is sweet and mild, and the texture is just slightly crunchy (al dente).  It doesn’t taste like pasta, but you can use cooked Spaghetti Squash in recipes just as you would for pasta –only this squash will offer more nutritional benefit, fiber and only about 40 calories per cup Spaghetti Squash.

Organic Spaghetti Squash is in peak season in many growing areas of the country like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Oregon and more now through November, making it one of the best time of the year to enjoy this unique hard squash at affordable prices and great quality. Select Spaghetti Squash that is firm and has a nice yellow skin color. Spaghetti Squash is prone to scarring while it grows, so do not be too concerned about those so long the squash is hard. As with other Hard Squashes, fresh Spaghetti Squash can stay good for up to several weeks at room temperature.

Recipe: Spaghetti Squash Casserole

This is a comforting and cheesy vegetarian dish without the carb-laden pasta guilt. Try it for Meatless Monday!

  1. Pre-heat Oven to 375 F
  2. Slice 1 Spaghetti Squash lengthwise, scoop out seeds and pulp
  3. Spray rimmed baking tray with olive oil cooking spray, place Spaghetti Squash cut-side down
  4. Bake at 375 F for 45 minutes or until tender
  5. Meanwhile, fold together the following in a large mixing bowl
    • 1 egg beaten
    • 2 cups Ricotta Cheese
    • 1 clove Garlic chopped finely
    • 6 fresh Basil leaves chopped finely
    • 3 cups Baby Spinach
  6. Season with ¾ tsp coarse salt and ¼ tsp black pepper
  7. Pull apart the Spaghetti Squash with a fork, gently stir it into the other ingredients
  8. Empty the contents of the bowl into an 8×8 casserole dish, spread evenly
  9. Layer 1 cup of Pasta Sauce evenly on top
  10. Top the casserole with 2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  11. Bake at 375 F for 25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown


Kitchen Tip of the Week

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

These two methods will help you enjoy delicious, low-calorie Spaghetti Squash as a side dish or prepared have it ready to use in a recipe.

Option 1 – Oven

  1. Cut the Spaghetti Squash in half lengthwise with a large sturdy knife on a stable cutting surface
  2. Remove the seeds and pulp from the center with a spoon
  3. Bake cut-side down in a rimmed baking tray at 375 F for 45-50 minutes until the squash is tender.
  4. Use a fork to gently pull out the spaghetti-like strands of flesh.  You may need to hold the hot squash in a towel or with tongs.

Option 2 – Microwave

  1. Cut the Spaghetti Squash in half lengthwise with a large sturdy knife on a stable cutting surface
  2. Remove the seeds and pulp from the center with a spoon
  3. MICROWAVE each half wrapped in plastic wrap for about 7-8 minutes, and then allow it to cool for a few minutes so you can handle it.
  4. Use a fork to gently pull out the spaghetti-like strands of flesh.  You may need to hold the hot squash in a towel or with tongs.

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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