Organic Picks of the Week 02/20/12

Best if Used By 02/27/12

Organic Picks of the week for February 20th, 2012 features:
Cara Cara Oranges, Oriental Sweet Potatoes, Rainbow Carrots, Bosc Pears and Green Squash

1. Cara Cara Oranges

BEST FLAVOR | PEAK SEASON

“I have the Powerrrr!”
Pop-eye had Spinach. He-Man must have eaten Cara Cara Oranges, because they’re often called The Power Orange. Why? Cara Cara Oranges are like regular Navel Oranges, only with – more flavor, more sweetness, more anti-oxidants, more Lycopene and an energetic pink flesh! The juicy sweetness is balanced by a tangy, Cranberry-like finish. You’ve gotta try these, it’s a really exciting fruit!

Lycopene makes 'em pink. Flavor makes 'em nom, nom, nom...

Organic Cara Cara Navel Oranges continue to be in peak season from California and will be readily available through March. Expect to pay a little more for Organic Cara Cara’s than you would for regular Organic Navel Oranges, but if you’re into big flavor it’s worth it! Select Oranges that feel heavy for their size. Avoid soft spots and discolored patches, but don’t sweat the scars on the skin since they have no impact on the flavor inside. For best freshness, store Cara Cara Oranges in the refrigerator until a day or two before you’re ready to eat them… er, I mean, until you’re ready to feel the Power!

2. Organic Oriental Sweet Potatoes

BEST FLAVOR

Most people can immediately conjure up in their mind the earthy-sweet flavor and moist flesh texture of orange-fleshed Beauregard, Covington, Garnet and Jewel variety Sweet Potatoes (commonly called Yams). But have you tried Oriental Sweet Potatoes, also called Japanese Sweet Potatoes? The largest grower of Organic Sweet Potatoes in the country, based in California, is shipping high quality, high flavor Organic Oriental Sweet Potatoes right now. Oriental Sweets have purple skin, white flesh that is drier than other Sweet Potatoes, and have a richly sweet and lightly nutty flavor. Yum – they taste fantastic! Organic Oriental Sweet Potatoes are less suited for whipping, soups, or casseroles, but they are perfect for baking, roasting, grilling and pan-frying because they holder their shape. Here’s how I ate mine this weekend:

RECIPE: Grilled Organic Oriental Sweet Potato Salad

  • Pre-heat grill or grill-pan
  • Slice 2 large Organic Oriental Sweet Potatoes into 1/2″ thick medallions
  • Toss Slices with Olive Oil, season with coarse salt and black pepper
  • Grill Sweet Potato slices over high heat for 4-6 minutes on the first side, 3-4 minute over lower heat for opposite side until tender
  • Allow grilled Sweet Potato to cool
  • Cut grilled Sweet Potato medallions into strips or cubes
  • Combine with Organic Baby Spinach (dried cranberries and pine nuts or walnuts would also be nice)
  • Toss with favorite Vinaigrette Dressing

Sweet, nutty Grilled Oriental Sweet Potatoes with earthy, fresh Baby Spinach.

3. Organic Rainbow Carrots

BEST FLAVOR

How cool do these Organic Rainbow Carrots look? They’re just begging to be sauteed, roasted or shaved into a salad! The Purple Carrots are extra high in beta-carotene, the Yellow Carrots are mild, the White Carrots are rustic, and I believe you’re familiar with the Orange Carrots. Now is a great time to pick up a bunch of Organically grown Rainbow bunched Carrots since California growers are in a stretch of great quality. What would you make with them?

Color. Cool!

4. Organic Bosc Pears

BEST FLAVOR

Sweet, firm flesh, long neck, russeted brown skin, rustic beauty – Bosc Pears are different, and good! Their honey-sweet flavor and delightful texture make them perfect for snacking, salads and desserts. Unlike many other Pears, Bosc do not need to ripen as much to taste sweet so even a little “give” near the stem will mean ripe flesh. Or you can eat Bosc as a crunchy treat as soon as you buy them. Storage Organic Bosc Pears from the Pacific Northwest’s late fall harvest continue to arrive at stores and are eating fantastic. Try some this week.

Honey-sweet and crisp.

5. Organic Green Squash

VALUE PRICED | BEST FLAVOR

Yes! Organic Green Squash, also referred to as Organic Zucchini, is now affordable once again and should continue to stay that way for several weeks! The price drops at wholesale are driven as certified organic growers in Mexico begin to see harvest yields that have caught up with demand due to good weather. Quality looks great – thin dark green skin, firm yet tender flesh, mild flavor. Speaking of mild, it was sunny and in the high 40s here on Sunday so got the family together and fired up the grill! Why not? Among the veggies to get the grill treatment were the Organic Green Squash for a salad:

RECIPE: Grilled Organic Green Squash Salad

  • Pre-heat grill or grill-pan
  • Slice 3-4 Organic Green Squashes into long slabs about 1/4″ thick using a knife or mandolin
  • Toss Squash slabs in Olive Oil, season with coarse salt and black pepper
  • Grill Squash slabs over high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side to get grill marks
  • Allow grilled Squash to cool
  • Combine Squash with Arugula and 1/2 Red Onion thin-sliced
  • Toss with 1/4 cup Olive Oil & Vinegar Dressing (any garlic or balsamic-type vinaigrette)
  • Top with crumbled Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese (or Feta could be used)

Grilled Organic Green Squash Salad.

Buy Smart. Shop Healthy. Live Organic.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

Forward this to a friend if you think they’ll like it – Here’s to fresh!