Organic Picks of the Week 02/27/12

Best if Used By 03/05/12

Organic Picks of the week for February 27th, 2012 features Asparagus, Gold Nugget Tangerines, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli and Mangos

1. Organic Asparagus

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

After a winter hiatus, Organically grown Asparagus is back! Packed with flavor, packed with vitamins and nutrients, Asparagus gets me thinking Spring. Mexico is harvesting crisp and reasonably priced Organic Asparagus right now. Asparagus can make meals exciting in many ways. Blanch it before adding it to a spring salad. Boil or steam it as a delicious green side dish, dressed simply with oil, butter, fresh herbs or a squeeze of lemon. Roast it in the oven with olive oil, balsamic or the juice from an orange, or grill it! No matter how you prepare fresh Asparagus – remember this rule to avoid mushiness from over cooking: high temperature for a short time. Enjoy!

Spring preview in a box, bunched with rubber bands.

ASPARAGUS INSIDER TIPS: People often wonder, Why is Asparagus displayed standing upright in water at some supermarkets? Asparagus, like the lily it is related to, can soak up water at the cut end, preventing wilt and keeping it fresh longer. Should you do that at home? Meh. I simply recommend wrapping a moist paper towel around the stem ends and storing the Asparagus in the refrigerator. When shopping for fresh Asparagus avoid bunches that have an odor, wrinkled spears, spread open tips or soft tips. Is the whole spear edible? Cut the tougher bottom portion of the spear off – usually the last 3/4″ to 1-1/2″. If you prefer the snap method, it takes more time but it does work too. Grab the bottom of the stem and the middle of the spear then bend – the Asparagus will snap where the woody portion ends.

2. Organic Gold Nugget Tangerines

BEST FLAVOR | PEAK SEASON

THIS is the must-eat fruit for fans of snackable Organic Citrus in late winter and early spring! In peak season right now from California, Organic Gold Nugget Tangerines are a larger-sized variety of Seedless Mandarin. They’re known for their dark orange skin that is often rough and pebbly – like a gold nugget, I suppose. The sweet flavor has been excellent, with a bright finish and lots of juiciness. Plus, Gold Nuggets are relatively easy to peel. Keep a pile at your desk and your kitchen counter.

Gold Nuggets!

3. Organic Brussels Sprouts

BEST FLAVOR | PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED

I’m all about Roasted Brussels Sprouts. So good! But I thought it was time to mix things up. Organic Brussels Sprouts continue to peak from Mexico with ample supplies, great flavor and some of the lowest prices of the season. The next week or so looks to be a good time to enjoy them. Brussels Sprouts look like mini cabbages that grow on long stalks. They taste nutty and rich, but if you over-boil or over-steam Brussels Sprouts you’ll actually bring out a sulfur nastiness that is the number one reason people don’t like them in the first place. A quick blanch and then saute or roasting them in high heat are great ways to bring out the best smooth and sweet flavor.

In the raw with Shaved Brussels Sprouts Slaw.

So, how did I “mix things up?” By going raw. I’ve been known to eat whole raw Brussels Sprouts right out of the box when I’m inspecting product at my work (crunch!), but I had never served raw Brussels Sprouts to my family before. I played around with this recipe this weekend and enjoyed the result!

RECIPE: Shaved Brussels Sprouts Slaw

  • Rinse and clean 1lb of fresh Organic Brussels Sprouts by removing loose outer leaves
  • Shave Organic Brussels Sprouts into 1/8″ shreds using a mandolin, food processor or nifty knife skills
  • Shave 1/2 an Organic Red Onion into 1/8″ shreds (soak slices in ice water for 10-20 min to soften the boldness, if desired)
  • Prepare Vinaigrette by whisking 3 tbsp Cider Vinegar, 1, tbsp Dijon Mustard, 6 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Season Vinaigrette with Coarse Salt, Cracked Pepper and 1/2 tsp Minced Garlic or Garlic Powder
  • Toss shreds with Vinaigrette and 1/2 cup Organic Raisins
  • Serve immediately

4. Organic Broccoli

PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED

It’s a good thing that there’s a spring-fed well of ideas and recipes for fresh Broccoli in cookbooks and online, because there’s an abundant supply of Organic Broccoli right now. Almost every major grower of Organic Broccoli in California and Arizona is discounting prices to move the bountiful harvests here in February and March. This creates the possibility of ad prices and in-store specials on high quality Organic Broccoli where you shop. Rock on! Raw for veggie trays, dipping and snacking, steamed as a healthy side, sauteed for richness, stir-fried with other vegetables or roasted for great flavor – what’s your favorite use for fresh Organic Broccoli? Here’s a zesty recipe to try this week!

Lemon Pepper Broccoli Blast

RECIPE: Lemon-Pepper Broccoli Blast

  • Pre-heat oven to 500 F
  • Rinse and cut 2 Organic Broccoli Crowns into large florets
  • Cut 1 Organic Lemon into slices
  • Squeeze the juice from the lemon ends onto the florets
  • Toss the florets and lemon slices in 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Season the florets with Lemon-Pepper seasoning (or just coarse salt and cracked pepper)
  • Roast at 500 F for 7-10 minutes until seared yet still al dente

Broccoli grows best in cool weather, and so it makes sense that Broccoli likes to stay quite cold after it is picked. This is why you often see Broccoli displayed on ice at the store. (NOTE: If the store you shop at stocks both conventional and organic Broccoli they should be merchandising the organic Broccoli separate or above the conventional so that there is not co-mingling from ice drip.) Keep your Broccoli refrigerated right up until you’re ready to eat it. Select Broccoli that has tight beads on the crown, is firm and has fresh, green cut ends. Avoid Broccoli that has a strong odor or is flabby and limp. You might be wondering… what is the difference between Broccoli and Broccoli Crowns? It’s all in the cut. Growers cut some Broccoli with the full stalk on and sell them in bunches, while other Broccoli is trimmed with the just the top – Broccoli Crowns. Are you a stem-n-all or just crowns person?

5. Organic Mangos

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

There are finally enough sweet Organic Mangos arriving to the States right now from Peru to drive prices back into affordability. Sweet! Might be time for a tropical snack, a smoothie, mango salsa or chutney, ya? NOTE: Skin color has nothing to do with ripeness. You’ll likely find Organic Kent variety Mangos that are completely green-skinned, but cut them open to discover creamy and sweet yellow-orange flesh. Allow your Mangos to ripen at room temperature until they give to gently thumb pressure. Slice on either side of the pit, score the flesh to the skin and flip out the goodness!

Kent. Kent Mango.

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!