Organic Picks of the Week 08/21/12

Best if Used By 08/28/12

Organic Picks of the week for August 21st, 2012 features
Fresh Figs, Red Potatoes, Black Grapes, Bartlett Pears, Plums
and a Bonus Garden Produce Recipe!

Organic Fresh Figs

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Late summer means peak season for Organic Fresh Figs from California’s sunny San Joaquin Valley. Most people have eaten Dried Figs, and likely in the form of a Fig Newton cookie. Is the flavor the same? Comparing dried Figs to fresh Figs is a bit like comparing the flavor of raisins to fresh Grapes – it’s similar, yet a very different eating experience. Ripe Fresh Figs have tender skin and a soft, gooey flesh, and can be eaten whole (except for the stem) or sliced into wedges. The fruit tastes sweet, rich and slightly earthy. Fresh Figs are excellent for eating whole as a snack, for desserts, or in sweet and savory baking recipes. Figs wrapped with bacon? Oh yea!

Organic Black Mission Figs. Soft = ripe!

Organically grown Fresh Figs can be found during August in three colors: Black, Brown and Green. They all taste about the same with only subtle differences. Dark-purple skinned Black Mission Figs have classic, earthy-sweet Fig flavor, and they are the main variety you can expect to see at natural food stores, co-ops and organic markets for the next several weeks. Light purple to black skinned Brown Turkey Figs are hearty and sweet. Green-skinned Calmyrnia and Kadota Figs are honey-sweet.

Be gentle! Fresh Figs are delicate. You can keep them at room temperature for a couple of days or in the fridge for maybe a week. Don’t be too concerned about skin scars, but avoid Figs with punctures or smashed areas. Fresh Figs are ripe and sweet when they become soft to a gentle squeeze. Soft is good. Give some a try and let me know what you think!

Organic Red Potatoes

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Clean, high quality Organic Red Potatoes grown in Washington state are in peak season right now. The tender skins are deep pink in color and the flesh is moist. Organic Red Potatoes are ideal for roasting, grilling, boiling and smashing recipes– all with the lovely skin still on.

Organic Red Potatoes are in season from Washington.

Organic Black Grapes

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Organic Green and Red Seedless Grapes are great right now indeed, but true snacking-grape connoisseurs appreciate the distinct sweet flavor and formidable crunch of the wonderful Organic Black Seedless Grape varieties that are in peak season from California in late summer. Expect crisp, long shaped torpedoes of flavor. Try some for a treat or in recipes!

Flavorful Organic Black Grapes are in peak season.

Organic Bartlett Pears

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Organic Bartlett Pears are back in season! – the ones with the classic light bulb shape. Bartlett Pears are the variety that shows you how ripe it is. Bright green skin means hard and crunchy-tart. Room temperature ripening turns them all the way to golden yellow skin, which means soft and juicy-sweet. Bartlett Pears have lots of familiar Pear flavor and taste sweeter as they ripen. They’re fantastic for fresh snacking, to eat with cheese, in salads and of course, in desserts. Harvests are happening at organic orchards in California right now, plus some of Washington’s organic orchards are beginning their crop too this week.

One for now (yellow). One for later (green).

Organic Plums

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

A good Plum is juicy and nicely sweet – perfect for desserts and snacking. How do you find a good one? Give Organic Black or Red Plums a try this week. They late summer varieties are in peak season from organic orchards in California. Select Organic Plums that don’t feel rock hard, but are also not soft and squishy. A little give is ideal. Store Plums at room temperature for a day or two, and once they begin getting soften you can get another couple days out of them in the fridge.

Organic Plums are worth a taste this month.

BONUS: Use up the Extra Garden Produce Recipe

It’s August. If you have a garden, are part of a CSA, or get carried away at the farmer market or produce department – chances are you have a lot of veggies on your counter or (maybe and) in your fridge. Way too many zucchini. A bunch of peppers. Eggplant too. Oh, and all those fresh chilis. Uhhh… hmmm. What to do? I decided the grill could provide a solution and pasta would seal the deal. Time for Spicy Grilled Veggie Pasta! This is a dish that does not need to be precise. Three components are the foundation: grilled vegetables of any kind, some heat and some pasta. Here’s how I made it this time.

Use up your garden excess with Spicy Grilled Veggie Pasta.

Spicy Grilled Veggies Pasta recipe

Veggies for grilling

  • 3 Green and 3 Yellow Zucchini, sliced on the bias into 1/2″+ slabs
  • 2 Red Bell Peppers, cut into length-wise into 1-2″ wide strips
  • 2 Gypsy Peppers (mini sweet peppers), seeded and halved length-wise
  • 1 Sicilian Eggplant, sliced into 1/2″ coin cuts
  • 3 cloves of peeled garlic, whole
  • 2 Jalapeno and 2 Serrano Peppers, whole
  • Toss above veggies in 2-3 tbsp olive oil in a large mixing bowl
  • Re-toss with favorite grill seasoning – I used Penzy’s Galena Street Rub (coarse salt, black pepper and garlic powder could be used instead)
  • Grill over high heat until veggies have nice grill-marks – about 3-4 min. per side
  • Place grilled veggies in large bowl
  • If using Chili Peppers, de-skin with paper towel, de-seed with knife and tongs

Pasta

  • Boil 1 box Rigatoni Pasta until al dente – about 12 min.
  • Drain water and return to large pot

Uncooked ingredients

  • Slice two large Tomatoes into bite-wedges (I used heirlooms – Beef Steak and Pink Brandywine)
  • Chop 6-9 leaves of fresh Basil
  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Blending

  • Stir grilled veggies into pasta
  • Stir in Parmesan Cheese
  • Stir in fresh Tomatoes and Basil

The hot grilled veggies and steaming pasta will warm up the fresh tomatoes without making them mushy – m-mmm! If you choose not grill your own chili peppers, simply add crushed red pepper to taste when doing the final blend.

Enjoy!

What is Organic Produce?

Certified Organic Produce meets a set of standards for growing, handling and labeling that is governed by the USDA’s National Organic Program. Organic fruits and vegetables are grown without the use synthetic chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers. The terms “Natural” and “Local” are not the same as “Organic.” Learn more about Organic.

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!