Organic Picks of the Week 11/20/12

Best if Used By 11/27/12

Organic Picks of the week for November 20th, 2012 features
Butternut Squash, Anjou Pears, Russet Potatoes, Shallots, and Vine Ripe Tomatoes

Organic Butternut Squash

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

Ideal for soups and roasting, Organic Butternut Squash is the most popular of the Hard Squashes and a great choice for holiday cooking. It’s flesh is very moist and has a nutty flavor that falls somewhere between cooked carrots and sweet potato. The skin is typically peeled, but is actually edible. Simply remove the seeds and pulp from the bulbed end of the squash, chop it up it up and boil it to puree for a creamy soup – or toss the pieces with a little olive oil and seasoning, and roasted for 25-30 minutes at 450 degrees to bring out the best flavor.

Moist, flavorful Organic Butternut Squash is ideal for soups, steaming and roasting.

Peak season Organic Butternut Squash from East Coast and Mid-West farms continues to be in good supply. And because they’re so firm, they can be often be kept at room temperature on your counter for a few weeks. Select Butternut that are solid, free from stem-mold and that feel heavy for their size. A few scars on the skin will not impact flavor or eating quality. Rich in Vitamins, nutrients and anti-oxidants, these flavorful gourds need to be baked, boiled, roasted, microwaved or steamed to enjoy their yellow to orange flesh by itself or in recipes.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Cauliflower and Carrots

Organic Anjou Pears

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Classic. Approachable. Green Anjou Pears are good for just about any purpose – snacking, cooking, baking and salads. Their ripe flesh is creamy, juicy and quite sweet. Peak season Organic Green Anjou Pears are readily available during late Fall and early Winter. Have one for lunch or give some of these recipes a try!

Delightful, juicy, creamy, sweet… Organic Green Anjou Pears!

Anjou Pears don’t really change color as they ripen. So how do you know when they’re juicy-ripe? Check the neck. Gentle thumb pressure near the stem will clue you in to the firmness inside. A little give means they’ll be sweet and juicy – mmm!

Organic Russet Potatoes

PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED

One of the better deals in the organic produce department, Organic Russet Potatoes, are in peak season. That means reasonable prices on taters from prime organic growing regions in states like Colorado. Your best value can be found in 5lb bags. Though loose Organic Russets typically sell at a slightly higher price per pound than the bags, they’re still quite affordable and you’ll usually get a larger potato from those displays too.

Organic Russet Potatoes are a great value right now!

Seems like just about everyone has a favorite recipe, from the basics like Mashed Potatoes to fancier dishes like Potato Au Gratin – there are a ton of ways to love Russet Potatoes. Russets have lower moisture content than Red or Gold Potatoes making them fluffier (think baked or mashed), less likely to absorb oil (think fried or in casseroles) and easier to get crispy (think roasting and frying).

Mashed Potatoes recipes are a favorite for just about everyone at Thanksgiving. But if you want to impress your guests with some extra flavor, below is a delicious, creamy, homespun recipe my wife made that features the savory flavor of Parsnips whipped with fluffy Russet Potatoes and Sour Cream.

RECIPE: Sour Cream Mashed Parsnips & Potatoes

  • 4 Large Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 4 Parsnips, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • Boil for 30 – 35 min
  • Drain, then add to large mixing bowl
  • Add 4 tbsp butter, 1 cup of sour cream, salt and pepper to taste
  • Whip the contents of the bowl with a mixer
  • NOTE: whipping may take slightly longer than regular mashed potatoes

Sour Cream Mashed Parsnips & Potatoes

Organic Shallots

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Want some extra flare for your sautéed Brussels Sprouts or a refined flavor for the mirapoix (diced carrots, celery, onion cooked in butter) as the base of your stuffing mix? Use Shallots! Organic Shallots are in peak season right now from California and Canada, and are fantastic to use for fall recipes and holiday dishes.

Like a slightly spicy Onion that’s a little garlic-y and has tremendous flavor: Shallots!

Shallots taste somewhere between Red Onion and fresh Garlic – like a regular Yellow Onion with with more flavor, a little spiciness, and yet mild enough to use raw in viniagrettes or anywhere else you use Onions. Unlike Onions, tear-shaped Shallots don’t grow in one bulb, but a collection of “cloves” covered with brown to purple, papery skin. Select Organic Shallots that are firm and are free from strong odor or sprouting. Store Shallots in a cool, dark place like the pantry for a week or so, or on your kitchen counter for several days.

Organic Vine Ripe Tomatoes

PEAK SEASON

Slicing Tomatoes come in handy around the holidays for helping turn leftovers into amazing sandwiches and for quartering for salads. Good news! Organically grown Vine Ripe Tomatoes are now in peak season from Florida and California. Expect healthy-looking Organic Tomatoes with decent flavor from both regions.

You might need some in season FL or CA Organic Vine Ripe Tomatoes to help make your holiday leftovers sandwiches great.

Select Tomatoes that are free from wrinkled skin. They should have a little “give” when they’re red-ripe, but if they feel spongy that is a sign that they got too cold or are past their prime. Do NOT refrigerate your Tomatoes since it zaps their flavor and makes them soft. Room temperature is best.

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