Organic Picks of the Week 04/16/13

Best if Used By 04/30/13

Organic Picks of the week for April 16th, 2013 features
Zucchini, Crimini Mushrooms, Anjou Pears, Romaine Lettuce/Hearts and Pineapples


Organic Zucchini

PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED

Green Squash, often called Zucchini, is now in season from organic farms in both Florida and Mexico. And when Zucchini comes into a period of peak harvest the plants produce like crazy! Keep an eye out for better availability, lower retail prices and maybe even some sale pricing during the rest of April.

So, what to do with all of that tender, moist Organic Zucchini this month? Low calorie Zucchini is good in sweet and savory recipes like stir-fries, quiches and pastas. Here’s a cool Zucchini bread recipe featuring applesauce. Or, if the weather is nice – GRILL IT!  The charring adds a smoky flavor and the dry air, flame heat draws out the moisture of this soft squash, especially when it has been seasoned with salt.

Is it time to grill yet? In season Organic Zucchini says YES!

RECIPE: Zucchini-bobs

  • Pre-heat grill to high
  • Soak bamboo skewers in water
  • Slice 4 Zucchini on the bias in ½” width
  • Slice 1 Yellow or Sweet Onion into 1”x2” pieces
  • Slice 2 Sweet Red Peppers into 1”x2” pieces
  • Combine veggies in bowl and toss with 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Season with coarse salt, cracked black pepper and garlic powder – re-toss
  • Arrange the seasoned veggies onto the skewers
  • Grill for 4-5 minutes and flip, grill for another 3-5 minutes until the veggies are tender

Organic Crimini Mushrooms (Baby Bella)

BEST FLAVOR

Ideal for adding a rich, earthy flavor to pastas, pizzas, salads and stir-fry’s – Baby Bella Mushrooms are a popular, healthy and versatile choice for your recipes. Baby Bellas, also called Crimini Mushrooms, are basically a Portabella Mushroom that has not fully matured and opened up its gills. Since they’re grown inside, Organic Mushrooms are always in season. Perhaps you could try Organic Baby Bella Mushrooms in a Meatless Monday recipe, or toss them with Onions and Peppers in oil and seasoning to throw on the grill until tender and seared.

Did you know that my home state of Pennsylvania is one of top Organic Mushroom producing regions of the US?

Grilled and seasoned Baby Bella Mushrooms, Bell Peppers and Sweet Onions served over Spaghetti.

Organic Anjou Pears

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Classic. Approachable. Green Anjou Pears are good for just about any purpose – snacking, pairing with cheese, cooking, juicing, baking, poaching and salads. Their ripe flesh is creamy, juicy and can be quite sweet. Peak season has begun for Organic Green Anjou Pears from Argentina where it is now fall.

Check the neck for ripeness on Organic D’Anjou Pears.

Anjou Pears don’t really change much 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! Ripen hard pears at room temperature. Speed it up by putting the pears in a paper bag. Once they’re ripe you can keep them at that state for a few extra days by putting them in the fridge.

Organic Romaine Lettuce and Hearts

PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED | BEST FLAVOR

One of the ultimate salad starters for nutritional content, flavor-texture combinations and ease of use in a broad range of recipes – Organic Romaine Lettuce is now in a peak season time of large harvests from new fields in California growing areas, as well as from Florida. Romaine Lettuce’s dark green leaves and crisp ribs are packed with Vitamin A, K and C, plus folate. Organic Romaine Hearts – the smaller, tighter, crunchier heads packed into 3ct bags, are likely to be priced at a value for the remainder of this April.

Romaine Lettuce plus Baby Bella Mushroom and Sweet Red Peppers hand-tossed with Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Select Romaine Lettuce that feels sturdy and heavy. It will keep for several days in your crisper, but loses moisture content over time and becomes more bitter – so use it sooner than later. Romaine Leaves can be torn or chopped into pieces for Caesar-style salads. Or chiffon-cut Romaine into thin ribbons by stacking the leaves in a pile to make thin cross slices. Make crunchy salads or blend Romaine and Romaine Hearts in with more tender bitter baby greens to add texture.

Organic Romaine Lettuce and Organic Romaine Hearts are excellent for juicing since they’re packed with so much nutritious liquid!

JUICING RECIPE: Tangy Green-Clean Juice (juice the following in a juice extractor)

  • 1 washed Romaine Heart
  • 1 Seedless Cucumber (or 1 mostly peeled regular field cucumber)
  • 2 Limes, partially peeled
  • 3 medium tart Apples like Granny Smith

Tangy Green-Clean Juice: Tastes like limeade, delivers nutrition of several salads.

Organic Pineapples

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

Woohoo!  It’s been several months, but there are finally enough supplies here in late April of certified Organic Pineapples being harvested in Costa Rica to keep up with the strong demand that exists for the fruit. Each Organic Pineapple takes about 18-24 months to grow, but they’re worth the wait.

Vitamin C, B1 and B6, manganese, copper and fiber – oh, yeah and Pineapple tastes delicious!

TIPS:

  • Select Pineapples that feel firm, appear vibrant, have a sweet aroma and have fresh looking tops since even the super sweet varieties of gold-fleshed Organic Pineapples tend to have a green-cast to the shell.
  • Pineapples won’t get much sweeter once they’re picked, just older, so don’t let it sit there on the counter as until it turns soft and brown.
  • Snacking, for juicing blends, salads, desserts – oh the ideas! Here’s a Pineapple recipe collection from EatingWell.com
  • Need a refresher on how to carve a pineapple? Watch here.

READER NOTE:

The Produce Geek is going on vacation! We’ll be back with our next fresh post on Tuesday 04/30/13. Oh, and enjoy Earth Day on Monday 04/22 – a good day to contemplate why sustainable agriculture and intentional food choices are important.

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