Organic Picks of the Week 09/30/13

Best if Used By 10/07/13

Organic Picks of the week for September 30th, 2013 features
Spaghetti Squash, Fuji Apples, Granny Smith Apples, Cilantro
and Pineapples


Organic Spaghetti Squash

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

So why do they call it Spaghetti Squash? You really have to make it yourself to believe it, but the flesh of Spaghetti Squash comes out like pasta strands when it is cooked. How cool! The flavor is sweet and mild, and the texture is just slightly crunchy (al dente).  You can use Spaghetti Squash in recipes just as you would for pasta –only this squash will offer more nutritional benefit and only about 40 calories per cup Spaghetti Squash.

Cooked Spaghetti Squash pulls apart in tender strands that can be used like Spaghetti.

Organic Spaghetti Squash is in peak season in many growing areas of the country now through November, making it one of the best time of the year to enjoy this unique hard squash at affordable prices and great quality. Select Spaghetti Squash that is firm and has a nice yellow skin color. Spaghetti Squash is prone to scarring while it grows, so do not be too concerned about those so long the squash is hard. As with other Hard Squashes, fresh Spaghetti Squash can stay good for up to several weeks at room temperature.

That’s not pasta in there, it’s nutrient-rich, low-calorie Spaghetti Squash!

PREPARATION:

  • Halve Spaghetti Squash lengthwise
  • Remove the seeds and pulp from the center with a spoon
  • BAKE cut-side down in a rimmed baking tray at 375 F for 45-50 minutes until the squash is tender.
  • Or MICROWAVE each half wrapped in plastic wrap for about 7-8 minutes, and then allow it to cool for a few minutes so you can handle it.
  • Use a fork to gently pull out the spaghetti-like strands of flesh.  You may need to hold the hot squash in a towel or with tongs.

RECIPE: Spaghetti Squash Casserole

This is a comforting and cheesy vegetarian dish without the carb-laden pasta guilt.  Try it for Meatless Monday!

  • Pre-heat Oven to 375 F
  • Slice 1 Spaghetti Squash lengthwise, scoop out seeds and pulp
  • Spray rimmed baking tray with olive oil cooking spray, place Spaghetti Squash cut-side down
  • Bake at 375 F for 45 minutes or until tender
  • Meanwhile, fold together the following in a large mixing bowl
    • 1 egg beaten
    • 2 cups Ricotta Cheese
    • 1 clove Garlic chopped finely
    • 6 fresh Basil leaves chopped finely
    • 3 cups Baby Spinach
    • Season with ¾ tsp coarse salt and ¼ tsp black pepper
  • Pull apart the Spaghetti Squash with a fork, gently stir it into the other ingredients
  • Empty the contents of the bowl into an 8×8 casserole dish, spread evenly
  • Layer 1 cup of Pasta Sauce evenly on top
  • Top the casserole with 2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Bake at 375 F for 25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown

Vegetarian comfort food: Spaghetti Squash Casserole.

Organic Fuji Apples

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

You like sweets? Like crisp Apples? You’ll love Organic Fuji Apples. They are now in peak season from the Pacific Northwest!  Nicely crisp, fine-flesh textured, impressively juicy, mildly aromatic – those are all great eating characteristics for an Apple, but it’s the sweetness that sets the Fuji variety apart.

Fuji Apples are not only awesome for snacking, they add texture to salads, complement cheeses and pair well Asian flavors in cooking. If you’ve got a juicer, Fuji’s can bolster sweetness in just about any green juice or vegetable juice blend plus add lots of liquid. Vitamix and smoothie enthusiasts also appreciate the Fuji variety for adding sweetness to green smoothies.

The Sweetest! Organic Fuji Apples are ideal for snacking and salads, and are excellent for juicing to add sweetness and liquid volume to Green Juices.

TIPS:
Skin color can range from almost solid red with a few green streaks to mostly light green with a few red streaks and small brown flecks, but either way has little impact on flavor.

Select Fuji Apples that feel firm, are free from skin wrinkles or large bruises (round discolored spots) and store them in the refrigerator until the day prior to eating to maintain crispness.

Organic Granny Smith Apples

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

You like some tartness? Like crunchy Apples? You’re probably already a fan of Organic Granny Smith Apples. On the apple flavor spectrum at the opposite end from sweet Fuji, Granny Smith are about as tart as the varieties get. There are times when being at the extremes wins you fans and that is surely the case for Granny Smith Apples. One of the later varieties to come off trees each fall, peak season has now begun for Washington grown Organic Granny Smith Apples.

The Most Tart! Organic Granny Smith Apples are good for sweet baking, savory cooking and keep the “green” in green juices.

Green skinned, firm and tart Granny Smith Apples are fantastic paired with rich and savory ingredients in cooking like cheddar cheese, salty meats, salads, sweet potatoes and hard squashes. For baking, they add acidic balance to desserts and hold their shape. For juicing, they add fresh, sweet-tart flavor and keep a nice green color for green juices. And of course, there are those who prefer tart Apples for snacking… they love Granny’s.

Organic Cilantro

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

The herb green that ties the world together – in Latin, Tex-Mex, Indian, Caribbean, Chinese, East Asian, African, Southern European and even Scandinavian cuisines – is Cilantro. Cilantro leaves are packed with a strong, distinctive fresh flavor and aroma. Fresh Organic Cilantro adds freshness and vibrancy to recipes for salads, salsas, stews, stir-fries, sauces and garnish. Organic Cilantro is also used in some “green juice” recipes too. In-season Organic Cilantro is available this month from California and some growers have large enough harvests to allow for special pricing on the shelf.

Recipes get brightness and vibrancy from fresh Cilantro!

Organic Pineapples

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

Organic Pineapples from the tropical climate of Costa Rica are coming into a brief period of improved supply! Expect better prices on Organic Pineapples big to small. Pineapples are loaded with Vitamin C, B1 and B6, manganese, copper and fiber – oh, yeah they taste delicious! 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.

Sweetness from the Pineapple, freshness from the Pepper – a surprisingly refreshing Green Juice.

JUICING RECIPE: Pineapple-Pepper Green Juice

  • Juice the following in a juice extractor
  • 2 fistfuls of Baby Spinach
  • 1 Orange, peeled
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, seed cavity removed
  • ½ Pineapple, peeled but not cored
  • 1 tart Apple like Granny Smith

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.

Eat in-season. Choose organic.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy