Organic Picks of the Week 02/24/14

Best if Used By 03/03/14

Organic Picks of the week for February 24th, 2014 features
Cherry Tomatoes, Broccoli, Strawberries, Romaine Hearts, and Green Squash


Organic Cherry Tomatoes

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

Bursting with juice and noticeable tomato flavor, Organic Cherry Tomatoes are ideal as an ingredient tomato. Halved or whole for salads, blended into salsas, sautéed or roasted to intensify the flavor. Yes, you can snack on them, but they’re bigger and slightly more acidic than Grape Tomatoes. Organic vegetable growers in Florida like Lady Moon Farms are in a period of bumper harvests on this tomato variety right now. Keep an eye out for advertised or in-store specials!

Organic Cherry Tomatoes are in peak season from Florida!

RECIPE: Roasted Cherry Tomato and Raw Zucchini Ribbons Pesto Pasta

  • Using a mandolin or cheese grater, shred 2 Zucchini into pasta-like ribbons
  • Rinse 2 pints of whole Cherry Tomatoes
  • Toss Tomatoes in 2 tbsp Olive Oil and ½ tsp Coarse Salt and Cracked Black Pepper
  • Spread evenly on a baking tray
  • Roast at 400 F for 10-12 minutes
  • While Tomatoes are roasting add boil 8oz of Whole Wheat Angel Hair Pasta until al dente
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the following with tongs then serve
    • Cooked Pasta
    • 4oz prepared (or homemade) Garlic Pesto
    • Raw Zucchini Ribbons
    • Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
    • ½ tsp Red Pepper Flakes

Roasting Cherry Tomatoes intensifies their flavor – perfect as an ingredient in pasta.

TIPS

  • Do not refrigerate Tomatoes – of any variety. Cold makes them soft and zaps their flavor. Room temperature is best.
  • Select Cherry Tomatoes that appear firm, free from wrinkles and black spots, and have no wetness in the pack.
  • Cherry Tomato recipes from Lady Moon Farms.


Organic Broccoli

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED

Late February and early March are shaping up to be a great time to enjoy organically grown bunched Broccoli (with stalk) and Broccoli Crowns (stalk cut short). Organic farms in Arizona and California continue to have large bountiful harvest of fresh Broccoli. By the way you don’t need to throw those stems in the trash or composter. You can julienne cut them for Broccoli Slaw or to add to a stir-fry or pasta.

TIPS:

  • 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.
  • Here’s a list of 10 Family-friendly Broccoli Recipes from RealSimple.com

Roasted Organic Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli and Carrots

RECIPE: Roasted Broccoli, Sweet Potatoes and Carrots

  • 4 Carrots, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” pieces (Jewel, Garnet or Covington “Yams”)
  • 2 crowns of Broccoli, trimmed into 1-2” florets
  • Toss vegetables with 2 tbsp Olive Oil in a large mixing bowl
  • Season with ½ tsp Coarse Salt and ½ tsp Penzy’s Northwoods seasoning (rosemary-based), re-toss
  • Roast at 450F for 15 minutes
  • Flip, then roast for additional 15 minutes or until the Sweet Potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork


Organic Strawberries

PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR

There are finally large enough fresh crop harvests in Oxnard, California and Baja, Mexico right now to keep up with America’s demand for flavorful, red and ripe Organic Strawberries, well, at least late February and early March. (Things can change fast in the world of fresh Organic Berries.) With steadier supplies can come lower prices, so keep an eye out for ads and in-store specials here in March. The berries are dark red, firm and sweet enough to make you reach for more, and since they’re organic they’ve been grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers and chemicals.  Snacks, salads, desserts, smoothies… what will you do with those juicy, organically grown berries?

Organic Strawberries from Oxnard, California and Baja, Mexico are now in season!

TIPS:

  • At the store, inspect the packages from all sides, avoiding containers with wet spots on the berries or bottoms of the containers.
  • Look for plump, red berries with healthy looking, green caps.
  • Keep them cold in the fridge, but they’ll have better taste and texture if you use them within a couple days.
  • Wash Strawberries under cold water just before use.


Organic Romaine Hearts

PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED

Organic Romaine Hearts are crisp, juicy and clean right now. They are also more affordable than usual as organic growers in Arizona and California have had ideal weather, and therefore, plentiful production. Romaine Hearts are excellent for making crunchy salads or blending in with more tender bitter baby greens to add texture. The salad and recipe ideas abound.

Crisp and clean.


Organic Green Squash (Zucchini)

PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED

Yes! Organic Green Squash, also referred to as Organic Zucchini, is now affordable once again as new plantings are coming into season in Mexico! Sizing is on the small side, though that grade of Zucchini is preferred by many for its tender texture and less mature seeds. Enjoy the mild flavor of fresh Zucchini  julienned raw for salads or pastas, simply steamed, sautéed with oil and garlic, baked into pies and quiches, or cooked in stews and casseroles. Here are some interesting Zucchini Recipes. Select Green Squash that is firm, and is free from soft spots or open cuts.

Grilled Organic Green Squash Salad.

RECIPE: Grilled Organic Green Squash Salad

  • Pre-heat grill or stove-top grill-pan
  • Slice 3-4 Organic Green Squashes into long slabs about 1/4″ thick using a knife or mandolin
  • Toss Squash slabs in Olive Oil, season with coarse salt and black pepper
  • Grill Squash slabs over high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side to get grill marks
  • Allow grilled Squash to cool
  • Combine Squash with Arugula and 1/2 Red Onion thin-sliced
  • Toss with 1/4 cup Olive Oil & Vinegar Dressing (any garlic or balsamic-type vinaigrette)
  • Top with crumbled Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese (or Feta could be used)

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. Enjoy good, healthy food.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy