Best if Used By 03/11/14
Eat This Now for the week of March 4th, 2014 features
Sweet Mini Peppers, Seedless Mini Cucumbers, Florida Strawberries, Fennel, and Green Beans
Sweet Mini Peppers
BEST FLAVOR | PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED
Sweet Mini Peppers are like the “Baby Carrots” of the Pepper category. These lil’ babies are awesome, convenient and versatile! Sweet Mini Peppers are in fact sweet, plus they’re crunchy, bite-sized and delicious. Simply rinse them with water and they’re ready to snack on raw. Slice the top off and pull out the easy-to-remove seed core and you’re ready to stuff, grill or roast them! One to four inches long and a mix of Red, Yellow and Orange colors, Sweet Mini Peppers typically come packed in 8oz pint containers or 1lb bags. The Organic and Conventional crops in Mexico are at their peak and the large harvests of high quality product are allowing retailers to sell at the lowest prices of the season here in March! Try some!
3 BEST things to do with Sweet Mini Peppers:
- Raw for a crunchy, Vitamin C-rich snack – they’re quite sweet!
- Roast or grill with oil-salt-pepper for a savory side
- Stuff them with guacamole, hummus or seasoned cream cheese for a fun raw or cooked appetizer.
- Fiesta Stuffed Mini Peppers
- Pesto Shrimp Stuffed Sweet Baby Peppers
- Sweet Pepper Poppers Appetizer
- Easy Roasted Sweet Mini Peppers
Seedless Mini Cucumbers
BEST FLAVOR | PEAK SEASON | VALUE PRICED
Ever try Seedless Mini Cucumbers? They’ve become more popular with fresh veggie lovers and more readily available on produce department shelves recently. Why? You eat them whole! Sure you can cut the ends off, but really – no prep other than a quick rinse in water is needed. The skins on these 4-5” Cukes are thin and less bitter than field Cucumbers. The mild flavor and crunch will be appreciated by the whole family. Plus, they’re a seedless, juicy, healthy and fun snack.
March will be an excellent time to enjoy Seedless Mini Cucumbers from Canadian and Mexican greenhouses since both regions are in season. Typically sold in tray packs or bags, you may find them branded as “Crunchers,” “Persian Pickles,” “One Sweet Mini Cucumbers” or “Mini Cukes.”
RECIPE: Mini Cucumber Parsley-Cream Cheese Stacks
- Slice Seedless Mini Cucumbers into 1” segments
- Spoon a small dollop of whipped Cream Cheese onto one end
- Lightly season with coarse salt and cracked black pepper
- Chop a few sprigs of Parsley and sprinkle onto the cheese
VALUE PRICED | PEAK SEASON
Southern California just got pounded with a season’s worth of rain in one weekend, setting their Strawberry crop back a bit. But down in Florida? Well, there weather conditions have allowed for bumper late winter harvests fresh Strawberries. Prices on Florida grown Strawberries are at the most affordable point of the season. Watch for ads and in-store specials during the first half of March.
How do the Florida Strawberries taste? Flavor is decent and the berries are firm, but may not all be exactly perfect looking. If you compare them to local summer berries or to premium late Spring Strawberries from California – you’ll be disappointed. If you want an affordable fresh berry to throw in your yogurt, cereal, smoothie or salad? No worries, they won’t cost you an arm and a leg to enjoy some fresh fruit. Keep Strawberries refrigerated and wash just before use. This time of the year it is wise to use the fruit soon after purchase. Fresher = Better.
- At the store, inspect the packages from all sides avoiding containers with mold, sunken spots, wetness on the berries or bottoms of the containers.
- Look for plump, fully 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.
PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR
Also referred to as Anise, Fennel has a distinctive licorice flavor that softens and sweetens during cooking. The texture is similar to Celery without the stinginess. Shaved Fennel bulb can be used raw in salads for a delicious crunch. Roasting sliced or wedged Fennel brings out a rich sweetness and sautéing Fennel brings out luxurious caramelization. A cool weather vegetable, the spring crop of Organic and Conventional Fennel is now coming into peak season from California this month.
- Select Fennel that has a clean, firm, white bulb and healthy-looking green tops.
- Store Fennel in the fridge crisper for up to 1-3 days, in a bag for 2-4 days.
- Remove the stems and green fronds, slice the bulb in half, remove the fibrous heart, then slice away!
- But don’t throw away all the fronds since they can be used as a fresh herb or garnish.
PEAK SEASON | BEST FLAVOR | VALUE PRICED
Spring plantings of Green Beans are coming into season from farms in the Homestead, Florida area! Expect more affordable prices and better quality than has been available the past couple of months.
- From bulk displays, select Green Beans that feel firm and snappy.
- Store them in a sealed bag or container in the refrigerator for up to a few days.
- Fresh Green Beans in microwave-able bags that are pre-washed and already have the ends trimmed have become quite popular as a time saver. Those beans are also coming from Florida farms right now.
Need a break from casserole? Not all recipes for fresh Green Beans need to be served warm. Cold Green Bean salads use the blanching method (boil for 3-4 minutes then immediately cool them in an ice-water bowl) to keep the beans firm and bright green. Here’s a cool and crunchy, light yet creamy Cold Green Bean Salad recipe to have fun with.
RECIPE: Creamy-Cool Green Bean and Tomato Salad
- Wash and trim the ends of 1lb fresh Green Beans
- Blanch Beans for 3-4 minutes in boiling salted water
- Shock the Beans in a bowl of ice water or by running them under cold water
- Add 1 tbsp Olive Oil and 2 heaping tbsp Sour Cream to a large mixing bowl
- Season above to taste with salt, pepper and Italian herb mix – stir these into a dressing
- Chop 1 bunch Scallions
- Slice 2 Salad Tomatoes (like On-the-Vine) into small wedges
- Gently stir in Green Beans, Tomato and Scallions with tongs until coated
- Refrigerate salad for 1 hour to allow flavors to combine
- Serve cold over torn Romaine leaves
Eat in-season. Choose fresh. Enjoy good, wholesome food.
The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy