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Eat This Now for the Week of 04/23/15

onions

Eat This Now | April 23th, 2015

Vidalia Sweet OnionsFlorida Sweet CornSweet Bell PeppersSpecialty Mandarins

Best if used by 05/01/15

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Vidalia Sweet Onions

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Woohoo! Grilling season can officially begin now that Vidalia Sweet Onions are in season! There’s something about grilling and Sweet Onions that just fits. Grilled on kabobs with other veggies, grilled for topping your burger, even grilled as a thick slab that is topped with cheese for a vegetarian sandwich – the Grilled-Onion Cheese “burger.” Grilling and sautéing mellows the intensity of Sweet Onions and lets their sweetness shine through in a balanced way with their natural savoriness.

Raw Vidalia Sweet Onions are great even if they don’t make it to the grill. Vidalia Sweet Onions are excellent on salads and in sandwiches. There is lots of flavor without the full pungency of Yellow Onions that burns your nose and makes your eyes water. Now don’t get me wrong… it’s still an onion and there will be some “bite” to the taste, especially when eaten raw here in April. Though as the season progresses, the Vidalias become even more mild. Fresh Vidalia Sweet Onions will remain in peak season through July and retailers will promoted them frequently.

What makes these onions special? Vidalia Sweet Onions are from the rich soils of Georgia in and around Vidalia County where conditions are superb for growing mild, saucer-shaped Sweet Onions. The timing of the crop coincides perfectly with picnic and grilling season during late Spring and early Summer for those of us on the East Coast.

Vidalia Onion Tips

  • Select Sweet Onions that are free from soft spots. Yes, the outer skin will flake off and may look ugly, but that is what a fresh-crop Sweet Onion is like.
  • Use Vidalias within a week of purchase so they don’t spoil. Since the Vidalias in April and May are a “fresh onion” (not allowed to cure and form a tough outer skin layer) they will not hold up as long in your pantry as a regular Yellow Onion.
  • Find helpful info and tons of recipes here at VidaliaOnion.org

Scrambled Eggs served with Grilled seasoned Vidalia Sweet Onion and topped with fresh Cilantro.

 

Grilling mellows the bite and brings out the sweetness in Vidalia Sweet Onions.

 

Florida Sweet Corn

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

What is Sunshine Sweet Corn? It is spring crop Corn grown in Florida using supersweet varieties designed for great flavor using traditional breeding techniques – not GMO (genetic modification). Growers in Florida are now harvesting their peak Spring crop.  This is allowing retailers to begin promoting Sweet Corn with in store and advertised specials. Fire up the grill! White, Yellow or Bi-Color varieties which are all eating good – nice flavor, good sweetness and a juicy and tender texture. You’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between them in a blind taste-test.

Recipe: Grill-Steamed Sweet Corn with Dill-Butter

  1. Prepare the seasoned Butter
    • Allow 4 tbsp of Salted Butter to soften a room temperature
    • Finely chop a handful of fresh Dill
    • Smash chopped Dill into Butter with a fork
  2. Pre-heat Grill to high
  3. Remove loose outer leaves and trim the top-silks off of 6 ears of Sweet Corn
  4. Rinse the husks with water to add some moisture
  5. Grill for 10 minutes covered over high heat, flipping 1-2 times.
  6. Remove from heat and husk it just before serving
  7. Spread Dill-Butter onto husked Corn or serve it as a condiment

 

  Sweet Corn How-To

  • Selecting: Choose Sweet Corn that feels full up and down the cob and has green husks.
  • Storage: Sweet Corn will last in your fridge for over a week, but will dehydrate and lose flavor every day it sits – so try to use it right away.
  • Boil: Over-cooking Sweet Corn can lead to toughness and less flavor. 3-5 minutes in boiling water is really all it takes for perfect Sweet Corn on the Cob.
  • Grill: Grill for 8-11 minutes (vary time by the thickness of the ears), flipping 1-2 times. Boiling Sweet Corn is fine, but those pesky strings of silk are so much easier to remove when it’s already been steamed in the husk. The husk will look burnt, but when you let the Corn cool for a couple minutes so it is able to be handled – you’ll find husking it is a breeze. Plus the Corn will be perfectly steamed and have a hint of smoky flavor.
  • Microwave: Microwave on high in the husk for 4-6 minutes. If fresh corn is already husked, wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave on high for about 5 minutes.
  • Recipes: Get a broad spectrum of mouth-watering Sweet Corn recipes at sunshinesweetcorn.com

Fresh, yet luxurious Dill-infused Butter can take Sweet Corn from picnic side to picnic WOW!

 

Grill-Steaming Corn in the husk makes it easy to de-silk and adds a smoky flavor.

Sweet Bell Peppers

Peak Season    Best Flavor

Sweet Bell Peppers are excellent this time of year – thick, solid walls; crisp, juicy texture; and sweet, delicious flavor! Why? New, healthy pepper plants in the sophisticated greenhouses of Canada, US and Holland are producing gorgeous, high quality peppers. Red, Yellow and Orange Bell Peppers in that classic, blocky bell shape are all in season.  And as harvest volumes increase prices will begin to drop on these premium and versatile veggies.

Since Sweet Bell Peppers are so sweet and crisp are always a hit sliced and served raw with dip or hummus for healthy snacking. They’re perfect for stuffing and slicing.  Colorful, greenhouse-grown Sweet Bell Peppers are also excellent when roasted, sautéed or grilled!

Sweet Bell Pepper Tips

Greenhouse grown

Specialty Mandarins

Peak Season    Best Flavor

First the bad news. California Mandarins, particularly the Murcott variety (think Halos, Smile and Cuties brands), are just about finished up for the season and won’t be back until next fall when the Clementine and Satsuma varieties start up.

Now the good news! During late April and into May there are three specialty Mandarin varieties that I am very excited about! They are not large volume crops and you won’t find them everywhere, but if your store stocks one of these varieties – I’d highly recommend them. HUGE FLAVOR!

Orri Mandarins

Super juicy, sugary sweet with big citrus flavor is the best way to describe Orri Mandarins. You will occasionally find 2 or 3 small seeds in some of the mandarins. The fruit is grown near the Sea of Galilee in Israel. They are typically branded as “Jaffa” Clementines or “Jaffa Orri Mandarins”. I’ve eat 14 so far this week!
 

Pixie Tangerines

Grown by a small group of farming families in the Ojia Valley of California between Santa Barbara and Ventura, Ojia Pixie Tangerines are small seedless Mandarins with full-throttle sweet citrus flavor. The fruit has medium juiciness, which adds to the intensity of taste. Pixie’s are a true late season treat!
 

Gold Nugget Mandarins

Gold Nugget Mandarins, a late season variety grown in California, are deep orange in color and appear pebbled and bumpy – like a nugget of gold, I suppose, and peel fairly easily. Inside this virtually seedless mandarin the orange-gold flesh is sweet and juicy. They’re acidic enough to be bright, yet richly sweet, making them an excellent snacking variety for both kids and adults.
 

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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