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Eat This Now for the Week of 03/03/15

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Eat This Now | March 3rd, 2015

Red PotatoesGreen GrapesSeedless Mini CucumbersAsparagusKitchen Tip of the Week

Best if used by 03/10/15

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Red Potatoes

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Smashed Red Potatoes, Boiled Red Potatoes with Butter, Roasted Red Potatoes and Herbs… what’s your cold weather Red Potato recipe of choice? Red Potatoes are ideal for roasting, boiling for salads and mashing because of their high moisture content. For frying? Not so much.

No peeling! The best part about Red Potatoes is that you’re supposed to eat them with the skins on. Simply wash, cut and cook. Baby Red potatoes don’t even need the cutting step. Dinner prep time win!

Fresh crop Red Potatoes from Florida are beautiful this March with thin, tender skins and vibrant color. They are typically sold loose by the pound. Storage crop Red Potatoes from Idaho and other western states are what you’ll find in most 5lb bags, which many retailers are promoting on ad specials. Savings – yay! These reds have nice quality too, just with slightly darker burgundy skins.

Store Potatoes in a dry, cool, dark place. The refrigerator, however, is too cold for storing Potatoes and may mess with their starch to sugar ratios inside the potato which can create a grainy texture once cooked.

Recipe: Cozy Roasted Red Potatoes and Sweet Onions

This warm and inviting recipe will have your kitchen smelling fantastic as the cold weather persists here in late winter!

  1. Chop 5 large size washed Red Potatoes into bit size pieces, leaving the skins on.
  2. Peel then rough chop 1 Sweet Onion
  3. Toss Onion and Red Potatoes in 3 tbsp Olive Oil in a large mixing bowl
  4. Season with 2 tsp Penzy’s Northwoods Seasoning, re-toss to coat (a blend of dried rosemary, thyme, paprika, coarse salt, black pepper could be a homemade substitute)
  5. Spread out in 9×13 glass pan or casserole dish.
  6. Roast at 375 F for about 60 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes for the first ½ hour. The potatoes are done when they can easily be pierced by a fork.

 

Cozy Roasted Red Potatoes and Sweet Onions

Green Grapes

Peak Season    Best Flavor

The Red Flame variety of Seedless Grape from Chile was a pick I recommended a couple of weeks ago. Those still taste good, but the shelf life is becoming shorter on that variety at this point in the season and I’ve been bring Green Grapes home for the kids this week. Flavor is more sweet than tangy and the berries have some crunch. You can expect to find sweet-eating peak season Green Seedless Grapes from Chile in stores the next several weeks. There is unlikely to be a major flush accompanied by super cheap prices this season on Green Grapes though, as the crop has fallen short of growers’ original volume expectations. Still, now is a great time to get some for you and your family to snack on.

What does it mean when the Grapes are more yellowish than green? In my experience, yellow hue indicates a very sweet eating berry – yum! But keep Green Grapes refrigerated, especially ones showing some yellow, and eat ‘em quick since the more sugar the fruit has the shorter the shelf life will be. Avoid Green Grapes that appear wet and sticky in their package or that feel soft.

You can expect to find sweet-eating peak season Green Seedless Grapes from Chile in stores the next several weeks.

Seedless Mini Cucumbers

Peak Season    Best Flavor    Value Priced

Ever try Seedless Mini Cucumbers? They’re popularity is on the rise as people discover their flavor and convenience.  Plus, Mini Cucumbers are more readily available on produce department shelves in recent years. So what’s the scoop? 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 juicy crunch will be appreciated by the whole family. Mini Cucumbers are perfect for crunchy snacking, veggie trays and quick “refrigerator pickle” recipes.

March will be an excellent time to enjoy Seedless Mini Cucumbers at affordable prices since two producing areas are in season. Canadian greenhouses are just beginning their harvests and Mexican greenhouses are still at their peak. 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

  1. Slice Seedless Mini Cucumbers into 1” segments
  2. Spoon a small dollop of whipped Cream Cheese onto one end
  3. Season to taste with coarse salt and cracked black pepper
  4. Chop a few sprigs of Parsley and sprinkle onto the cheese

 
 
 

Asparagus

Peak Season    Best Flavor

It is definitely not Spring yet, but we can get a taste of it now that fresh Asparagus from Mexico is in season. Packed with flavor, packed with vitamins and nutrients, fresh Asparagus can make meals exciting in many ways. Bake it into casseroles. Blanch it before adding it to a fresh salad. Boil or steam it as a delicious green side dish, dressed simply with oil, butter, fresh herbs or a squeeze of lemon. Roast it in the oven with olive oil, balsamic or the juice from an orange, or wrap it in bacon!

Recipe: Bacon Wrapped Asparagus Bunches

  1. Pre-heat Oven to 425 F
  2. Rinse 1lb of fresh Green Asparagus
  3. Trim off the fibrous bottom portion of the Asparagus (about the last 1″)
  4. Wrap 5-7 stalks of standard sized Asparagus with 3 strips of Bacon, just overlapping
  5. Drizzle with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
  6. Season with Coarse Salt and Black Pepper
  7. Place on baking tray, seam side down, and roast for 19-23 minutes until the bacon is cooked to your preference

 

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus Bunches

Kitchen Tip of the Week

How NOT to screw up fresh Asparagus and other FAQs

  • How do you choose it? Avoid Asparagus bunches that have an odor, wrinkled spears, spread open tips or soft tips. Look for a healthy green color, though a little purpling is not a problem.
  • How do you store it? I simply recommend wrapping a moist paper towel around the stem ends and storing the Asparagus in the refrigerator. Asparagus is highly perishable so use it within a few days of purchase.
  • Is the whole spear edible? Cut the tougher bottom portion of the spear off – usually the last 3/4″ to 1-1/2″ that is lighter in color. Or grab the bottom of the stem and the middle of the spear then bend – the Asparagus will snap where the fibrous portion ends.
  • Golden Rule for Cooking Asparagus: High Temperature, Short time. This will highlight the flavor without bringing on the mushiness. If you like mushy Asparagus (what! Seriously?), go ahead and cook it to death.
  • How do you cook it? The goal is to finish each of these cooking methods with a cooked piece of asparagus that still has some texture and has not gone completely limp.
    • Steam or blanch fresh Asparagus for 2 to 3 minutes at most.
    • Grill over high heat for 2 to 4 minutes after lightly coating the Asparagus in olive oil and seasoning with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
    • Roast in the oven at 400F lightly tossed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and seasoned with salt and pepper for 12-18 min or until browned.
    • Pan-sear in 2 tbsp olive oil over high heat covered with a lid for 2 minutes, then uncover and flip allowing the other side to blacken for 1 minute.
    • Sauté in olive oil over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, covered.
    • Microwave in about 1/4 cup of water for 5 minutes in a tightly covered microwave-safe container.

 
 

Buy smart. Shop healthy.

The Produce Geek, Jonathan K. Steffy

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