Editor’s Note: Here’s a handy guide from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that features Fruits and Vegetables in Season.
What’s In Season: Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables and How To Cook Them
Nowadays with food coming from all over the country and around the world, we have access to winter produce in summer and vice versa. So it makes it harder to distinguish what’s really seasonal and to eat that way.
Read Related: Chilled Mango and Avocado Soup with Chipotle and Coconut
For some time now, I have been witnessing a growing trend of people inquiring about local seasonal produce and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) markets or local harvest. And that, nine years ago when I moved from New York City to South Florida, was something absolutely foreign, even hard to envision.
Yet it might sound something trendy, eating seasonally goes beyond that, it’s something that is embedded in our human biology. Eating seasonally (or not) affects not only our health, the economy, but the planet as well.
Craving lighter, fresher produce during hot seasons doesn’t occur by chance. Our body holds the wisdom of nature and knows naturally what it needs because it moves around nature and its cycles or seasons.
WHY GOING LOCAL IS GOOD
Fresh local seasonal fruits and vegetables have a much higher concentration of nutrients. When produce have to travel long distances they are picked unripe, with less nutrients, and by the time they get to our tables they have already lost even more. And at the same time, you’ll be supporting your local economy while reducing environmental impressions.
WHERE TO GO LOCAL
Not only are local, seasonal ingredients fresher, more nutritious, and tastier, they are also less expensive than out of season produce. Especially, if you purchase them at your local greenmarket or CSA market. Simply because there are less expenses involve both regarding harvesting and distribution.
So find a local green market near you or contact a CSA market in your area.
WHAT’S IN SEASON IN SUMMER
- Green beans
- Summer squash
- Green beans
- Summer squash
For a more detailed list visit Southland Farmer’s Market Association’s site.
THE KEY TO COOKING FRESH SEASONAL PRODUCE
No, it is not seasoning. It is actually keeping it as fresh as possible. Fresh, seasonal food comes already charged with flavor and textures, so overdoing, or over-seasoning will not only lose some of nutrients but also its rich, natural, earthy flavor. So keep the cooking and seasoning to the minimum, just use it to only to enhance flavors, color and textures.
ROASTED BEET SALAD WITH ARUGULA AND MINT GRAPEFRUIT VINAIGRETTE
1 bunch organic beets (red, yellow or oranges), greens removed, cleaned, not peeled
Slash of balsamic vinegar
1 t dried rosemary
1 small package goat or feta cheese, crumbled
1 bunch arugula, washed and dried, cut into small pieces
Botija olives, as needed, optional
2-3 sprigs fresh mint, leaves only, coarsely chopped
1-2 sprigs fresh cilantro, leaves only, coarsely chopped, optional
1 grapefruit, cut into supreme and then medium diced
1-2 limes, juiced
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
Sea salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 250ºF.
In a medium bowl, whisk all the ingredients together minus the oil.
Slowly drizzle with the oil whisking continuously.
Season to taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
In a small dutch oven, toss the beets with the balsamic, rosemary, oil, salt and pepper. Cover and place in the oven. Cook for 1 hour or until tender.
Let cool slightly. Peel by placing the beets in a towel and carefully rubbing the skin off. Cool to room temperature. Cut beets into 1/2 inch slices and carefully place in a salad bowl. Add the arugula, goat or feta cheese and tomatoes and toss with a little vinaigrette.
Taste and adjust amount of vinaigrette.
WATERMELON SALAD WITH RICOTTA
1 watermelon, cut into bite pieces, seeded
4-5 oz. ricotta “salata” (feta, buffalo mozzarella, “burrata,” or any cheese of your choice), sliced into 1/4-inch pieces and then into squares
1/2 bunch scallions, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
2-3 sprigs fresh mint, leaves only, minced
1 medium yellow pepper, seeded, diced
1/2 green jalapeño, seeded, minced
1 T dates, pitted, chopped
1/2 C blueberries, washed, rinsed
1 1/2 T raw walnuts, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon, or aged balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
In a bowl, mix all the ingredients in a salad bowl. Toss with lemon juice and olive oil. Season to taste. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
Garnish with edible flowers. Serve right away.
*For the bacon bits, since I am not a big fan of the commercial types, simply sauté (or bake in the low at low temperature) a few strips on a saucepan, dry on paper towels, and cut into small pieces. You can do the same with prosciutto.
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