When I see the stacks of orange orbs in front of grocery stores, I can't help but think that pumpkins have been hijacked for that trick without a treat, the Halloween jack-o-lantern. The hijackees have been bred not for their texture or flavor, but for their bright color and substantial stems.
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Farm Fresh Now Recipes
We created the Farm Fresh Now! series of vegetable profiles (with recipes), plus a local foods infographic showing what’s in season when, in order to spread the word about all the great produce grown by Illinois farmers. The project was supported by an Illinois Specialty Crop Block Grant through the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
I’ll never forget the simple grilled radicchio I had in Rome at a restaurant up the hill behind the Coliseum.
It took me a while to realize that the soft, meltingly delicious vegetable soaked in olive oil was something I had indeed eaten before. And so have you, if you’ve ever had a mixed green salad with crunchy bits of burgundy and white leaves.
Radishes are zingy, crunchy root vegetables that are both spicy and cool, and are deliciously good for you! The are in the Cruciferous family (like kale and cabbage), and have many of the same health benefits. You can eat the root, the green tops, the flowers, and even the seed pods--so much nutrition for your money! You can eat them raw as snacks, in salads or salsas, or sauteed in a little butter. And make sure you buy or grow lots of them, because you can pickle them in your fridge and use them in sandwiches, on toast, or for a satisfying afternoon sweet and spicy snack!
Good news. Pie grows on plants! Okay, I’m just kidding (think pizza is a vegetable?), but it is always exciting to find rhubarb at the first farmers’ markets of the season. The gorgeous green-red stalks of the delightfully sour spring vegetable are all the reason you need to make something sweet-tart, like a slushie or margarita after your trip to the market!
The fractacally never ending broccoli. Romanesco has to be one of the most showy veggies that you will see at the market. This Italian broccoli is not only mesmerizing, but also easy to digest! It has been described as tasting “like cauliflower, but not as boring,” and “like broccoli, but not so broccoli” -- I’m not sure if that helps, but it is wonderful raw or cooked (just don’t over cook!), and it will jazz up any crudite platter with it’s gorgeous bright green color, and it’s mathing personality!
Stop! When you get back from the market and are trying to find places for all of the beautiful produce you bought (or the ones that are fresh from your garden), don’t throw away those root tops. The tops of carrots, radishes, turnips, and beets, for example, are packed with nutrients (sometimes more than the root itself) --and are delicious! They can be used to make pestos, as greens to spice up your salad, sauteed, or my favorite way, in soups.
For many baby-boomers, the constant refrain of “Eat your spinach, it’s good for you!” and the olive green glop of canned vegetable that accompanied the words, led to life-long spinach avoidance. Well now is the time, if you haven’t already, to overcome your spinach phobia. One nibble of a local farmer’s sweet and vibrant fresh spinach will do the trick.
The first spinach you see every spring at your local farmers' market is most likely from seeds planted late last fall.
If you like the circus act where a crowd of clowns emerges from a tiny car, then you’ll love spaghetti squash.
It’s just plain fun to cook a vegetable the shape of a watermelon, open it up, and pull out yards of crisp-tender, golden strands. It only adds to the fun when you learn that something this pasta-like can be low in calories (45 per cup), free of gluten, and rich in folic acid, fiber, potassium and carotenes.
Super root to the rescue! Fall is coming, and as the days get shorter and cooler (well, a little bit cooler) the tables at farmers’ markets that were once piled high with delicate summer fruits and vegetables are changing to heaps of heartier, thicker skinned foods that will hold up nicely in a cool basement over the winter. Sweet potatoes are one of the things you’ll find at the market this time of year, and they are also one of the things that make the coming season something to look forward to.
“A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins,” according to the writer Laurie Colwin.