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The Fruits of Fall: the Delicious and Dramatic Dragon Fruit!

Enjoy A Fruitful Fall with the Season’s New Darling – the Delicious and Dramatic Dragon Fruit

As Americans continue to explore their local Farmers Markets, and expand their culinary arsenals with healthier, cleaner, and less processed foods, many more unique fruits and vegetables have been gaining in popularity over the past few years. One such fruit is Dragon Fruit, favored for both for its sweet but mellow flavoring and dense nutrient content. Plus, lets face it, it’s become an international icon via Instagram, where its beautiful fuchsia tones (of the pink fleshed varietal) and unusual textures have made it a photogenic super star. So get ready to explore this under-rated Chef favorite and darling of the internet – from the basics to nutrition, to preparation and creative recipe ideas – we’ve got you covered!

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The most commonly recognized varietal of PitayaPitaya Blanca – also known as Dragon Fruit!

So Just What is a “Dragon Fruit”?

Easily recognizable, the Dragon Fruit (or Pitaya/Pitahaya as it’s called in its native environs) has a very distinctive appearance – being covered in a series of thick bright red/pink leaves (similar to those on an Artichoke) which taper off into pronounced green spine-like tips curving up and off the surface, giving it a wild and slightly “out of this world” appearance. The Pitaya’s source is as unique as its appearance, as you may imagine it stemming from a tropical tree in a lush jungle paradise somewhere, however the “tree” it actually comes from is a Cactus!

Filled with a spongy white to pink succulent flesh containing numerous edible tiny black seeds (it is because of the similarity of texture and seeds that its often compared to the Kiwi Fruit) the flavor of its juicy flesh is mildly sweet and fruity. Compared to its flamboyant appearance, the flesh is surprisingly mild in contrast, its flavor more akin to the mellow sweetness of a pear or slightly unripe melon than that of some of its strongly flavored tropical compatriots. The pink fleshed varieties typically have a slightly brighter and sweeter flavor.

Picking Hint: if you want it at its most deliciously sweet wait until the ends of the spine leaves start to dry up and the skin softens and reaches a bright deep red.

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The Intuitive Forager, Kerry Clasby, taking stock of a freshly foraged crop of Dragon Fruit

Intuitive Foraging:

As always the Intuitive Forager, Kerry Clasby, is dedicated to sourcing the very best in independently and organically grown produce – and in the case of Dragon Fruit it’s no different! In Kerry’s Words:

“Our Dragon Fruit comes to us from just up the coast in Ventura County (CA) and has been perfected on one farm – with over 17 years of growth and research used to create the perfect example of this fruit – and (of course) is sold exclusively through The Intuitive Forager!”

 

 

Types of Pitaya:

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Dragon Fruit (Sweet Pitaya) growing on its Cactus “Tree”

Dragon Fruit/Sweet Pitaya (Hylocereus Family) – These are the variety of Pitaya that are most common here in the US and abroad and which are commonly referred to as “Dragon Fruit” (a reflection of the fruits vernacular Asian names). These sweet varietals come in 3 main types: Pitaya Blanca (Pink/Red Skin, White Flesh), Pitaya Roja (Red Skin, Pink Flesh) and Pitaya Amarilla (Yellow Skin, White Flesh) – and it’s the first varietal that once again, is what most people are referring to as “Dragon Fruit”.

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Dragon Fruits Cousin: Pitaya Agria, or Sour Pitaya

Sour Pitaya/Pitaya Agria (Stenocereus Family) – Are native to the more arid regions of the Americas. These varietals tend to have a stronger and more sour flavor (than the common red varietals found in US Farmers Markets), and a juicier more refreshing flesh. Additional related varietals of Sour Pitaya come from the Dagger Cactus and the Organ Pipe Cactus. You most likely wont come across these Sour Pitaya’s unless you venture South of the Border.

 

 

Our Dragon Fruit as featured at Wolfgang Puck at the Hotel Bel-Air in LA.

Dragon Fruit Nutrition: In addition to it’s high water content and ample Potassium, Carotene, Protein, and Vitamin C,  Dragon Fruit shows up on your Super Food lists as it contains a surprising level of both Phytonutrients and Antioxidants. The red fleshed varietals get their coloring from Lycopenes, anti-oxidants known for their cancer fighting properties as well as lowering blood pressure and helping protecting against heart disease. The edible seeds are also high in polyunsaturated fats, including Omega-3 and 6 Fatty Acids.

Dragon Fruit in the Kitchen:

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Baja Kanpachi Ceviche with Dragon Fruit (Pitaya), Charred Cucumber, Passion Fruit, Jalapeno Oil, and Coriander – via Chef McVay at Wolfgang Pucks at the Hotel Bel-Air in LA.

Even though the Dragon Fruit’s flesh is soft and juicy, it also has some crunch and so still holds its shape when cut, and so in addition to fresh eating, it also makes a viable and delicious addition to fruit salads (especially those with other tropical fruits) and Salsas. It’s also great with desserts, or on top of your favorite breakfast selection, whether that’s yogurt, oatmeal, or even waffles. Juice it and add to a fruity cocktail – or puree for a frozen twist. You can also puree the flesh and combine with sugar and freeze to make your own sorbets and sherbets.

If you’re an “Acai Bowl” fan try making your own “Dragon Fruit Bowl” with your pureed flesh. Its high levels of Vitamin C (one cup = 190% of your recommended daily amount), Calcium, Fiber, and both Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids (contained in the seeds) make the Dragon Fruit a great immunity boosting, nutrient rich and filling ingredient to add some light sweetness to your daily juicing and smoothie concoctions.

You also might try renowned New York Chef David Bouley’s intuitive twist with Dragon Fruit. He takes a perfectly prepared piece of wild caught salmon – places medallion cube Dragon Fruit and delicately sliced avocados on top with a zest of lemon – it’s so delicious!

"intuitive forager" "food blog" "farmers market" "food blogger" "produce blog" "farmers market blog" "cooking with" "recipes" "creative lemon recipes" "cooking with" "health benefits" “farm to table” “downtown 3rd farmers market” "dragon fruit" "dragonfruit" "pitaya" "dragon fruit smoothie recipe" "dragon fruit bowl" "breakfast bowl" "smoothie bowl"Like we mentioned in the Intro, Dragon Fruit (especially the magenta hued variety) has become a mega Instagram Star, mainly because of its nutrients combined with its kick of color (can you say photogenic?) perfect for smoothies and breakfast bowls. Here’s some of our favorite recipe links for consuming your Dragon Fruit in the AM: (Clockwise from Upper Left)

Dragon Fruit Smoothie Bowl from the Sunkissed Kitchen:

https://sunkissedkitchen.com/dragon-fruit-smoothie-bowls/

Dragon Fruit Smoothie:

https://www.seeandsavour.com/2014/07/dragon-fruit-smoothie-foodpornindex.html#.W6LacPllDIU

Kiwi Dragon Fruit Green Smoothie Bowl from Smile Sandwich:

http://smilesandwich.com/2017/05/23/kiwi-dragonfruit-green-smoothie-bowl/

Coconut, Pitaya, and Pineapple Pancakes from Corina Nielsen:

http://corinanielsen.com/livefit/2014/06/29/coconut-pineapple-pitaya-dragon-fruit-pancakes/

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Beyond Breakfast: Try some Creative Ways to Prepare Your Dragon Fruit – Like Two of our Favorite’s – Salads and Salsas, and More:
(Clockwise from Upper Left)

Dragon Fruit Salad:
http://whiteonricecouple.com/recipes/dragon-fruit-salad-recipe/

Dragon Fruit Salad with Mandarins from Wander Spice:

https://wanderspice.com/dragon-fruit-salad/

Dragon Fruit Salad:
http://www.greenkitchenstories.com/dragon-fruit-recipes-a-la-alkaline-sisters/

Dragon Fruit Rainbow Rolls from One Green Planet:

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/dragon-fruit-rainbow-rolls/

Dragon Fruit Salsa:
http://mamalikestocook.com/dragon-fruit-salsa/

Seared Tuna with Dragon Fruit Salsa:
https://beyondmeresustenance.com/seared-tuna-with-dragon-fruit-salsa/

 

 

Melon Mania – Including Freshly Foraged Varietals You’ll Only Find at the Farmers Market!

 

MELON MANIA!

Watermelon, Honeydew, and Cantaloupe may hog the spotlight when Summer starts, and we all start getting those cravings for their refreshing, juicy sweet flesh – but as the Season runs deep so do our options as a plethora of delicious and unique Melon varietals also come into season throughout the entire summer. These refreshing gems are some of Summer’s best kept secrets, and guaranteed to be in the arsenal of your favorite top Chef!

So get ready to explore some of these oft missed treats, and be sure to snag them if you see them at the Farmers Market (many of them have very short shelf lives, making them hard to find in any sort of commercial retailer, and one of the prime examples of “freshly foraged” produce you can only find via the Farmers Market).  Plus whether you try some of these new varietals, or slice up a timeless favorite, be sure and explore the creative recipe ideas (at the bottom) for making the most of your melons: there’s more to juicy melon’s than just fresh eating!

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Specialty Melon Varietals:

"intuitive forager" "food blog" "farmers market" "food blogger" "produce blog" "farmers market blog" "melons" "muskmelons" "ambrosia" "ambrosia melon" "cooking with" "recipes" "creative lemon recipes" "cooking with melons" "health benefits"Ambrosia Melon: A petite variety of the netted Muskmelon family, the Ambrosia resembles a smallish Cantaloupe. They feature a fairly thin rind, a light orange and very juicy flesh, and a small seed cavity. The flesh is very sweet and aromatic with floral notes (when ripe they should give of a pleasant sweet melon aroma), and soft and lush in texture. They have a short shelf life once harvested, so can be hard to find – finding yours freshly foraged at the Farmers Market is the perfect place to score this sweet and juicy favorite. When selecting look for the same ripeness cues as you would with Cantaloupe, but with a more fine netting.

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Charentais Melon: The Charentais is a petite varietal of melon, with a hard and smooth green to greyish tinged skin featuring darker green stripes. It’s bright to light orange flesh is particularly dense and firm, and yet succulent – and is favorited for its aromatic and highly sweet flavoring, with notes of tropical fruit and floral undertones. With its robust aroma and delicious flavor, the Charentais is a Chef favorite. The Charentais is a perfect candidate for fresh eating out of hand and other raw preparations, and unlike other Melon varietals the Charentais is not well suited to cooking. Its short shelf life once picked makes them hard to find except at Farmers Markets and other Farm to Table Venues. When selecting yours, use your nose, as they have a rich tropical aroma when ripe, and the green-grey rind may have a hint of yellow.

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Galia Melon – A medium sized round member of the netted Muskmelon family, the Galia is an Israeli hybrid (related to the Ha’Ogen) with a vibrant yellow to orange skin, covered with the families signature tan netting. The flesh is a light green with a crisp succulent texture, and known for its exceptional and rather unique spicy sweet flavor and perfumed aromatics. It’s this unusual and incredible flavoring that make them highly desirable, despite their short shelf life.

Galia Melons are best eaten fresh and used in uncooked preparations like fresh green and fruit salads, along with breakfast and main dishes. They pair well in both sweet and savory applications. Less about knocking and touching, the Galia Melons ripeness is best determined by the development of its distinct musky aroma, along with the depth of orange hue to the skin – the more orange coloration in the skin the higher the sugar content will be of the melons flesh. Like so many of the Melons on this list, you won’t find them in commercial supermarkets due to their short shelf life, but snag yours freshly foraged and their incomparable.

"intuitive forager" "food blog" "farmers market" "food blogger" "produce blog" "farmers market blog" "cooking with" "recipes" "creative lemon recipes" "cooking with melons" "health benefits" “farm to table” “downtown 3rd farmers market” "melons" "muskmelons" "ivory gaya melon" "gaya melon"" "snow leopard melon"Gaya Melon (Ivory)/Snow Leopard Melon – Rare and hard to find. Snow leopard is a small cream colored melon with a splattering of bright green spots and streaks, a thin outer rind, and a dense seed cavity. Its creamy white flesh is crisp, becoming softer and juicier the closer you get to the center, and has a bright sweet cucumber like flavor, with undertones of honey and pear. It’s similar to a honeydew in texture and taste, but with softer and slightly sweeter flesh. Storing it at room temperature will bring out the flavor and sweetness even more (and permeate your kitchen with a lovely rich sweet melon aroma). It’s petite size and particularly sweet flesh make the Snow Leopard ideal for fresh eating out of hand, as well as an addition to fruit and green salads, as well as purees (it’s also an ideal choice to add to your kebobs!).

"intuitive forager" "food blog" "farmers market" "food blogger" "produce blog" "farmers market blog" "cooking with" "recipes" "creative lemon recipes" "cooking with melons" "health benefits" “farm to table” “downtown 3rd farmers market” "melons" "muskmelons" "ogen melon" "haogen melon" "ha'ogen melon"Ha’Ogen Melon: Another smallish or “personal size” melon, originating in the kibbutz of Israel. Unique, and fairly easily identifiable with its yellow skin and green stripes. This rind is thinnish and gives way to a luscious and juicy green flesh, known for its sweet tropical flavor and strong notes of honey. Like many of the other varietals here, its size makes it ideal for eating fresh out of hand, however its distinctly sweet and tropical flavor make it an alluring addition to many of the recipes below. When selecting yours, find one which has a nice yellow peel in between the green stripes and sniff for a nice fresh tropical aroma.

"intuitive forager" "food blog" "farmers market" "food blogger" "produce blog" "farmers market blog" "cooking with" "recipes" "creative lemon recipes" "cooking with melons" "health benefits" “farm to table” “downtown 3rd farmers market” "melons" "muskmelons" "orange melon" "sweet orange melon" "orchid melon" "orchid orange melon"Orchid (Sweet Orange) Watermelon: A small oval varietal of Watermelon featuring a beautiful and super sweet orange flesh, with hints of Sherbert. Orange Watermelon varietals are known for their crisp, juicy texture and brightly sweet flavor. The fruits are a small oval-round (about 5lb each) so a perfect personal size melon for fresh eating out of hand. They may also be used similar to Red Watermelon in recipes, and their particularly sweet flavor makes them a great addition (they can also be grilled or seared, caramelizing their natural concentration of sugars).

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Rocky Sweet Melons – One of the “netted” Muskmelons (the exterior looks like a Cantaloupe and the interior flesh like that of a Honeydew) – the Rocky Sweet varietal is known for its exceptional spicy sweet flavor and perfumed aromatics. It is round with a thick yellow skin covered with the signature golden tan netting. The flesh is a light green with a smooth and succulent texture. Less about knocking and touching, the Rocky Sweet Melons ripeness is best determined by the development of its distinct musky and sweet aroma, along with a lighter yellow to brown or even orange coloration of the skin – which indicates a higher the sugar content.

Rocky Sweet Melons taste like a bit of a cross between a Cantaloupe and a Honeydew – that being said, unlike most melons these are at their absolute best when chilled – and are best eaten fresh and used in uncooked preparations like fresh green and fruit salads along with breakfast and main dishes. They pair well in both sweet and savory applications. Rocky Sweet Melon’s incredible flavoring make them highly desirable, however you won’t find them in commercial supermarkets due to their short shelf life – which makes them the perfect candidate for our Markets – freshly foraged and direct to you (once cut, keep in a sealed container in the fridge).

"intuitive forager" "food blog" "farmers market" "food blogger" "produce blog" "farmers market blog" "cooking with" "recipes" "creative lemon recipes" "cooking with melons" "health benefits" “farm to table” “downtown 3rd farmers market” "melons" "muskmelons" "sugar cube melon"Sugar Cube Melon – This “Mini Cantaloupe” is smaller than the traditional Cantaloupe with a more densely compact flesh and is known for its sweet flavor. Often also referred to as the Breakfast Cantaloupe, the bright salmon orange flesh is tender and juicy and has a higher sugar content than other varieties. It also maintains its sugar level longer than other melons, often up to two weeks past reaching ripeness. The exterior has a similar netted tan to cream rind like its larger cousin.

Their size makes them perfect for single or two serving for fresh eating and cut in half with seeds removed their ideal for filling with a variety of ingredients. Sugar Cube is also great to add a blast of refreshing sweetness to smoothies and juicing mixtures as well as pureeing and adding to sorbets, granitas, and frozen cocktails.

"intuitive forager" "food blog" "farmers market" "food blogger" "produce blog" "farmers market blog" "cooking with" "recipes" "creative lemon recipes" "cooking with melons" "health benefits" “farm to table” “downtown 3rd farmers market” "melons" "muskmelons" "yellow doll watermelon" "yellow doll" "yellow baby doll" "watermelon" "yellow baby doll watermelon" "yellow watermelon"Yellow Doll Watermelon – Smaller, sweeter, and with less seeds than your average red watermelon (Lycopene is what gives them there reddish hue, without it Watermelon flesh is yellow) the Yellow Doll has become the darling of the West Coast over the past few years. Similar in appearance on the exterior (light green with darker green stripes) the Yellow Doll is firm and round with a relatively thin rind, and a surprisingly bright yellow flesh which is juicy and unusually sweet, with a honey-like flavor. Great for eating fresh out of hand, they can also be used in the same raw and cook preparations as Red Watermelon – plus its particularly sweet flavor can make it perfect for use in cocktails and grilled or seared in a hot pan to caramelize all those delicious natural sugars.

"intuitive forager" "food blog" "farmers market" "food blogger" "produce blog" "farmers market blog" "cooking with" "recipes" "creative lemon recipes" "cooking with melons" "health benefits" “farm to table” “downtown 3rd farmers market” "melons" "muskmelons" "yellow watermelon" "seedless yellow melon"Yellow (Seedless) Watermelon – On the exterior Yellow Watermelon looks very similar to their more famous red hued cousins – with their familiar circular to oblong shape and dark and light green rind – but the interior of the Yellow Watermelon features a firm golden to bright yellow toned succulent flesh which has a super juicy and extra sweet flavor with surprising honey-like undertones.

In addition to fresh eating out of hand or cubed and tossed into summer salads (where it pairs great with feta and goat cheeses), like its Red Cousin, Yellow Watermelon is also great for juicing, smoothies, and cocktails – plus Watermelon can also be made into Preserves and Jams, and the rind can even be pickled! Additionally its unique color and high sugar content make the Yellow Watermelon perfect for grilling or searing to caramelize those natural sugars.

Melon Nutrition: Sharing many nutritional similarities with its gourd cousins Squash, the Melon combines the high water and low calorie content of the summer squash, with the high nutrient content of the winter varieties, including high values of Vitamins B and C, Potassium, and soluble Pectin Fiber. So during these especially hot and dry summer months, there’s nothing better to take a refreshing and cooling bite out of.

Additional Muskmelon Nutrition: Muskmelon (think your “netted” Melons) varieties, are a particularly excellent source of beta-carotene, folic acid, potassium, vitamin C and dietary fiber.

Additional Watermelon Nutrition: The Orange-fleshed melons are high in vitamin A and C, beta-carotene, carbohydrates, fiber and protein (the Yellow-fleshed melons are very similar but with less beta-carotene) – while in addition the Red-fleshed varieties contain the antioxidant Lycopene (from which they get their red color). Watermelons are comprised of ninety-two percent water, making them an ideal healthy treat in hot weather, replenishing lost body fluids and potassium.

Melon Ideas and Links:

"intuitive forager" "food blog" "farmers market" "food blogger" "produce blog" "farmers market blog" "cooking with" "recipes" "creative lemon recipes" "cooking with melons" "health benefits" “farm to table” “downtown 3rd farmers market” "melons" "muskmelons" "watermelons" "creative melon recipes" "melon recipes" "melon salsa recipes" "melon entree recipes" "melons" "cooking" "recipes" "melon salsa" "melon salad" "melon slices" "melon wedges" "melon appetizers"Melon Appetizers and Sides: From How Sweet Eats, Sunset Mag, and Vegetarian Adventures. Clockwise from Upper Left:

Mint Feta Lime Melon Salad

Melon Salsa

Spicy Watermelon Salad

Mojito Melon Salsa

"intuitive forager" "food blog" "farmers market" "food blogger" "produce blog" "farmers market blog" "cooking with" "recipes" "creative lemon recipes" "cooking with melons" "health benefits" “farm to table” “downtown 3rd farmers market” "melons" "muskmelons" "watermelons" "creative melon recipes" "melon recipes" "melon salsa recipes" "melon entree recipes" "melons" "cooking" "recipes" "melon salads" "shaved melon" "shaved melon salads" "melon and tomato salad"Melon Salad Options: From BBC Good Food and Sunset Mag. Clockwise from Upper Left: 

Shaved Cantaloupe and Prosciutto Salad

Minted Melon, Tomato, and Prosciutto Salad

Tomato and Melon Salad with Scallops and Pink Peppercorns

Grilled Chicken and Melon Salad with Crispy Shallots

"intuitive forager" "food blog" "farmers market" "food blogger" "produce blog" "farmers market blog" "cooking with" "recipes" "creative lemon recipes" "cooking with melons" "health benefits" “farm to table” “downtown 3rd farmers market” "melons" "muskmelons" "watermelons" "creative melon recipes" "melon recipes" "melon salsa recipes" "melon entree recipes" "melons" "cooking" "recipes" "melon salad" "melon pizza recipe" "grilled melon" "grilled cantaloupe" "grilled watermelon" "melon skewers"Grilled Melon Meals: From the Fit Fork, Popsugar,  and Sunset Mag. Clockwise from Upper Left: 

Grilled Watermelon and Shrimp Skewers

Grilled Cantaloupe with Ancho Date Sauce

Grilled Calamari, Watermelon, and Tomato Salad

Grilled Watermelon Pizza

"intuitive forager" "food blog" "farmers market" "food blogger" "produce blog" "farmers market blog" "cooking with" "recipes" "creative lemon recipes" "cooking with melons" "health benefits" “farm to table” “downtown 3rd farmers market” "melons" "muskmelons" "watermelons" "creative melon recipes" "melon recipes" "melon salsa recipes" "melon entree recipes" "melons" "cooking" "recipes" "melon pasta" "melon pana cotta" "melon fish tacos"Melon Entrees and Specialty Dishes: From BHG Mag, the Parma Crown, the Rosemary Kitchen Witch, and Sunset Mag. Clockwise from Upper Left: 

Fish Tacos with Melon Salsa

Prosciutto & Melon with Fig and Port Wine Sauce

Prosciutto & Melon Salad with Zucchini Noodles

Melon and Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta

 

Bonus: Melons are perfect for making your own natural “Gatorade” at home – check out our Blog and Recipe here!

 

Figs are In – Get Creative with this Chef Favorite!

Delicious, nutritious – and often underrated – Figs bring to mind the rustic and sun-soaked hillsides of the eastern Mediterranean, along with that region’s traditional cuisine – but as a culinary ingredient they don’t discriminate, and figure into any number of endeavors. From fresh eating, to dried snacks, to both savory and sweet baking, and on to appetizers and main dishes, Figs are a surprisingly versatile fruit. So get ready to dig in and explore in this weeks Forager’s Pick below.

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BLACK MISSION FIGS

Black Mission Figs

Figs are one of the oldest plants to be cultivated by humans as a food source, with records of their growth as crops dating back over 11,000 years (in Egypt). Most popular now in Northern Africa, and the Eastern Mediterranean, they have also been successfully naturalized in the US, primarily in Southern CA. One of the most popular Figs here, the (California) Mission Fig renders its name from the Spanish Missionary Fathers who originally planted the Figs around the San Diego Mission in 1769.

Black Mission Figs have a tough dark purple peel, which often cracks near the stem when it’s ripe, and a creamy ivory colored flesh filled with a jelly like sack of edible seeds. The seeds are generally hollow, unless they have been pollinated, in which case they provide the nutty flavor found in dried Figs.

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BLACK MISSION FIGS

In addition to fresh eating (or drying) Black Mission Figs also pair extremely well with savory ingredients like salt, spices, and even cocoa where they develop an almost meat-like smoky flavor. They make a great base for cheese appetizers – try whipping Blue Cheese and heavy cream and pipe into halved Figs, then top with toasted Hazelnuts. Or try sauteeing roasted beets and quartered Figs into a honey balsamic vinegar, and then toss with Arugula for a delicious salad.

 

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CANDY STRIPE FIGS

Candy Stripe Figs

Also known as “Tiger Stripe”, Candy Stripe Figs are easy to spot with their tell-tale green and yellow striped skin. The rose colored interior flesh includes a crimson colored seed pulp which has a flavor reminiscent of raspberry or strawberry jam. This Fig varietal has the highest sugar content, and its flavor is light and sweet – making it one of the best tasting – and most popular of all figs.

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PANACHE TIGER STRIPE

The Candy Stripe is the most commonly eaten fresh and out of hand. They make a great both a great tasting and nutrient rich snack – and their attractive appearance and sweet flavor make them an excellent pairing for strong cheeses. They are also great dried and stored for later eating, or cooked and made into a jam or a filling for baked goods.

One of our favorite varietals of the Candy Stripe’s is the Panache Tiger Stripe, a classic old variety, these figs come and leave quickly, so snap them up when you see them. Striped in green and gold with a sweet raspberry red flesh, the most beautiful fig on a plate you’ll ever see.

 

Additional Fig Varietals:

 

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DESERT KING FIG

Desert King Figs:

This larger sized Green Fig varietal is fast becoming a favorite among Chefs and Farmers Market patrons. It’s thinner skin is a bright to light green, and has a bright rosy red flesh, and sugary flavor with strawberry and mulberry undertones and a melt in your mouth texture. It’s rich juicy sweet flavor and succulent flesh make these a favorite for fresh eating.

 

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BROWN TURKEY FIGS

Brown Turkey Figs:

This darling of the Mediterranean has a rusty purple skin with a light green shoulders and stem area. Its blush colored flesh has a distinct amber hue to it and contains edible seeds. Easy to eat fresh out of hand, they will often crack open near the stem easily exposing the flesh. More decadently sweet than other varieties, the flesh is meaty with hazelnut undertones.

 

Fig Nutrition:

Figs are a nutrient dense choice for either a snack or cooking and baking. Low in Sodium (if any), and rich in dietary Fiber, Calcium, Protein, and depending on the varietal they also contain various levels of Potassium, Magnesium, and Iron, along with Vitamins B and Phosphorus (when dried their mineral levels increase, so if you’re looking for more Copper, Magnesium, or Potassium, snack on some dry Figs). They are also a great source of Omega-3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, as well as free-radical fighting anti-oxidants. Most varietals are also Cholesterol Free and Sodium Free.

Cooking with Figs:

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Here’s some of our favorite creative and delicious Recipes starring Figs, along with some other links to additional resources for using Figs in the Kitchen:

Fig Recipes (Clockwise from Upper Left):

Marinated Fig Salad: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/marinated-fig-salad

Onion and Fig Jam Crostinis with Roasted Garlic, Brie, & Prosciutto: https://www.cookswithcocktails.com/onion-and-fig-jam-crostini/

Pancetta and Fig Pasta: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/pancetta-fig-pasta

Figgy Focaccia: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/figgy-focaccia

Additional Links:

Epicurious.com has some great creative recipes for both Fresh and Dry Figs, as well as some general tips on eating, prepping, and stowing your Figs.

Another great recipe features last week’s Forager’s Pick as well – Seared Figs with White Peaches in a Balsamic Reduction

And finally if you’re looking to do some Baking with the delicious Fig check out Brit.co’s 20 Fig Recipes That Far Outshine the Newton

Spring Favorite – Asparagus is Here!!

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First of the Season – Asparagus is Here!!!

They may be mostly available year round these days, but Asparagus’ “in season” season is Spring – and so its with open arms that we embrace it’s arrival at the Farmers Markets! Getting produce when it’s in season means getting it when it tastes the best – and there’s not much better than a perfectly tender and succulent Asparagus stalk!

Well known and loved the world over, these crunchy to tender green stalks are favorited for their earthy and mild grassy flavoring with their deliciously sweet to nutty undertones. Their tender and yet fibrous and meaty texture also contributes to their popularity (and makes them an entrée of choice for many Vegetarians), as does their ability to be prepared in a wide variety of ways. Asparagus stalks (technically Spears) tend to be the most tender at the tips getting continually more earthy and woody towards the base of the stalk.

Most of the time you won’t see much in terms of varietals when it comes to Asparagus (beyond colored types like White or Purple – which we’ll cover below), however you may occasionally see more “male” varieties, especially commercially. Coming in both Male and Female versions, the female Asparagus expends a good deal of her energy producing her seeds while the male is able to funnel that energy into producing a thicker more flavor laden stalk. Jersey Giant and Jersey Supreme are examples of “male cultivars”.

Asparagus’ popularity is also due in part to its largely flexible nature, especially when it comes to its culinary applications. Asparagus can be prepared, cooked, and consumed in wide variety of ways, all with their own qualities. From sauteeing, to baking, to steaming, to roasting and grilling there are lot of options to choose from, and paying attention to the size and your flavor preferences can help you determine your favorite. The tender and delicate spears are usually the preferred choice, and make great additions to salads or eaten raw, however if cooked preparations are your goal seeking out those thicker stalks will ensure they hold up better to cooked preparations like grilling. And it’s roasting or grilling that will reveal the sweeter sides of the stalks (steaming or boiling retains the earthier flavoring). You can check out all our favorite recipe links below!

"intuitive forager" "farmers markets" "downtown 3rd" “downtown 3rd farmers market”  “dtlv” “downtown lv” "las vegas” “farm to table” “fresh produce” “support small farms” “support local” “farmers market” “organic” “non gmo” “how to cook” “health benefits” “cooking with” “California Family Farms” “organic produce” “California produce” “las vegas produce” "asparagus" "purple asparagus"Purple Asparagus – one varietal you will see making a trip to the Market this Spring is Purple Asparagus, a type derived from Green Asparagus and easily recognizable by its violet hued stalks. However, don’t be surprised when you slice one open and discover the familiar light green and creamy colored flesh similar to that of Green Asparagus. Texture wise it is less fibrous than other Asparagus varietals, and also one of the most tender. In addition it has the highest sugar content, having approximately 20 percent more, which gives it a slightly sweeter edge. Once cooked, its flavor also develops more nutty and earthy undertones.

Asparagus Nutrition: Asparagus has the highest Glutathione content of any fruit or vegetable – a more rare anti-oxidant proven to aid in the prevention of cancer and other diseases by preventing damage to important cell components caused by free fadicals, peroxides, and heavy metals. It also aids in metabolic function, and protein synthesis in the body. Purple Asparagus spears garner their coloring from Anthocyanins, which are also their source of anti-oxidants with anti-inflammatory properties as well as aid towards cancer prevention.

Since there are so many ways to cook and eat this Spring favorite, we scoured the web for some varied and creative ways to consume these green stalks – so read on and dig in!

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From Breakfast to Dinner here were some of our favorite meals starring Asparagus (Clockwise from upper Left):

Roasted Sesame Asparagus Toasts with Poached Egg (How Sweet Eats):

https://www.howsweeteats.com/2014/03/roasted-sesame-asparagus-toasts-with-poached-eggs/

Tartine Style Asparagus and Spring Onion Croque Monsieur (Alexandra’s Kitchen):

http://alexandracooks.com/2012/04/13/tartine-style-asparagus-spring-onion-croque-monsieur/

Spring Greens and Asparagus and Ricotta Pasta (Foodie Crush):

https://www.foodiecrush.com/craving-spring-greens-asparagus-and-ricotta-pasta/

Springtime Veggie Skillet Lasagna (How Sweet Eats):

https://www.howsweeteats.com/2013/04/springtime-veggie-skillet-lasagna/

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And for some more delicious bites featuring Asparagus – The BBC put together an awesome line-up of Creative Recipes starring Asparagus and so we’ve highlighted our Picks Here:
(Clockwise from Upper Left):

Soft Boiled Egg with Bacon & Asparagus Soldiers:
https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3078686/softboiled-duck-egg-with-bacon-and-asparagus-soldi

Asparagus and Coconut Crepes with Sweet Chili Sauce:
https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/420657/asparagus-coconut-crpes-with-sweet-chilli-sauce

Asparagus Mousse with Ham and Red Onion Salad:
https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1267649/asparagus-mousse-with-ham-and-red-onion-salad

Asparagus, Sundried Tomato, and Olive Bread:
https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/10595/asparagus-sundried-tomato-and-olive-loaf

 

The Power of Purslane!

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Now in – Purslane!!

Sometimes also referred to as “Pigweed” (or Verdolagas in Mexico where it’s a very popular ingredient), Purslane is an old world annual originally indigenous to the Tropics/Sub-Tropics, but most commonly found in India and Iran, and now Mexico (in many parts of the world today it is referred to as a succulent or even a weed). Whether or not you consider it a garden border plant, a weed, or a wild gem of a plant, there’s no doubt about its nutrient punch and its bright light flavor!

This leafy vegetable is entirely edible from its muted green oval shaped leaves, to its reddish hued stems and flowers. Succulent and juicy, Purslane has a slightly sour and salty flavoring with mild lemony undertones. Purslanes bright flavor and succulent texture make it a unique edition to both green salads, as well as a great chopped addition to fruit salads, salsa or ceviche. It can also be sautéed in with other vegetables, or steamed and added to soups and stews (see below for recipe ideas).

Purslane Nutrition: In terms of nutritional content it’s definitely a “Power Green Veggie” – with the highest percentage of Omega-3’s than any other green vegetable. It’s also high in Vitamin’s A and C along with moderate amounts of Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium.

Ideas for Cooking with Purslane:

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Some of our favorite recipes gathered from the web that feature Purslane (clockwise from upper left):

Purslane Salad (Food 52):

https://food52.com/recipes/3347-purslane-salad

Tomato, Cucumber, Purslane Salad (Simply Recipes):

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/tomato_cucumber_purslane_salad/

Purslane Quesadilla Recipe (Food Network):

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/purslane-quesadillas-3362313?soc=socialsharingpinterest

Chicken with Purslane Greens and Salsa Verde (Spicie Foodie):

http://www.spiciefoodie.com/2016/03/14/chicken-with-purslane-greens-and-salsa-verde-pollo-en-salsa-verde-con-verdolagas/

Plus take a look at pickling your Purslane for later use:

Pickled Purslane (Homespun Seasonal Living):

https://homespunseasonalliving.com/pickled-purslane/

Just In – Cardoons!

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Cardoons (Cardones)

Cardoons, also commonly referred to by their Italian name, Cardones (car-doan-ee), resemble celery stalks but are actually a cousin of the artichoke. Popular in Italian and French cuisine they are starting to gain popularity in the States as Chef’s get hooked them. Despite their resemblance Cardones are not crisp like Celery and should not be eaten raw, instead they have a heavy and moist with an almost suede like texture. When cooked they have a bittersweet flavor, they are great grilled, roasted or fried. To reduce their bitterness soak in water with sea salt one hour prior to cooking.

Here’s a couple of our favorite online recipes using Cardoons:

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Cardoon in Marcona Almond Sauce from Saffron and Sun (Pictured Upper Left)

http://saffronandsun.blogspot.com/2015/03/cardoon-in-marcona-almond-sauce.html?spref=pi

 

Persian Yogurt and Cardoon Dip from Tumeric & Saffron (Pictured Upper Right)

https://turmericsaffron.blogspot.com/2011/05/borani-kangar-persian-yogurt-and.html

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