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Fresh Finds for Your 4th of July Table!

Get Ready to Grill for the Fourth of July with Fresh Finds from the Farmers Market!!

What better time to fire up the grill than the 4th of July? And while hot dogs and hamburgers may be synonymous with this holiday’s meal plan, we invite you to explore the plethora of produce options fresh from the Farmers Market and perfect for the grill. From familiar favorites like fresh grilled corn on the cob and veggie skewers, to more unusual grill fare like stone fruits and melons, there are a ton of delicious options for you to choose from in order to serve up a top notch eating experience for your friends and family this 4th of July!

Starting with fruit selections, we’ll finish up with our top veggie picks (make sure you check out the recipe links and ideas at the bottom of both sections):

 

Grilled Fruit:

One of the biggest missed opportunities in the world of grilling, many fruits are actually ideal for a nice sear on the grill. When fruit is grilled the natural sugars are caramelized, bringing out even richer flavoring. This enriched sweetness also pairs well with many of your more savory selections for the grill: stone fruits make great partners with cuts of steak and pork, while grilled tropical fruit salsas are the perfect topping for grilled fish, chicken and seafood. So get ready to have some fun on the grill, and enjoy some of the best flavors of summer!

Here’s a quick run down of Top Chef’s tips and tricks for grilling with these summertime fruity favorites:

Bananas: Great as a sweet appetizer or snack and perfect as a desert (think “grilled” banana split), the grilled banana is fast becoming a favorite. Cut in half lengthwise and with your cut side down, grill for 2-3 minutes. (Hint: Once you get a nice grill mark, move to the cooler side of your grill to heat the rest of the way through without it burning or turning to mush).

Cantalope: Is an ideal melon to grill for a sweet treat or to transform into a full on dessert. Cut your cantalope into slices or wedges 1-2″ thick and grill over high heat for between 1-2 minutes on each side (or until you have nice char marks). Great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with honey.

Pineapple: Under the intense heat of the grill Pineapple’s natural acidity and tanginess blossom into a superbly aromatic sweetness. It can fill a variety of grilled roles, from simple skewers to sides for heartier meats like steaks to lighter seafood and fish dishes, as well as holding its own solo (with a bit of brown sugar) for a tasty dessert. Cut into slices or wedges and cook both sides for 2-3 mins or until the surface starts to caramelize and a nice grill mark is achieved.

Stone Fruits: Peaches, Apricots, Plums, and Nectarine all make the cut. In addition to being a dessert favorite (especially Peaches), the juicy sweetness of stone fruits makes them a great pairing for both savory and sweet applications. They partner especially well with pork and beef, as well with greens, nuts, and cheeses (making them a great choice for salads). To prep, cut them in half, leaving the skin on and removing the pit. Grill them with the cut side down for 2-3 minutes or until the surface starts to caramelize and nice grill marks are achieved (for larger fruits move them to the cooler side of the grill for an additional 1-2 minutes to finish heating and tenderizing all the way through).

Watermelon: A staple of the summertime BBQ, its also a great addition to the grill. Whether paired with other grilled fruits on skewers and in salads, or grilled as a “Watermelon Steak” this juicy melon can go sweet or savory depending on how its prepared. Cut into large wedges and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side.

From Melons to Bananas, here are some of our favorite recipe links from the web, exploring the lighter side of grilled fruity fare:

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 Clockwise from Upper Left:

Grilled Grapefruit from The Foodie Corner

Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Melon from Martha Stewart

Grilled Watermelon and Feta Stacked Salads from Cooking for Keeps

Maple Pecan Grilled Bananas from Weight Watchers

Grilled Pineapple Mango Salsa from She Wears Many Hats

Grilled Pork Pineapple Tacos from Martha Stewart

Grilled Stone Fruit Sensations: Some of our favorite grilling recipes from the web, featuring an assortment of delicious stone fruits:

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 Clockwise from Upper Left:

Grilled Nectarines with Mascarpone Cream from Eating Well

Grilled Stone Fruit Salad with Watermelon Radish & Goat Cheese from SoFab Food

Balsamic Goat Cheese Grilled Plums from Taste of Home

Grilled Stone Fruit Salad from The Tablespoon

Grilled Fruit Salad with Creamy Goat Cheese Topping from The Tablespoon

Grilled Plum Salad with Maple-Nut Clusters from the Floating Kitchen

 

Grilled Veggies:

We’ve got a wide range of seasonal favorite vegetables perfect for your grilling pleasure, some of which you may not normally think of in terms of the grill. Top Picks from the Intuitive Forager for your Fourth of July include:

Corn on the Cob – You can’t go wrong with this classic and our current crop at the markets is especially tender, sweet, and delicious. Pull the husks back and try one of your favorite spice rubs along the kernels then fold the husks back up and grill them with the husks on.

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Intuitive Forager, Kerry Clasby, on the Malibu Fig Ranch with Summer Squash

Summer Squash Mix (also from the Malibu Fig Ranch) – Summer Squash varietals are another ideal candidate for your grill (where their tender texture can be preserved without turning mushy). Slice length wise or into medallions (leave the skin on) and grill with flesh side down and serve as part of a grilled vegetable platter, or dice into 1-2 inch chunks and grill for additions into salads, or on skewers. Hint: try marinating after you grill your squash if looking for a crisper texture.

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Fairy Tale Eggplant from the Malibu Fig Ranch

Eggplant and Candy Cane Beets freshly foraged from the Malibu Fig Ranch. Both are not always first thoughts for the grill, but the natural sweetness of Beets is brought out and caramelized under the heat of the grill while Eggplant’s ideal tender texture is easy to achieve on the grill (Eggplant “Steaks” are also a great option for those vegetarians in your family, as the flesh easily absorbs those flavors its marinated in).

An assortment of our favorite recipes from the web featuring creative uses for your grilled veggies:

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 Clockwise from Upper Left:

Grilled Corn with Cilantro Lime Butter from A Taste of Home

Grilled Vegetable Platter from Damn Delicious

Spicy Grilled Eggplant from A Taste of Home

Grilled Veggie Skewers with Chimichurri Sauce from the Minimalist Baker

Grilled Goat Cheese and Beet Sandwich with Arugula & Lavender Honey from Edible Arizona

Grilled Summer Squash and Peaches with Blue Cheese and Herbs from Things I Made Today

 

 

The Fungal Flavors of Fall: Your Guide to Gourmet Mushrooms

Get ready to demystify the incredible world of Mushrooms and learn to make fungi your friend,  as the Intuitive Forager provides a go-to guide for unique and gourmet varietals and gives you insider tips on how to select and prepare them like a pro! Plus don’t forget to check out the recipe links at the bottom for some delicious and creative ideas!

 

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An array of delicious Fungi at the Intuitive Forager Farmshop
The Wild Ones:

Many of our favorites are still considered “Wild Mushrooms” and are found in the wild or essentially grow wild on areas of farmland, and simply refuse to be regularly cultivated – making them all the more precious to find:

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The cap or “horn” of the Black Trumpet resembles a flower with its delicate and curled edges, albeit a rather gothic one, given its dark charcoal gray to black exterior. The flesh is a deep dark brown to black with a tender yet chewy texture and flavor which is both buttery and slightly smoky, and a pleasant, fruity aroma. Both the delicate texture and rich woodsy flavor of the Black Trumpet make this a Chef favorite. Refusing all attempts to be cultivated, the Black Trumpet is a true “wild” mushroom.

Tips: It’s easy to confuse with its cousin, the Black Chanterelle (which has noticeably visible veins if you are trying to tell the difference). Both the cap and stem are edible and have a similar texture and flavor. High in B12.

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The Cauliflower Mushroom (above left) shown with the Pom Pom Mushroom
Cauliflower Mushroom:

Its name likens it to a head of cauliflower, albeit its appearance suggests a leafier and more delicate one. A cap-less varietal of Mushroom, the Cauliflower is a creamy ivory in color and is composed of several layers of frilly “leaves” all connected to a common “base” or stem. It has a crunchy and firm texture, yet because each individual “leaf” is very thin it can be brittle and delicate to handle. It has a mild earthy flavor with nutty undertones and hints of Fennel and gives off a rich musky woodsy aroma.

The Cauliflower Mushroom is most commonly used whole or cut into florets and battered and/or sautéed. It also goes great in soups, broths, or consommés.

Tips: Look for younger, smaller, and evenly colored (ivory to cream) specimens, as the overly large or older mushrooms (look for browning and wilting branches/leaves) can often turn quite bitter and develop a tough texture. Make sure and wash well, as its many leafy layers create lots of hiding places for dirt and debris.

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Another Wild Mushroom, the Chanterelle (AKA the Golden Chanterelle) can range from a yellowish golden hue to a deeper bright orange. The stems flare up and out (covered in veins or “false gills”) into a wide, slightly wavy cap with ruffled edges. They are a nice dense and meaty mushroom, with a mild earthy flavor full of rich nutty notes and hints of spice, and a bright fruity aroma. Both caps and stems are edible, the stems having a more pronounced fibrous texture.

Wild Mushrooms tend to have stronger flavoring than their more cultivated cousins, and pair particularly well with butter and cream sauces in pastas as well as with other wild mushrooms. They prepare well both sautéed or roasted. Chanterelle’s are especially “spongy” so be careful not to waterlog them

These mushrooms are a great source of Vitamin A, Protein, Potassium, Iron, and several Amino Acids. Chanterelles have a very high content of Vitamin D2 (which helps the body absorb calcium) and may be why insects and slugs show little interest in this Fungi.

"intuitive forager" "food blog" "farmers market" "food blogger" "produce blog" "farmers market blog" "cooking with" "recipes" "creative recipes" "cooking with" "health benefits" “farm to table” “downtown 3rd farmers market” “california family farms” “the farm at Malibu” "mushrooms" "gourmet mushrooms" "cooking with mushrooms" "types of mushrooms" "guide to edible mushrooms" "culinary mushrooms" "mushroom guide" "lobster mushroom" "lobster mushrooms"Lobster Mushrooms:

Reminiscent of its namesake’s shell, the Lobster Mushroom is made up of a colorful array of fiery orange and red hues, all supporting a mottled and almost crustacean looking and highly textured cap. It’s flesh is meaty and grainy with an artichoke heart like texture and bold flavor not unlike that of shellfish. Its important to note the Lobster Mushroom is actually an example of one fungus attacking another as the “Lobster” fungus attacks a host mushroom, eventually covering it in the tell-tale vibrant colors and interrupting and altering its growth pattern into the erratic and mottled shapes of the Lobster Mushroom. Given this fact, the flavor can very slightly depending on the underlying host varietal, as the natural robust  flavoring of the Lobster fungus takes on underlying notes of its host.

Lobster Mushrooms retain their shape and texture even after cooking, and can be baked into dishes or added to soups and stews, they also work great for drying, as the process locks in their distinct flavor.

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Morel Mushrooms:

The Morel’s unique features make it easy to spot, it has almost no stem and is comprised primarily of its long almost cylindrical dome-like “cap”, and is hollow all through the center, from stem to crown. With an extremely spongy and rippled appearance it has been likened to both honey-combs and coral. Coloring can range from a tannish gray to very dark brown. They are favored for their uniquely rich and intense earthy flavor (with hazelnut undertones), and a very woodsy almost smoky aroma. Their sponge-like texture is still firm and they have a good meaty quality to their flesh.

Morel’s are not to be eaten raw, yet they only require a very light cooking to make the most of their unique and layered flavoring, a simple sauté with butter can showcase them well (more mature Morel’s will need a slightly longer cooking time as they get tougher/chewier as they mature). High in both Protein and Fiber, Morels also have significant amounts of Vitamins B, D, E, and K, along with Manganese and Iron.

Tips: Morel’s are almost always gathered from the wild and its important to note that unlike their other fungi friends, Morel’s peak in the Spring as opposed to the Fall (which is when you’ll find a lot of your other favorite wild varieties).

 

Cultivated Favorites:

More of our favorite Mushrooms varietals, and while still occasionally found in the wild, these ones are primarily cultivated:

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It’s no surprise, given its various names (French Horn Mushroom, King Oyster Mushroom, and Trumpet Royal), that the King Trumpet is the largest varietal in the Oyster family of Mushrooms. They are easily recognizable by their large thick cylindrical stem (the stem is much larger in comparison to the cap size than that of other varietals). The white stem flares into cream colored gills along the underside of a grayish tan to light brown colored cap. They are a robust and firm mushroom with a dense spongey texture and a very mild nutty (almost bland) flavor when raw. Once cooked they develop a savory meat-like umami flavor and their dense flesh develops a softer, more melting texture.

Its meaty quality makes the King Trumpet conducive to a wide variety of cooked applications, including being grilled, braised, sautéed, stir fried, or added to soups and stews – they are particularly great seared ala scallops. Both the stems and the caps are edible and equal in texture and flavor.

"intuitive forager" "food blog" "farmers market" "food blogger" "produce blog" "farmers market blog" "cooking with" "recipes" "creative recipes" "cooking with" "health benefits" “farm to table” “downtown 3rd farmers market” “california family farms” “the farm at Malibu” "mushrooms" "gourmet mushrooms" "cooking with mushrooms" "types of mushrooms" "guide to edible mushrooms" "culinary mushrooms" "mushroom guide" "maitake mushroom" "maitake" "maitake mushrooms"Maitake Mushrooms:

Also known as the Dancing Mushroom or Hen of the Woods, Maitake Mushroom’s are easily recognizable by their unique appearance, resembling a plant more than other mushroom varietals with their multi layered, leaf-shaped fruiting body. Their coloring runs from white to dark cream to brown and depends on the amount of sunlight they’ve been exposed to, and their texture is a nice medium firm and wonderfully succulent. They are favored for their rich and savory flavor which combines layers of earthiness with both spicy and fruity notes (they also absorb the other flavors they are cooked with).

Maiktake’s are also extremely versatile in the kitchen as they can be used in both raw and cooked applications and their texture holds up well to variety of cooking methods including being baked, grilled, roasted, sautéed, and deep or stir fried.

Maitake Mushrooms boost the immune system (and have been ingested in China your hundreds of years as an immune system stimulant) and limits or reverses tumor growth (recent studies in both the US and Japan have proven it to contain an antibiotic with anti-HIV properties).

"intuitive forager" "food blog" "farmers market" "food blogger" "produce blog" "farmers market blog" "cooking with" "recipes" "creative recipes" "cooking with" "health benefits" “farm to table” “downtown 3rd farmers market” “california family farms” “the farm at Malibu” "mushrooms" "gourmet mushrooms" "cooking with mushrooms" "types of mushrooms" "guide to edible mushrooms" "culinary mushrooms" "mushroom guide" "shitake mushrooms" "shiitake mushroom" "shiitake mushrooms"Shiitake Mushrooms:

Next to the Button Mushroom, the Shiitake is the second most widely cultivated and consumed Mushroom the world over. It has a typical “umbrella” mushroom shape to it, with a uniformly round stem topped by a wide flat cap with a characteristically curled edge. They can range in color from a rich golden tan to a dark brown, but most commonly feature a brown topped cap, with a tan to cream underside, stem, and flesh. The caps are known for their smooth meaty flesh which has a rich and earthy umami flavor with smoky undertones.

Shiitake’s are one of the larger culinary varietals (their caps can get up to 8-10 inches across), and the meaty caps both sauté and fry well (you’ll want to cook them prior to eating). The stems are too tough to be edible but are frequently used in stocks. Although cultivated, Shiitake’s maintain a woodsy almost pine aroma (which is enhanced once cooked) and along with their rich earthy flavor, makes them a good go-to for recipe’s calling for “Wild Mushrooms”.

Shiitake Mushrooms have been cultivated for over 2,000 years and have long been used for medicinal purposes. They are vitamin and mineral rich, with especially high levels of Vitamins B2, B12, and D, and antioxidant properties which have been used to fight certain forms of cancer.

Cooking with Mushrooms:

"intuitive forager" "food blog" "farmers market" "food blogger" "produce blog" "farmers market blog" "cooking with" "recipes" "creative recipes" "cooking with" "health benefits" “farm to table” “downtown 3rd farmers market” “california family farms” “the farm at Malibu” "mushrooms" "gourmet mushrooms" "cooking with mushrooms" "types of mushrooms" "guide to edible mushrooms" "culinary mushrooms" "mushroom guide"There are many creative and delicious ways to cultivate the use of Wild Mushrooms in your Kitchen – here’s a few of our favorites from the Web to get you started: (Clockwise from Upper Left):

Mushrooms with Bearnaise Yogurt:

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/mushrooms-with-bearnaise-yogurt

Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Chanterelles:

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/grilled-brussels-sprouts-with-chanterelles

Ricotta, Kale and Mushroom Toast:

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/ricotta-kale-and-mushroom-toast

Fresh and Wild Mushroom Stew:

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015198-fresh-and-wild-mushroom-stew

"intuitive forager" "food blog" "farmers market" "food blogger" "produce blog" "farmers market blog" "cooking with" "recipes" "creative recipes" "cooking with" "health benefits" “farm to table” “downtown 3rd farmers market” “california family farms” “the farm at Malibu” "mushrooms" "gourmet mushrooms" "cooking with mushrooms" "types of mushrooms" "guide to edible mushrooms" "culinary mushrooms" "mushroom guide"Some of our favorite creative entree recipes from the Web featuring Mushrooms as the star: (Clockwise from upper left):

Mushroom and Burrata Lasagnette:

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/mushroom-and-burrata-lasagnette

Mushroom Paella with Kale and Eggs:

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/mushroom-paella-with-kale-and-eggs

Wild Mushroom, Watercress, and Blue Cheese Tarte:

http://www.foodrepublic.com/recipes/wild-mushroom-watercress-and-blue-cheese-tart-recipe/

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce:

https://pinchofyum.com/butternut-squash-mushroom-enchiladas-with-tomatillo-sauce

 

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!

 

Getting Creative with Beans: From Summer to Fall Favorites

If you subscribe to our newsletters than you’ve probably read quite a bit about some of our favorite Summer bean varietals over the past few months, but as of yet we hadn’t combined all the deliciousness into one Blog. Now we’ve added some additional late Summer, and early Fall favorites into the mix so your beany culinary dreams can reach new heights as you contemplate all these unique and flavorful options (all of which are still available through the end of Summer). So here’s the rundown on how to recognize your favorites, what the differences are in terms of flavor and texture, and why you should give some of these more unusual beans a chance!

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Their vibrant and colorful red-pink hue gives the Cranberry Bean its name

Cranberry Beans – Cranberry shelling bean pods are easy to spot with their speckled red and yellow shell, and include an average of 5-6 ivory colored beans per pod (which are also highlighted with the bright red dapples of the exterior). When raw, the beans are fairly earthy, with a starchy and grassy flavor – however, once cooked the beans develop a creamy texture and rich, sweet, chestnut-like flavor. They can be harvested fresh as a pod, or left on the vines and used as dried beans.

Either, fresh or dried, Cranberry beans are great in the kitchen. Once shelled, fresh ones can be canned, pickled, or frozen – and cooked, where upon they absorb the accompanying flavors around them, making them a great companion to bold and savory ingredients. Simmer them in chicken stock until tender and creamy and then use them tossed with roasted veggies and crispy gnocchi, stew them into a ragout with fresh corn and tomatoes, or puree with sorrel into a soup.

They pair great with strong and salty or sour flavors like Pancetta and bacon, artichoke hearts, citrus, as well as both Mild and Hot Chiles. Basil and Cilantro are great herbs to use with them, and Aged Pecorino and Feta are the most complimentary cheeses.

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Another bean featuring a colorful shell, this Dutch heirloom bean has an incomparable nutty and mild flavor

Dragon Tongue Beans –  Dragon Tongue Beans are entirely edible including the bean, shell, and seed. The younger beans are a yellow to cream color, and when their purple markings begin to appear they’ve reached a mature enough stage to harvest. These fresh and immature pods have a succulent and crisp texture and typically contain 4-5 white seeds with small purple to pink stripes, and which are snappy and firm with a sweet and nutty, and slightly starchy flavor. As mentioned, these immature beans can be eaten in their entirety – either fresh or cooked (note: when cooked they will lose their bright purple coloring). If left to mature fully, the purple on the beans will change to a deep red, and these more mature seeds can be shelled and used as is, or they are ideal for leaving in their pods to dry and later use as a dried bean.

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Purple Haricot Vert Beans

French Filet Beans – Is a term given to an array of varietals of immature green beans which are primarily cultivated for their pods versus their seeds. Harvested young, these stringless edible pods come in both purple and green (although when cooked the purple loses its hue). Known for their crisp texture and earthy bright flavor with just a hint of sweetness, these beans are great served raw when young and tender, or only lightly cooked to preserve their crisp texture.

 

 

"intuitive forager" "farmers markets" "downtown 3rd" “downtown 3rd farmers market”  "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” "beans" "legumes" "scarlet runner beans"
The pink to purple variegated coloring of the seeds make these an attractive favorite

Scarlet Runner Beans – The long and large bright green pods of the Scarlet Runner hide a deceptively unique and beautiful bean within. The kidney shaped beans inside range in color from purple to violet to light pink to almost vibrant fuscia – and are often a speckled blend of the two. Once cooked the starchy beans are creamy with a strong nutty savory flavor. Both the bean pods and their striking (often scarlet) flowers are edible as well, with a mild bean flavor.

Because of their large size and heartier skin, Scarlet Runner Beans take a little longer than your average bean to cook. Shelled beans should be booked before eating, and if using dry ones they’ll benefit from an overnight soaking before cooking. Their large size and starchiness also make them a popular source of protein in vegan and vegetarian dishes.

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Purple and Green Chinese Long Beans

Yardlong Beans – Also referred to as Yardbeans, Long, or Chinese Long beans, they come in purple, green and light green. The average length is anywhere between one and one and a half feet long. They taste similar to green beans, their texture is distinct. The beans are best cooked with oil: sauteed, stir-fried, or deep-fried, where their flavor intensifies and their texture remains tight and juicy.

 

 

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Wax Beans are most common in their Yellow and Purple varietals

Yellow Wax Beans – These long yellow wheat colored pods are stringless and house small bright lime green legumes (which despite their name are not particularly wax-ey). Typically harvested young, they are known for their succulent, crisp and yet tender texture and sweet earthy flavor, with both grassy and nutty undertones. In terms of prep and cooking, treat them as you would classic green beans or french beans. These have a particularly radiant yellow color and fresh sappy flavor and come to us from Brentwood, CA.

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.

"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” "black mission figs" "black figs"
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

Mix It Up this Summer with a Summer Squash Mix – Now In!!

 

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First of the Season – Summer Squash is Here!

 

A wide array of varietals can make up your Seasonal Summer Squash Mixes – from Green and Yellow Patty Pans, to Eight-Balls and Gold Bar, to Gold and Green Zucchini, and more – all ranging widely in appearance, yet maintaining a similarity of texture and flavor – with only subtle differences between varieties. Summer Squash is characterized by its youth, as they are all varieties of Squash harvested while still immature (hence why you will also hear of them referred to as “babies”) to ensure ideal flavor, moisture, and a thinner, more tender and edible skin. Unlike Winter Squash which is allowed to mature fully, the immature Summer Squashes have a much shorter shelf life so need to be used soon after harvesting.

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Treated as a Vegetable, Squash is technically Fruit, since its seeds are bared within the flesh.

Squash is part of the Cucurbita (latin for Gourd) family, and although originating in the Andes and Mesoamerica, it made its way to the US primarily via Italy where the Summer Varieties (especially Zucchini) first gained popularity after being brought back by early Spanish and Italian explorers of the New World.

Around World War I it started to be used and cultivated in the US, and quickly gained popularity. After “baby carrots” started the baby veggie craze in the 1980’s, the Summer Squashes (harvested young to achieve their ideal flavor and texture) finally hit their stride – baby green Zucchini becoming one of the most popular squashes commercially in the US.

Now its time to check out some of our favorites you’ll see in at the Market over the next month, starting with the most popular of Summer Squash’s: Zucchini (and make sure you scroll all the way down and explore some of our favorite recipes for Summer Squash from the web).

Green and Yellow Zucchini Squash:

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Golden/Yellow Zucchini Squash: has a smooth and glossy bright yellow skin, with a punch of light green at both the stem and blossom ends, and a tapered cylindrical shape. The interior flesh is a creamy white with a firm texture and a light earthy flavor with nutty undertones, and a mild sweetness which increases when cooked. Like the green varietals, Golden Squash is at its ideal flavor when harvested in its less mature phases (usually 5” and under).

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Gold Bar Summer Squash, a type of Yellow/Golden Zucchini

Gold Bar Zucchini: Is a straight neck varietal of Golden/Yellow Zucchini (and often referred to simply as Yellow Summer Squash or Yellow Zucchini). Long and slender, it has a glossy and smooth vibrant yellow skin (sometimes with a lighter yellow striping running lengthwise), capped at both ends by bright green. Its creamy white flesh is firm yet succulent and contains a super moist seed cavity, and has a light grassy and nutty flavor, highlighted by a mild sweetness. They are typically harvested like other Zucchini’s, at early-maturity, when the flavor is at its best and the skin is still thin and tender – making it unnecessary to peel or remove it prior to eating.

Cooking with Zucchini: Sharing very similar flavoring and textures, both green and yellow varieties of Zucchini Squash can be used (for the most part) interchangeably in either raw or cooked culinary applications. The skin is delicate enough that it need not be removed (unless its been allowed to reach full maturity on the vine, but these larger fruits are not commonly found for sale as their uses are limited).

Sliced it can be used raw and added to salads or cooked: sautéed, roasted, grilled, baked, fried or steamed. The larger more mature fruits are ideal for halving and hollowing, then stuffing and baking. Zucchini is also being used more and more as a pasta alternative (by spiralizing or slicing thinly), and it’s a longtime favorite of the baker – grated and added to breads, muffins, bars and even cookies – as well as fritters, pancakes, and soups. Sliced or chopped it can act as a topping to pizzas, flatbreads, pastas and rice dishes. Slice and layer with some of your other favorite summertime veggies and bake into a delicious summer gratin or lasagna.

Zucchini Nutrition: Very low in calories (1 cup sliced equates to only about 20 calories), Zucchini Squash is composed primarily of water (up to 95%) – making it a perfect summer refresher. It’s also a source of both Vitamins A & C (and some B vitamins), along with Calcium, Iron, Potassium and Dietary Fiber. The yellow varietals also derive their coloring from a higher Carotenoid content, an antioxidant that can also be converted into Vitamin A in the body.

 

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Green and Yellow Eight-Ball Squash:

Yellow Eight-Ball: Its vibrant yellow skin is sweet and tender and gives way to a creamy white flesh, similar in flavor to the larger yellow Straight Neck Squash. Ranging in size from 2-4 inches, the larger they get the firmer they become (and making them more ideal for stuffing), while the smaller ones have the most flavorful and sweetest flesh. If they get too much beyond 4-5 inches in size they can develop a rougher drier woody texture with large and hard inedible seeds.

In the kitchen you can substitute Yellow Eight Ball in for Yellow Crookneck, Gold Bar, or Zucchini in most recipes. The more petite size are ideal for roasting or skewering and grilling, while the slightly larger sized ones are great for scooping out and stuffing and baking.

Green Eight-Ball: A deep green, with lighter green mottling, the Eight-Ball Squash gets its name from its almost perfectly circular shape. The flesh is a creamy ivory with the same moist seed cavity as the Yellow varietal. The flavor is sweet and buttery (similar to Zucchini) with nutty undertones that become more pronounced when they’re cooked. They typically run 2-4 inches in diameter, with the smaller ones having the richest and sweetest flavor and the larger size a more firm flesh making them perfect for stuffing.

In the kitchen Green Eight-Ball Squash fills a similar role, and can easily be substituted for Zucchini in most recipes, and may be baked, roasted, grilled, or steamed. As mentioned above, the firmer flesh of the slightly larger ones, make the perfect size for scooping them out and filling with your favorite combination of cheeses, meats, nuts, grains, or other veggies.

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Green and Yellow Patty Pan Squash

Another Summer Squash mix favorite, Patty Pan is easy to spot by its distinct shape, resembling a squashed or flattened Pumpkin, or a sort of scalloped UFO (it’s name comes from its resemblance to a classic crimped baking pan), it is often also referred to as Scallop or Scallopini Squash, and it comes in Green, Yellow, and White varietals. With a crisp and succulent creamy white flesh, the smaller younger fruits (yes technically they are a fruit) have the moist seed cavities Patty Pan are known for – along with the slightly grassy and bright sweet flavor that is preferred (both Yellow and Green have similar flavor profiles, the Yellow having a slightly brighter first bite with mild peppery undertones). The larger and more mature the squash, the dryer the flesh and thicker the skin become, with their flavor sometimes even developing slight bitter undertones.

It’s the moistness of the barely developed seed cavities of the younger fruits that create a juicier and more refreshing flesh, and give them their powerful hydrating punch – perfect for the heat of Summer!

Patty Pan lends itself to a variety of culinary applications, as it can be baked, steamed, grilled, sautéed, or roasted, and its thin skin is delicate enough to consume. Like other Summer Squash, you can chop or slice it, use it whole, hallow and stuff it, or even puree and add to sauces, soups, curries, or juicing concoctions.

"summer squash" "summer squash mix"Summer Squash Nutrition: Low in calories and high in water content like all Summer Squash varietals, both the Eight-Ball and Patty Pan Squash varieties contain dietary Fiber,  as well as Magnesium, Potassium, Folic Acid along with Vitamins A & C.  The yellow varietals also contain additional antioxidants and nutrients, including Vitamins C & K within the skin (all varietals carry the majority of their nutrients within the skin, so its important to leave the skin on in order to receive the maximum nutritional benefit).

 

Getting Creative in the Kitchen with Summer Squash:

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Some of our favorite appetizer and small plate recipes from the web – all starring Summer Squash of course! Clockwise from upper left:

Parmesan Summer Squash Chips:

https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a19809582/parmesan-squash-chips-recipe/

Patty Pan Squash with Eggs:

https://www.thekitchn.com/look-pattypan-squash-with-eggs-94165

Roasted Garlic Parmesan Zucchini, Squash, and Tomatoes:

https://www.cookingclassy.com/roasted-garlic-parmesan-zucchini-squash-and-tomatoes/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+CookingClassy+(Cooking+Classy)

Lemon Poppy Seed Summer Squash Bread:

http://thewanderlustkitchen.com/summer-squash-bread/

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Some of our favorite entres and small plate recipes from the web – all starring Summer Squash of course! Clockwise from upper left:

Summer Salad Recipe: Squash Ribbons:

https://www.thekitchn.com/summer-salad-recipe-squash-rib-119479

Cheesy Zucchini and Summer Squash Pasta Bake:

http://www.vodkaandbiscuits.com/2016/05/20/cheesy-zucchini-summer-squash-pasta-bake/

Pesto Spaghetti with Summer Squash:

https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a47847/pesto-spaghetti-with-summer-squash-recipe/

Potato, Squash & Goat Cheese Gratin:

https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-potato-squash-goat-cheese-gratin-90647

 

The Big Green Bus: Bringing us Ajo Rojo Garlic up from the Baja!

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Up From the Baja, and just in time for tomorrow’s Downtown 3rd Farmers Market: Ajo Rojo Garlic is Here!

How excited are we?! The Green Bus is once again making its annual
trip back up to us from the Baja – filled to the gills with a rare treat – Ajo Rojo Garlic!!

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It is the first crop and annual harvest of organic Ajo Rojo – or Red Garlic – a variety direct from Baja and carrying with it the magical hues of the desert sunset in its violet hues. With Restaurants and Top Chefs alike clamoring for the Green Bus’ yearly arrival – this garlic is sold in small limited editions, and so truly is as exclusive as it comes.

Fed by volcanic spring water of the Baja Peninsula Mountains, eating this Garlic is tantamount to the taste of the Holy Grail (in terms of Garlic that is).

 

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With the “Giant Green Bus” Baja Rojo Garlic Forager and the Intuitive Forager meet on the “Road (most definitely) Less Traveled”! Lucky You Las Vegas!!

Garlic Forager, Rae, and her children have been ‘tending ‘ the annual harvest of Spanish Rojo Garlic for over 10 years. After sitting in their familial circle cleaning and braiding the jewel of Garlic, they load up their giant green converted school bus and head to destinations such as a meet-up with Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby.  Of course, there is always a festive meal prepared by all using the Rojo when Rae and Kerry meet – and we can only hope they share the recipe with us this year 🙂

This exceptional Garlic only comes to us once a year so make sure and get your hands on a parcel of this hand harvested heirloom treat!!

 

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Available at Friday’s Downtown 3rd Farmers Market from 9am-2pm
Don’t forget PARKING IS FREE on Friday’s for Farmers Market Customers during Market Hours!!

Oh Snap – Sugar Snap Peas are Here!

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A Sure Sign of Spring: Sugar Snap Peas are Here!

Oh Snap! The Intuitive Forager, Kerry Clasby, describes these Spring (and Chef) favorites in four perfect words: “Fresh, snappy, crunchy, and sweet”. And the best news of all? They will be in for this Friday’s Downtown 3rd Farmers Market, so get ready to grab your own bag full and try out some of the delicious recipes below!

Entirely edible podded peas, Sugar Snap Peas are a hybrid developed during the 1950’s by crossing the Chinese Snow Pea with a Mutant Pea plant – resulting in an extra snappy and plump sweet pea. Their crispy small pods are firm with a smooth green surface and a thicker pod wall (giving them extra plump-ness) and are known for that fresh, snappy, and crunchy sweet flavor.

All of this makes them a go-to in the Kitchen, and for use in a wide variety of dishes and preparations. Toss them into a fresh green salad for additional flavor and texture, or use them in a cold and fresh chilled pea salad. In addition to fresh eating they can also be steamed or stir-fried, and make a great side dish beside your favorite entrees, or as an ingredient into soups or stews.

"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” "Sugar snap peas" "snap peas" "spring peas"Notes on buying and prepping fresh Sugar Snap Peas:

Before cooking or eating, fully mature pods may need to be de-stringed, which means removing the stem and the “string” (a tough membranous string which runs from top to bottom along the seam of the pod). In terms of quantity you can expect the average pod to contain anywhere from 4-8 peas. Try and use them within a week of purchase, and keep them stored in a plastic bag in the fridge.

 

Sugar Snap Pea Nutrition: They are a great source of Dietary Fiber and Protein, as well as being super rich in Vitamin C. They also have significant amounts of Vitamins B and K, as well as Folate, Iron, Magnesium, and Manganese.

 

Appetizers starring Sugar Snap Peas (See further down for even more delicious recipes, including main courses featuring your Sugar Snap Peas):

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Here are a few of our Favorite Recipes from the Web that will bring out the best of your Sugar Snap Peas : (Clockwise from Upper Left)

Snap Peas with Meyer Lemon and Mint:
http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-snap-peas-with-meter-lemon-and-mint-recipes-from-the-kitchn-81633

Quinoa and Sugar Snap Pea Salad:
http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/quinoa-salad-sugar-snap-peas

Roasted Scallion & Sugar Snap Pea Spring Rolls:
http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-roasted-sugar-snap-pea-and-scallion-spring-rolls-with-tahini-sauce-recipes-from-the-kitchn-203330

Snap Pea Chips:
http://www.cottercrunch.com/how-to-make-homemade-snap-pea-chips/

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Healthier Orange Chicken with Sugar Snap Peas (Recipe Runners)

https://reciperunner.com/healthier-orange-chicken/

Quinoa Confetti Salad with Sugar Snap Peas and Toasted Pepitas:

https://www.kitchentreaty.com/quinoa-confetti-salad-with-sugar-snap-peas-toasted-pepitas/#recipe

Sauteed Ramps, Sugar Snap Peas, and Patty Pan Squash (From Delish):

http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a11445/sauteed-ramps-sugar-snap-peas-pattypan-squash-opr0410-recipe/

Snap Pea Skewers with Soy-Ginger Sauce (Naturally Ella):

https://naturallyella.com/snap-pea-skewers-with-soy-ginger-sauce/

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