Skip to main content

Sacramento Boomer

Season's Eatings: Try These 3 Farm-Fresh Recipes For Yourself

Jun 04, 2019 12:25PM

Head to your neighborhood farmers’ market, or—if you’re lucky—backyard garden, for the cream of the produce crop and try your hand at making one of these farm-fresh, nutrition-packed recipes.

PEACHES

DID YOU KNOW? 

The peach originated in China, and began to travel the world through trade routes, arriving in Louisiana and Florida in the 1500s. California’s climate, particularly the Sierra foothills, is ideal for peaches. Allowed to ripen on the tree, they gain maximum sugar content. 

Grilled Peaches with Bacon, Blue Cheese, and Basil


Peaches picked too soon and kept in cold storage will soften and get juicier, but will only have the amount of sugar they had when picked. This is one of the main reasons peaches at the markets sell so quickly, because their flavor is perfect the moment you buy them. California produces 50 percent of the peaches in the U.S.; varieties can either be clingstone, where the fruit clings to the stone, or freestone, where the flesh readily twists away from the pit. Clingstone fruit is generally used for canning, but both types are available with white or golden flesh. Nectarines are a variety of peach with a smooth skin, not a cross between a peach and a plum.


NUTRITION

Peaches are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, among other things.


SELECTION AND STORAGE

Choose peaches with a rich color that may still have a slight whitish “bloom” on their surface indicating freshness. Avoid fruit with excessive softness, surface cuts, and bruises. A ripe peach will have a gentle give when touched with a sweet aroma. Peaches can be kept in the refrigerator but should be brought up to room temperature before eating. As with apples, sliced peaches will turn brown after cutting, but you can lessen this by rinsing the slices in water mixed with lemon juice. White-fleshed peaches are sweeter and less acidic than their more traditional golden counterpart. 

RECIPE: Grilled Peaches with Bacon, Blue Cheese, and Basil

Recipe by Courtney McDonald

3 large firm-ripe yellow freestone peaches 

6 slices bacon, cooked to your liking 

3 tbsp. high-quality olive oil 

3 oz. salty blue cheese, such as Bleu d’Auvergne or Roquefort 

1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves 


Preheat grill to medium-high. While grill is heating, wash the peaches, cut in half, and remove the pit. Brush the cut side of the peaches with 2 tbsp. olive oil and grill, cut side down first, until dark caramelized grill marks form—about 2 minutes. Flip the peaches over and grill on the skin side just to heat through, about 30 seconds. Transfer the grilled peaches to a serving platter and top each peach with 1/2 slice of bacon, crumbled blue cheese, torn basil leaves, and a final drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately. Serves 6


CARROTS

DID YOU KNOW? 

Americans consume an average of five pounds of carrots per year or roughly a quarter cup per week. Despite this relatively low intake, they’re the sixth most consumed vegetable in the U.S., following potatoes, tomatoes, onions, head lettuce, and sweet corn. What’s more, they provide a bevy of health benefits and are available locally in a rainbow of colors. People probably first cultivated the carrot thousands of years ago, in the area now known as Afghanistan, but it was a small, forked purple or yellow root with a bitter, woody flavor—quite different from the carrot we know today. 


NUTRITION

Carrots are perhaps best known for their beta carotene content but are also an excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C, and K, in addition to biotin, dietary fiber, molybdenum, and potassium. What’s more, they improve cardiovascular, eye, and liver health, and help to prevent cancer. Delicious raw or cooked, they’ve been shown to be remarkably heat-stable, retaining 75 percent of their nutrients when cooked. They also regulate the amount of insulin and glucose being used and metabolized by the body, providing good support for diabetics.


SELECTION AND STORAGE

Carrots should be firm, smooth, relatively straight, and bright in color. Avoid ones that are excessively cracked or forked, as well as those that are limp or rubbery. If carrots don’t have their tops attached, look at the stem end and ensure it’s not darkly colored, as this is a sign of age. Since sugars are concentrated at the carrots’ core, those with larger diameters tend to be sweeter. Cut tops off before refrigerating. Store them in the coolest part of the refrigerator in a plastic bag or wrapped in a paper towel to reduce moisture loss.

Roasted Carrots with Curry and Greek Yogurt


RECIPE: Roasted Carrots with Curry and Greek Yogurt

Recipe by Courtney McDonald

2 bunches carrots, any color

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. curry powder

3 pieces green onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 400°. While the oven is heating, trim the carrot tops and tails and scrub well. Cut large carrots in quarters lengthwise, medium carrots in half lengthwise, and leave small carrots whole. Arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Toss the carrots with the olive oil and curry powder and season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast the carrots in the preheated oven until just tender, 20-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately toss with the green onion while still hot. Set aside to cool slightly. 

When carrots are cool enough to handle, arrange them on a serving platter. Top with the fresh herbs and dollop with the Greek yogurt (you could also serve the yogurt on the side). Serve immediately. Serves 4 as a side dish.


GREEN BEANS

DID YOU KNOW?

Green bean plants originated in Peru—where they have been cultivated and eaten for at least 7,000 years—but can be found all around the world today. They initially spread through South, Central, and North America by migrating Native Americans; in the 16th century, Spanish explorers introduced them to Europe.


NUTRITION

Green beans are one of those rare vegetables we call “generational,” meaning they’re just as appealing to small children as they are to adults—whether steamed, blanched, or served in a salad or casserole—and taste best when they’re thinner than a pencil. Though the third most popular garden plant, after tomatoes and peppers, they’re often a target for insects and prone to bacterial and viral diseases, which decrease the plant’s productivity. 

Summer Bean Salad with Warm Herb Vinaigrette, Summer Squash, and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes


Luckily, many local farmers know how to grow a successful green bean crop, so we don’t have to! In addition to being an excellent source of vitamin K—which plays a role in blood clotting, wound healing, and maintaining strong bones in the elderly—they also contain manganese, vitamin C, dietary fiber, folate, and vitamin B12. What’s more, they’ve been shown to contain valuable amounts of the mineral silicon—a bone supporting and connective tissue support nutrient—in a form that makes it easier for us to absorb. Extremely low in calories, sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol, they can be eaten in large quantities without ruining your diet. 


SELECTION AND STORAGE

Unlike fruits that become sweeter the longer they stay on the tree or bush, beans are sweetest when young. If left on the vine, they wither and the seeds dry and harden. Purchase green beans that have a smooth feel and a vibrant green color, free from brown spots or bruises. They should have a firm texture and “snap” when broken. Store unwashed produce in a plastic bag in a refrigerator’s crisper drawer for up to seven days. If opting to freeze for consumption at a later date, steam them for 2-3 minutes, remove from heat, and let cool before placing in bags and freezing for 3-6 months.


RECIPE: Summer Bean Salad with Warm Herb Vinaigrette, Summer Squash, and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Recipe by Courtney McDonald

1 pint mixed cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tbsp. +1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 lb. fresh black or pink-eyed peas, or other fresh shelling beans, shelled

1 lb. fresh green beans or yellow wax beans, or combination of both, stem ends trimmed

1 medium yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise

1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely julienned

1 bunch green onion, thinly sliced (whites and greens)

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 350°. Arrange the cherry tomatoes cut side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Sprinkle half of the minced garlic, 1 tbsp. olive oil, and a pinch of the chopped fresh thyme; season with salt and pepper. Roast in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until tomatoes are slightly shriveled and caramelized. Allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the recipe.

Place the shelled peas or beans in a medium saucepot and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender—about 15 minutes. Turn off heat, add a few pinches of salt to the cooking water, and set aside to cool slightly. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the green beans/wax beans to the pot and cook over high heat until just tender—2-3 minutes. Immediately shock the beans in ice water to chill quickly. Drain and set aside.

Using a vegetable peeler, shave ribbons of the summer squash into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium heat. Add the remaining minced garlic and green onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant—about 2 minutes. Remove pot from the heat and add the lemon juice and zest, chopped parsley and basil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

In the large mixing bowl with the shaved summer squash, gently toss in the cooked black-eyed peas, blanched fresh beans, and warm herb vinaigrette. Check seasoning and adjust, if necessary. Transfer this mixture onto a large serving platter and arrange the roasted cherry tomatoes on top. Garnish with the toasted pine nuts and grated parmesan and serve. Serves 6.


For details on where to buy farm-fresh produce, wine, meat, and other products, visit placergrown.org and foothillfarmersmarket.com.

By Carol Arnold