Seasonal Produce Guides

Fresh Herbs: Growing, Buying, Storing, and Enjoying

Basil, thyme, and parsley in cans

When a recipe calls for basil and dill, do you reach for the spice rack? This summer, find out why the best cooks go to the garden instead. Their distinctive flavors and aromas enhance summer’s produce as dried, store-bought herbs never could. If you’re hesitant about  new flavors, start with a little less than a recipe indicates. If your an aficionado, lavish summer fare with herbs to your heart’s content. Here are just a few of the fresh herb-flavored recipes you’ll find on VegKitchen: more→

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Spinach: A Powerhouse Veggie

Spinach in a crate

When vegetables are rated in terms of overall nutritional value, spinach is usually among the powerhouse veggies that top the list. It’s vitamin-rich and a good source of iron and fiber.

Spinach is a cool-weather leafy green, and one of the first seasonal offerings at CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms and and farm markets, or if you’re lucky enough, from your own garden. Like any veggie that can be cooked and eaten the same day it’s pulled from the earth, just-harvested spinach is incomparable. Later in the summer, you might like to explore Malabar and other varieties referred to as summer spinach; they have larger, thicker leaves and stems, more akin to chard than its small and tender cool-weather cousins. more→

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Strawberries

Strawberries in a bowl

Few fruits offer a much sensory satisfaction as fresh strawberries. The season for good, ripe strawberries, particularly local ones, is rather fleeting compared with other fruits. The good news is that you can’t eat too much of this Vitamin C-rich fruit. The bad news is that strawberries consistently rank near the top of lists of foods most heavily sprayed with pesticides. The only answer is to buy organic strawberries. Yes, they are more expensive, but they’re usually also riper, sweeter, and juicier than mass-produced strawberries. more→

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Apples: Varieties and Benefits

Granny Smith apples

Fall pleasures abound in New York’s Hudson Valley, where I make my home: Crisp days, cool nights, dazzling foliage, pumpkins on the roadside. I love all these autumn touchstones, but one of my fondest memories is of apple-picking outings with my kids when they were young. We returned home with barrels of apples to cook into big batches of applesauce and bake into pies. more→

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How to Cook Beets (or use them raw)

Orange-glazed beets

Beets are one of those veggies that inspire passion one way or the other—you either love them or loathe them. I’ve heard people say they think beets taste “like dirt.” Yeah, maybe if you don’t peel them before eating! I’m firmly in the “love them” category, and if you are, too, here are some tips and recipes for you.  more→

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Leafy Greens of Spring

Baby bok choy

The distinct flavors of leafy vegetables such as arugula, sorrel, watercress, and others can be an invigorating treat for palates grown accustomed to the mild roots and squashes abundant in the cold season. Most spring greens are tender enough to use uncooked or very lightly steamed—all the better to showcase their clean, fresh flavors. Explore Asian greens as well, which are becoming more widely available in farm markets. more→

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Produce for the Winter Pantry and Kitchen

Onion and garlic varieties

The creative winter pantry and kitchen make liberal and imaginative use of gnarly tubers and roots, dark sturdy greens, all of the alium (onion and garlic) family, and an array of multicolored, whimsically shaped hard-shelled winter squashes. Cold-weather vegetables are true multi-taskers, capable of nourishing and sustaining us in fragrant pots of warming soups and casseroles, or simply steamed, roasted, or baked. The brilliant colors, assertive flavors and crisp textures of winter vegetables and fruits used raw or marinated in salads and slaws are also outstanding.

There are many compelling reasons to “follow the seasons” in our kitchen as we continue to learn more about healthful and responsible eating. In this country, on average, most food has traveled some 1,500 miles to reach us, all powered by petroleum. Eating seasonally means eating more regionally grown foods as they come into season, supporting local agriculture, economies, the environment and our health. And it’s delicious too! more→

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Winter Squashes

Squash varieties

There has been a proliferation of squash varieties over the last few years. Before that, butternut, acorn, and the occasional sugar pumpkin were the extent of the choices, but now, you are likely to encounter golden acorn (a sweeter, smoother cousin of the green variety), banana squash, delicata, turban, and hubbard. more→

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