Hello, January 2019!

Grocery shopping is already a pretty time consuming task, but not knowing what to buy when you get there can be overwhelming and pricey during this time of year.

Just know that purchasing seasonal foods is a healthy and cost effective way to approach food shopping, because when you are buying season, the prices at the markets will at the lowest. Also note that supermarkets and grocery stores will also tend to stock up on these items in bulk because they are plentiful, making them less expensive for you—especially when they go on sale.

And remember, you can enjoy the taste of any fruit and vegetable the year-round. Whether is it fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and 100% juiced—-it all counts!

So at the beginning of each month, we will feature a fruit or vegetable that is season with a few recipes that may spark your interest and please your palate. We just want to help make shopping for seasonal foods a little easier in making your grocery list for the weekly trip to the store, a s well a helping out your wallet!

Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables for January:

 

Apples
Beets
Belgian Endive
Brussels Sprouts
Buttercup Squash
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Chicory
Clementines
Dates
Delicata Squash
Grapefruit
Jerusalem Artichokes
Kale
Kiwifruit
Leeks
Lemons
Oranges
Mandarin Oranges
Parsnips
Passion Fruit
Pears
Persimmons
Pineapples
Pomegranates
Potatoes
Red Currants
Rhubarb
Satsumas
Spinach
Sweet Potatoes
Swiss Chard
Tangelos
Tangerines
Turnips
Winter Squash

 

Advertisements

Hello November!

Hello-november-be-good

November’s seasonal produce promises some new excitement. Plenty of tasty things grow in colder weather and tropical climates. Look for fruits and vegetables to add a burst of color and flavor to your fall menu. Walnuts are a special thing. In season for just a few weeks in autumn, these fresh nuts – as opposed to the dry ones you can get in the shops – have a milky taste with a slight crunch, and are delicious just as they are. From humble roots and orchard fruits to striking brassicas, take a look at which seasonal fruits and vegetables our wonderful local farmers are harvesting this month.

Happy Shopping!

Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables for November:

Apples
Artichokes
Arugula
Brussel Sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celeriac
Celery
Clementines
Cranberries
Dates
Endive
Figs
Garlic
Kale
Leeks
Lettuce
Onions
Parsnips
Pears
Peppers
Persimmons
Potatoes
Pumpkins
Radishes
Rutabaga
Squash
Sweet Potato
Swiss Chard
Turnips
Welt Walnuts
Watercress

This Month’s Featured Vegetable:
Onions!

onions2

Photo Credit: Taste Insight, 2017.

While onions may have a reputation for their pungent aroma, they certainly pack a punch when it comes to flavor – raw or cooked.

They are among the most common staples found in kitchens across the globe. Why? Because they are an essential base for so many great, flavorful meals from Indian classics to Canadian cuisine, and are incredibly diverse in their use.

Onions are a key ingredient in everything from soup to Greek salad and can even bring sweetness to a decadent chip dip. The limit for their use is your own gastronomic imagination.

Varieties of Onions

There is an abundance of onions currently available, but the most common are: yellow cooking onions, large red and white onions, green onions or scallions, and Vidalia onions. Pearl, cipollini and shallots are smaller onion varieties that add a slightly sweet-smelling scent and flavour to many sauces and vinaigrettes.

        Yellow

  • Yellow cooking onions are the most common in Canada. Most recipes that call for “onion” are generally referring to yellow onions because these are an excellent choice for cooking and caramelizing. Mild tasting and quite sweet in flavor (especially between March and August) these onions are available year round, however, those harvested between September through to February tend to be pungent and stronger in flavor. Their versatility means they can be enjoyed raw, lightly cooked, sautéed, grilled, baked and roasted.

yellow onion

        Red

  • Red onions are a popular choice when raw onions are called for, thanks to their pretty color and overall mild flavor. They also leave less of an after taste then yellow onions. They are best enjoyed raw or lightly cooked.

Red-Onions

     White

  • These onions have a slightly different composition so they don’t store as well as their yellow cousins. They are commonly enjoyed in white sauces and in salads as they have a clean flavor. They are best consumed raw, or lightly cooked.

white

      Green

  • When a less intense onion flavor is required, green onions are the answer. They can be eaten raw or cooked and the entire onion can be consumed, if desired. Available year round, be sure to look for brightly colored, undamaged leaves with firm stem ends.

green-onions-store

      Vidalia Onions

  • People who like onions but dislike the potent taste will find sweet onions a happy alternative. These crisp onions are ideal for eating raw, but when caramelized can add a deep, rich sweetness to a variety of dishes. In season, between April and September, look for onions that are firm and free of bruises.

vidalia.png

Shallots

  • Shallots are used in cooking in addition to being pickled. Finely sliced, deep-fried are used as a condiment in Asian cuisine, often served with porridge. As a species of Allium, shallots taste somewhat like a common onion, but have a milder flavor. Like onions, when sliced, raw shallots release substances that irritate the human eye, resulting in production of tears.

shallots

 

 

Onions Go Well With……

Onions are an important aromatic and go well with almost everything.

They taste great sautéed in butter, and also go well with bacon, bread, cheese, cream, milk, garlic, oil, pepper, and thyme.

They also very complimentary to foods like mushrooms, beef, beets, cucumbers and herbs such as dill, sage, mint, parsley, rosemary, cilantro, oregano and basil.

Onions are a great base for almost all soups and sauces.

 

Serving Ideas

Caramelized onions take some time to cook but they have a multitude of applications. Spread them on sandwiches or flat bread, or add them to pizza or pasta for a hint of savory sweetness.

Create a decadent side dish with just a few ingredients. This celery root and onion gratin will compliment a special meal or provide comfort during a cold evening.

Soup isn’t complete without onions. Check out our roasted pumpkin soup, tomato-basil soup or broccoli soup for seasonal and satisfying lunch and dinner inspiration.

Go beyond the classic baked potato and impress guests by creating a restaurant-worthy dish with simple ingredients that taste very gourmet. Everyone will love these chorizo, onion and cheese-stuffed potato boats.

This cheesy herbed potato bread with caramelized onions makes a wonderful side for dinner and the best vessel for your favorite sandwich fillings.

This recipe for sautéed mushrooms and onions is the perfect side to accompany a juicy steak. The mushrooms are well seasoned to stand up to the big robust flavors of the beef.  You can use button mushrooms, cremini, or a combination of your favorite mushroom mix.

 

How To Select and Store Onions

Onions have dry, papery skin and vary in size, shape and color. They should feel firm, and be void of any sprouts forming at the top, powdery patches, or black spots on the skins. Another way to test the freshness of an onion is to sniff it: if it doesn’t carry that typical ‘onion’ scent, you know your product is good.

All varieties of onions should be stored in a cool and dry space with plenty of ventilation. Although onions have a low rate of respiration, take care not to store them in plastic bags otherwise they will create a moist environment and breed mold.

Important to note: the urban myth that pre-cut onions will make you ill is just that – a myth! Tightly wrap leftover cut onions in plastic wrap, and keep them in your refrigerator. Be sure to use within the week.

 

 

How To Prepare Onions

To chop an onion like a pro, follow this simple guide:

Cut both the top and root ends off the onion. Then, cut in half lengthwise and peel off the paper skin.

Place the cut side of the onion half down on the cutting board and secure in a stable position using your fingers.

Slice, dice, chop, quarter or mince as per your recipe directions.

Here’s a clever tip: to reduce tearing, chill your onions in the refrigerator for up to 30 minutes before cutting into the onion.

Yield: one medium onion will give you approximately 1 cup of chopped onion.

Onion Tips

Onions are one of the most common base ingredients for stir-fries, soups, stews and sauces.

If you find your cutting board smelling slightly like onion even after cleaning it, give it a good scrub with baking soda and water. Alternatively, you can rub it with the flesh of half a lemon.

Eating parsley will help neutralize the smell of onion on your breath. However, cooked onion leave virtually no lingering odor.

Try grating an onion into your hamburger meat. As the burgers cook, the onion will add moisture and flavor.

To mellow the flavor of sliced raw onion, run it under cold running water. This is a great trick for salsa and salads.

According to the National Onion Association, onions bring tears to your eyes due to sulfuric compounds when cut. They recommend that you chill your onions for about 30 minutes before slicing them and cut into the root end of the onion last to reduce this effect. To minimize their pungency, soak in ice water for up to an hour or run under cold water before for at least 1 minute.

 

Onion Nutritional Information

According to the Canadian Nutrient file, 250 mL (1 cup) of raw onion contains 49 calories; 11.3 g of carbohydrate, 0 fat, and 1.3 g of protein, 2g of fiber and total natural sugars are 5.1 g. It provides 14% of your daily intake requirements of Vitamin C and 5% of your B6 requirement. 1 medium yellow onion (1 cup or 250 mL), sautéed, contains a great number of your daily-recommended intake of nutrients: 25% of Vitamin K, 6% of fiber (1.6 g), 3% of Vitamin C, 3% of magnesium, 3% of phosphorus, and 3% of potassium.

Source:
Produce Made Simple: Onion (2018) The Ontario Produce Marketing Association. Date Accessed October 31, 2018. https://producemadesimple.ca/storage-onions
Read More


Hello, October

hello-october

Fall is in full swing and every season has its bounty to share, as your local grocery stores are piling up autumn’s best harvests and many farmer’s markets are coming to an end. In addition to apples and the perennial favorite , pumpkins there are other types of produce that a commonly available during October. So why not take on October with a few reusable grocery bags and  a pair of sharp eyes, along with this list and seek out the fruits and vegetables that are at their peak.

Happy Shopping!

Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables for October:

Apples
Beets
Blackberries
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Butter lettuce
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Chicory
Collard greens
Corn
Cranberries
Cucumbers
Dates
Eggplant
Figs
Grapes
Kale
Kiwi
Limes
Melon
Okra
Pears
Peppers
Persimmons
Plums
Pomegranates
Potatoes
Pumpkins
Raspberries
Tomatoes
Winter Squash
Zucchini

This Month’s Featured Vegetable:
Eggplant!

Eggplant-varietiies-with-labels.png

Photo Credit: Produce Made Simple, 2018.

The eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, making it related to potatoes and tomatoes. But did you know eggplants are actually a fruit, even though they are consumed as vegetables?

Eggplants are found in many cuisines, as they have subtle flavors and meaty textures which makes them especially versatile for cooking. The flesh of an eggplant acts like a sponge, absorbing the flavor of whatever it’s cooked with.

 

Varieties of Eggplants

There are many varieties of eggplant to choose from, in various colors, shapes and sizes. They can range from small and young to large and mature.

The most common variety is the large Globe eggplant. These purple, pear-shaped eggplants have smooth and glossy skin, and are often used in hearty dishes like eggplant parmesan.

Italia eggplants look like smaller versions of the common pear-shaped variety. However, the skin and flesh is more delicate than its larger counterpart.

Japanese eggplants are long, thin, and very dark in color. They take on a soft and creamy texture when cooked, and have a mildly sweet flavor. These are best used in sautéed dishes or stir-fries.

Chinese eggplants are a bit lighter in color and are slightly less sweet than the Japanese variety. They have a meaty flesh that is ideal for sautéed dishes or stir-fries.

Indian eggplants are small and round, with dark purple skin. These tender eggplants cook quickly, and have a mild sweet flavor.

White eggplants are available in a variety similar to the large common type, as well as smaller Italian eggplants called Bianco. You can also find white Japanese eggplants. White eggplant tends to have a tougher skin and a more astringent flavor than purple ones.

Sicilian eggplant are deep purple, short and squat, and lined with ridges. Sweet and delicate in taste, these eggplants are perfect for making caponata.

 

 

What Goes Well With Eggplant?

Produce: bell pepper, coconut, garlic, ginger, lemon, onions, parsley, tomatoes, zucchini

Herbs & Spices: basil, cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, mint, parsley, pepper, rosemary, salt, thyme

Other: anchovies, bread, cheese, chickpeas, milk, olive oil, tahini paste, sesame, soy sauce, vinegar

Eggplant Serving Ideas

Eggplant is delicious hot or cold, and can be prepared in a wide variety of ways. It is excellent stuffed, grilled, roasted, au gratin, pureed, or as a casserole. It is an essential ingredient in Asian and Mediterranean cuisine, where it is often prepared with tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil. You can also use eggplant slices in place of lasagna noodles for a lower-carb family favorite!

How To Select and Store Eggplants

To check for ripeness, press lightly on the skin with your fingers; if the imprint remains visible, the eggplant is ripe and perfect for eating.

Eggplants bruise easily and should be handled carefully. Store eggplant in a perforated plastic bag in the fridge for up to one week.

To Freeze Eggplant, wash and cut into slices, then blanch. Allow the eggplant to cool completely before placing in a freezer safe bag or container and storing in the freezer. Eggplant will keep in the freezer for 6 to 8 months.

How To Prepare Eggplant

Eggplant flesh discolors quickly when cut, it’s best to cook it immediately after cutting. If you need to, you can sprinkle it with lemon juice to slow the browning process.

To reduce the bitterness of an eggplant, cut into slices and salt both halves. Weigh them down with a heavy plate for 20 minutes, then rinse to remove the excess salt and expelled liquid.

Important to note: 1 pound of eggplant = 3 ½ cups chopped or 1 ¾ cup cooked.

How to Bake Eggplant: Cut eggplant into ½ inch thick slices; brush all sides with oil. Arrange in a single layer on a shallow baking pan. Bake, uncovered, in a 450° oven until well browned and soft when pierced (20 to 30 minutes).

How to Grill Eggplant: Cut off stem end, then cut in 1½ inch-thick wedges. Grill until streaked with brown and tender when pierced (12 to 15 minutes).

How to Pan-fry Eggplant: Prepare 1 to 1¼ pounds of eggplant, cutting it into ½ inch-thick slices and sprinkle with salt. Heat 1 tablespoons of oil in a wide, non-stick, frying pan over medium heat. Add a single layer of eggplant, without crowding; cook, turning as needed, until browned on both sides and soft throughout when pierced (8 to 10 minutes). Lower heat to medium if eggplant browns too quickly.

 

 

Eggplant Tips

  • Eggplant flesh is like a sponge, so it will absorb oil very quickly when pan-frying, leaving your eggplant greasy and unevenly cooked. To avoid this, salt the cubed eggplant and let it rest in a colander for 30 minutes. Then squeeze dry between two sheets of paper towel.  Salting the eggplant will remove its moisture and pressing it will compact the eggplant making it meaty. Now it’s ready to pan-fry!
  • Another way to extract moisture before pan-frying sliced eggplant is to microwave it.  Toss eggplant with a little salt, place on a plate lined with paper towel and microwave until eggplant looks dry and slightly shriveled, about 6 to 10 minutes.
  • The longer the eggplant is cooked, the softer and silkier it will become.
  • If the skin of an eggplant is very thick, it’s best to peel it off, especially if you’re serving it in chucks or slices.
  • Eggplant browns quickly, so don’t cut it until you’re ready to cook.

Eggplant Nutrition

According to the Canadian Nutrient File, the nutritional value per 1 cup (250 ml) of boiled, drained eggplant using the daily recommended intake from Health Canada is: 6.8% folate, 5% of Vitamin B-6, 4.8% of magnesium, 3.7% of potassium, and 3.1% of copper.

Source:
Produce Made Simple: Figs (2018) The Ontario Produce Marketing Association. Date Accessed September 28, 2018. https://producemadesimple.ca/eggplant/
Read More