This Week in Produce

Updated every Friday

Last Updated: October 24, 2014

Welcome to the weekend, my favorite produce readers! It is truly the fall food season here in the department, and we have a ton of new seasonal items to tell you about.

But first, it is time again for my new tradition, "Winter Squash Recipe of the Week". I know that it can be hard this time of year to find that one winter squash that you truly love, especially since we have a dozen different varieties right now. I chose delicata as my squash pick of the week because I truly love how no-nonsense it is to cook. Sometimes known as the winter squash for lazy cooks, (yes, that's me!), delicata does not require peeling, and it is much softer than other varieties, making it much easier to cut into halves, slices, or chunks. Delicata is also the only squash variety of which I would recommend eating the skin; it cooks down quickly, and you can barely notice the texture.

Delicata is the squash I choose for roasting with other veggies. It is mild and sweet, and really absorbs surrounding flavors. Plus there is no peeling or scooping needed. This recipe is great because it pairs well as a versatile side dish, but is also easily adaptable to be the main course. This weekend I am going to try it combined with the Harmony Valley soup mix bag. I can just picture all those fabulous fall flavors roasting together, and now I can't wait to get cooking!

Another fall tradition that I am excited about are the absolutely lovely organic brussels sprouts from EZ Farming, located in Viroqua, WI. I hate that brussels sprouts get such a bad reputation because they are one of my favorite veggies. At my house we always roast them on the stove top with butter, garlic, salt, and sometimes little chunks of bacon. These local sprouts have the most vibrant flavor you will find all year, so this is the time to get them.

Cranberries are also here, fresh in from the Wisconsin bogs. I'm not a big baker--I'm far too impatient--but I love cranberries and I always buy them every year. We usually put them in the food dehydrator and make craisins, perfect for adding to your morning cereal or take on the go as a snack. We also use them in making homemade fruit leathers and put them in smoothies. And don't forget the holidays are just around the corner, so now is the time to practice all of those new holiday recipes to impress your friends and family!

Quince is now in stock for the weekend. Quince is the preserver's best friend; too sour and firm to eat raw, it is chocked full of pectin, which is a key ingredient needed for making jellies, marmalades, and other fruit preserves. It works well in marinades too, and I might even try my hand at making apple butter this year...maybe. Here is a great link to help get you started on trying all things quince this fall!

Another wonderful new addition to our weekend line-up of produce are the ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS oyster mushrooms from local grower Fruits, Nuts and Vegetables LLC.The pink oyster mushrooms are so beautiful, they look like they're from another planet.

If you have been regularly reading This Week in Produce, you know that I am a total geek for cooking (and eating!) mushrooms, and these oysters are no exception. They have a pleasant and mild flavor, often described as a little sweet and woodsy, along with a pleasant meaty texture that makes a wonderful meat substitute, perfect for stir fries, soups, and grilling. The mildness of the flavor and pleasant texture of the oysters are a real winner for those who are apprehensive about cooking with some of the less common fungi.

Last on the list for great local and seasonal things to check out for the weekend are the chestnuts. Organic chestnuts from Iowa are a fall and winter holiday staple around here. I usually try to include them in my stuffing at Thanksgiving, but there are many many ways to prepare them; from appetizers to main dishes to dessert.

A couple of non-local items that are still definitely worth mentioning this weekend reside in the fruit section. Both the Fuyu and Hachiya persimmons are now in stock. Fuyus are flat and squat and can be enjoyed from a more firm texture until they get very soft. Hachiya are oval shaped and are quite tart unless they are so soft they are jelly-like. I love them in marinades for meat dishes, but they are also wonderful on salads or mixed into yogurt.

Citrus seems to be arriving a little ahead of schedule this year, which I know many of you are excited about. We now have organic white grapefruit in stock, along with non-organic Texas Rio-Star. The Meyer lemons and sweet limes have arrived this week as well.

I want to thank everyone who made it out to our pumpkin patch last Saturday, it was a huge success and we had a lot of fun!

Lastly, another plug for the Wedge's Twitter, where you can now get daily produce updates from me! Look for the #ProfProduce to find out what's new in stock, what we love, and our favorite recipes and tips. Never miss your favorite items again!

Have a great weekend, the weather looks beautiful and we can't wait to see you here!