This Week in Produce

Updated every Friday

Last Updated: November 21, 2014

Sorry for my absence these past few weeks, but I am back now and ready to bring you the best of the best produce advice that you will definitely want for your Thanksgiving plans this upcoming week. Usually, around this time of year, I focus This Week in Produce around "taking the headache out of Thanksgiving" because as all of us know, this time of year can be stressful and overwhelming. But this year I also want to highlight the local and seasonal items that are truly at their best right now, because those items are really what make our food healthful, delicious, and memorable.

So I will kick this year's "Taking the Headache Out of Thanksgiving" off with the arrival of the boxes of clementines and the bulk organic satsuma mandarins. Perhaps one of our most anticipated arrivals for November, these tiny, sweet, and easy to peel flavor-bombs are just what we want when the temperatures drop and the snow begins to fall. They are also a great addition to our Turkey day, because they help tide us all over while we wait for the big meal to be served.

One thing I always love to encourage everyone to get for Thanksgiving are the Harmony Valley 3lb Soup Mix bags. Full of flavor and a wonderful variety of carrots, parsnips, turnips, and rutabagas, the mixed bags are an easy way to create a tasty side dish. Plus it includes two easy to follow recipes on the back, I've made both several times and they are both wonderful and simple to prepare.

I love brussels sprouts, and they are a huge hit at my house when I roast them on the stove top. The local and organic sprouts this time of year are to die for-- packed with that wonderful 'green' flavor. Here is my recipe that I use multiple times a week while they are in season:

  • Take a pound of brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half. I rinse them in a colander after they are trimmed.
  • In a large cast iron, melt a half of a stick of butter, or a few tablespoons of bacon grease, or margarine (coconut oil is also tasty for a sweeter dish) on medium heat. Add a few cloves of minced garlic, I usually do 4-5 cloves. Let the garlic sauté for a few minutes.
  • Add the brussels sprouts, stirring to evenly coat them in the butter/margarine/oil. Cover for about four minutes, letting the steam cook the insides, while the bottom layer gets a little crispy. Flip the sprouts to get the other side nice and crispy, cover and let sit for another few minutes.
  • I let mine roast getting a little bit of charred edges, that blackened crispy crunch with the sweet and tender insides. Remove from pan and salt and pepper to taste.

Another easy roasting vegetable is carrots. Either the gorgeous rainbow carrots from Harmony Valley or the sweet and crunchy carrots from Driftless would be a perfect roasted side dish that is both easy and has a quick prep time.

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Slice your carrots (the 2 lb bags are perfect) into quarters, the long way. Combine 2 tbsp of olive, 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1/2 tsp of black pepper with the carrots in a large bag. Shake until the carrots are evenly coated. Add some minced garlic to the mix if you like.
  • Lay the carrots evenly on your foil-covered pan and bake in oven until tender, about 30 minutes. Take the carrots out and sprinkle with a few tbsp of balsamic vinegar and return to the oven. Continue baking until the liquid is absorbed, about 5-10 minutes. Let cool and serve.

Sweet potatoes are a classic dish that is always a staple at our table for the holidays. Packed with vitamin A and antioxidants, these local and organic tubers are also naturally sweet and creamy. Plus they are a snap to prepare in just a few easy steps:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Pierce your sweet potatoes/yams many times with a fork. Place them on a baking sheet lined with tin foil.
  • Bake them until tender, usually about 45 minutes.
  • Cut a slit in the sweet potato/yam, and top with your favorite ingredients. I recommend simply butter, salt and pepper--let the flavor of the yam do the work!

We also have a a fabulous variety of other local root crops available to accommodate all of your meal planning needs. Check out the huge variety of our organic and local potatoes, onions, shallots, plus turnips, radishes, and more. Not sure what kind of potato is perfect for your great Granny's prized mashed potato recipe? What onion will be the best to include in the world's best stuffing? Ask one of our friendly and knowledgeable produce staff! We love to help solve your toughest produce questions and find you the perfect ingredients for the perfect meal.

Cranberry sauce is a quintessential staple, and is deceptively easy to make from scratch. We have both conventional and organic cranberries from Wisconsin available in the department right now.

  • In a medium saucepan dissolve 1 cup of white sugar into 1 cup of orange juice over medium heat.
  • Stir in a 12 oz package of fresh cranberries and cook until the cranberries start to pop—about 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and transfer into a bowl. The sauce will thicken as it cools and will be ready to serve.

If you aren't hosting this year, be sure to pick up a beautiful floral bouquet or arrangement to show your cooks how much you appreciate their hard work. If you are the host these gorgeous seasonal displays are just what you need to tie the table together. We can't wait to see you this week, as always be sure to let us know how we can help you to make your big meal extra special this year, we love to help! Happy Turkey Day!