Updated every Friday
Last Updated: March 27, 2015
It is the last weekend in March and we're all going a little Spring stir crazy with the ups and downs of the weather. Here in the produce department we're still dealing with the crossover of produce seasons, where some things we want are still unavailable, but the local season still hasn't quite kicked in yet. Luckily we are starting to see the first few glimmers of spring shining through as we head into April next week.
Mushrooms are one of my favorite spring foods, not because they are exclusive to the spring, but because they are a light, extremely healthful food that is a welcomed contrast to many of the heavier foods we tend to consume during the cold months. Mushrooms are considered a 'functional food' which means that they not only are low in fat, calories, cholesterol, and sodium, but they also serve important nutritional functions by being high in anti-oxidants and dietary fiber. Mushrooms are rich in B vitamins including riboflavin and folate, and are the only vegan, non-fortified dietary source for vitamin D!
Why am I so enthusiastically pushing the benefits of mushrooms this week? Well, we have a vast array of gorgeous mushrooms for this weekend, with all sorts of shapes, sizes, uses and flavors, with a little something for the mushroom-terrified to the mycologically-savvy. Some of the highlights this week would definitely include the blue oyster and hedgehog mushrooms from Oregon. I love hedgehogs because they remind me of chanterelles (my favorite!), with their orange color, meaty texture, and rich nutty flavor. I love to sauté them in butter and garlic and add them to an omelet or pasta. Oyster mushrooms are a great meat substitute, as they mimic the texture well and absorb the flavors of whatever they are cooked with. Perfect for stir-fries, they add a textural depth when cooked with other vegetables. And if you are feeling particularly ambitious this weekend, I highly recommend the Chef's Blend mushroom packages, which contain 6 different varieties. They can be cooked all together or each individually, allowing you to be creative and maybe even discover a new favorite.
If you didn't get a chance to try the wild-crafted fiddlehead ferns (What is wild-crafted? Ask Professor Produce!) this past week, do not fret they are back again! A truly spring specialty that is a fun food to try if you are an adventurous eater or love to eat seasonally. We also will be getting another small shipment of wild onions for the weekend, which are similar to ramps, can be eaten raw or cooked, and taste like a sweet scallion. Even the cute little white flowers are edible!
Gardens of Eagan's delicious over-winter spinach is in this week. These dark green, curly and sweet spinach leaves are perfect for your favorite salads, sandwiches, wraps, and stir-fries. This is a great beginning of the season produce item to get us excited for sure.
Living Waters continues to bring us their wonderful local hydroponic tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh basil. Those hydroponic, European variety cucumbers are one of my favorite things in the department this week, with few seeds, they're very crunchy and sweet, and they are the perfect snacker. We like to add a dash of the extra spicy Ghost Chili pepper salt, for a hot little bite.
For fruit this weekend, I am all about the pixie tangerines, and the Bartlett pears. I also love the tangy champagne mangoes; they're my favorite smoothie ingredient this week. We're still waiting for the late winter apple crop to arrive, which should hopefully be very soon now.
We are nearing the end of our beloved local stored carrots and parsnips this week. I know that many of you have been enjoying them, so if you'll miss them as much as I will, I recommend stocking up this weekend. It will be another 4 or 5 months until we see these local again.
Lastly, we have gorgeous Easter lilies in the department now. Fragrant and full of buds and blooms, these are a great decoration for your home or as a wonderful seasonal gift. And the best part about them? Once it is consistently warm outside, they can be planted directly into your yard, where they can be enjoyed in your garden year after year.
It's supposed to warm up this weekend and we are looking forward to seeing you in the produce aisle. As always, never hesitate and ask our friendly and informative staff for recommendations or questions about our produce, we love to help!