by Loretta Wilson, Produce Staff
This month, we have a special announcement to make. On October 1st, Jenny Ohlsen (Produce Manager) and Dan Frost (Operations Manager) welcomed their son, Cole, into the world. Welcome baby Cole to our community! We hope this finds Dan, Jenny and Cole cozy at home enjoying peace-filled, fascinating times. We certainly have a great deal to be grateful for this month.
When you gather with your loved ones to celebrate the bounty of this year’s harvest, remember to include a few words of gratitude for our local farmers. Without them we wouldn’t eat and feel so well!
We offer a great many local items at this time including cranberries, apples, three varieties of mushrooms, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, leeks, onions and potatoes, garlic and shallots, parsley root, horseradish, black and beauty heart radishes, rutabaga and parsnips, scarlet and purple turnips, carrots, sunchokes, and winter squash. None of our local organic root crops has wax coatings. A petroleum-based thick wax coating is used on the conventionally-grown roots you’ll find elsewhere. Our roots are all local and all ready to offer pure enjoyment and great nutrition.
Welcome the crispness in the air this season with a savory new recipe or two of winter squash. We have a phenomenal assortment of winter squash, most of which is still locally grown at Yesteryear Farms, Troy Gardens and Avalanche Organics. Although these varieties may differ in appearance, taste and texture, they may be used in much the same way.
Winter squash are delicious stuffed, steamed, or pureed for soups, burritos, casseroles, au gratin, pies, cakes, muffins, bread or pudding or baked to a rich sweetness and enjoyed with a sprinkle of fresh dill and a drizzle of honey. Winter squash is an excellent source of Vitamin A (ten times that of summer squash!), Vitamin C, iron and potassium. It is high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, modest in calories and low in sodium.
Look for plentiful varieties of winter squash this month.
We offer free recipes in the produce department for seasonally available produce. The winter squash recipes feature Autumn Minestrone and Lentils with Butternut Squash and Walnuts, seasoned with curry and cilantro. Squash inspires me to great new heights in cooking.
These are our other locally grown specials in November: Harmony Valley Farm will bring us yummy darker-skinned sweet potatoes while Avalanche Organics will supply us with the flavorful shallots. Sweet potatoes are a good source of Vitamins A & C.
Sweet potatoes belong to the morning-glory family and are native to tropical areas of the Americas There are many varieties of sweet potato but the two that are widely grown commercially are a pale sweet potato and the darker-skinned variety Americans erroneously call “yam.” The pale sweet potato has a thin, light yellow skin and a pale yellow flesh. Its flavor is not sweet and after being cooked, the pale sweet potato is dry and crumbly, much like a white baking potato. Darker varieties have thicker, dark orange skin and a vivid orange, sweet flesh that cooks to a much moister texture. Store in a cool, dark place and use within a week of purchase. Do not refrigerate. They can be prepared in a variety of ways including baking, steaming and sautéing. Add it to soups for a delicious sweetness, and there’s always time for sweet potato pie!
Also on special for the month of November are Braeburn apples and bulk salad mix. The produce department will also be offering a number of delectable specials around the holiday so keep your eyes and recipes open to include some of them!
Whenever you are looking for a recipe for Wisconsin (local) grown produce you could turn to your newest edition of From Asparagus to Zucchini, with eighty percent new recipes, including some for sweet potatoes! The purchase of this food book supports Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition (MACSAC).
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1/4 cup vegetable broth
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks
10 large shallots, peeled, halved through root end
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram
8 ounces large fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps quartered
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Directions: Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Whisk broth, olive oil, and vinegar in small bowl. Mix sweet potatoes, shallots, bay leaves, and 1 T marjoram in large bowl. Pour half of broth mixture over and toss; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss mushrooms, 1T marjoram, and remaining broth mixture in medium bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread sweet potato mixture on baking sheet. Roast until potatoes begin to soften, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Mix in mushrooms. Return to oven; roast until potatoes and mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes longer. Transfer to bowl. Mix in parsley and 1 teaspoon marjoram. Makes 6 side-dish servings.