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Whether you're looking for the perfect gift for your dad, grandfather, or a father figure in your life, we have something special just for you. Save 15% off selected items until 6/16/24. Use code DAD. ⮞
Whether you're looking for the perfect gift for your dad, grandfather, or a father figure in your life, we have something special just for you. Save 15% off selected items until 6/16/24. Use code DAD. ⮞

June's Veggie Extravaganza!

Image of Hatch Onions
Hatch Onions
Certainly, you know of habit-forming Hatch Peppers, but did you know the area of Hatch, New Mexico, is also known for fabulous sweet onions? What makes them sweet? The same microclimate and rich volcanic soil that make Hatch Peppers so tasty! So good, crisp, and sweet served raw in fresh pico de gallo, in potato, pasta, or bean salads, campfire chili, you get the picture. Oh! And what about grilled to top your beef or quinoa burger, or to accompany mushrooms or carne asada? Don’t forget to pickle them, too!

Select Hatch Onions that are firm without soft spots, cuts, or sprouting. Store at room temperature in an area with good circulation. Do not store near potatoes as onions cause potatoes to spoil quickly. Peel back the dried skins and wash the onion well before cutting the root end to prevent any soil or foreign matter from contaminating the flesh. Leftover onions may be wrapped well or placed in zippered plastic bags before refrigerating for up to one week. Freeze only if already cooked.

Image of Colorful Cauliflower
Colorful Cauliflower
A member of the crucifer family, Colorful Cauliflower strikes interest and adds color to any dish. These varieties are the actual original cauliflower, not the common white variety. The white variety became common through selective breeding. Colorful cauliflower can be prepared just the same, but brightens the dish, and can add a teeny bit more nutrition. Purple cauliflower can lose some of its rich hue when steamed or boiled as the phytochemical anthocyanin is water soluble. To retain more of the deep purple, add a bit of vinegar to your water before steaming or boiling. Serving raw, grilled, roasted, or sauteed, purple cauliflower will hold its color.

Orange or ‘cheddar’ cauliflower contains carotene, the same phytochemical found in carrots, and many yellow-orange squashes. Adding a plant fat to carrots increases the carotene availability to our bodies. Because this beta carotene is not water soluble, cheddar cauliflower will hold its color regardless of preparation. Add a plant fat to the recipe using cheddar cauliflower to increase the bioavailability of carotene.

Lastly, green cauliflower or ‘broccoflower’ is the closest of the three to broccoli, its cousin. Be careful to not overcook this variety as it will turn brown, just as overcooked broccoli will. Select cauliflower with firm, tight heads and no black spots. Refrigerate in its original wrapping, or with a sheet of paper towel in a plastic bag for up to five days. All three may be used in place of each other, white variety, or romanesco.

It is easier to wash cauliflower by cutting it per the recipe directions, then rinse well in a colander under cold running water. Drain and pat dry.

Image of Romanesco
A cousin of broccoli and cauliflower, this crucifer is curious looking with ‘fractiles’ or turrets and has a mild, nutty taste. Fun for children to eat because of their ‘tree’ appearance, romanesco is also an heirloom vegetable originally grown in Rome around the 16th Century; therefore, its name. Did you know the leaves of cauliflower and romanesco are also edible? Try them slightly roasted and seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper, or Melissa’s Everything Spice Grinder! Romanesco can be consumed raw, pickled, or cooked just like cauliflower or broccoli, and will hold its color regardless of cooking method. It's tasty with a quick grate of parmesan or pecorino-romano cheese, Melissa’s Hollandaise Sauce, or fresh vinaigrette.

Romanesco should be heavy for its size, firm, and have no black spots. Fractiles should be whole and unbroken. Refrigerate for up to five days in its original packaging, or in a plastic bag with a piece of paper towel. If preparing in pieces, it is best to core the bottom, gently break off or cut off the fractile with its stem, submerge under cold running water then drain and pat dry.

Image of Sweet Long Peppers
Sweet Long Peppers
Many shoppers have done double takes when passing by the Long Sweet Pepper display for their bright, fresh colors, and for thinking they were colored hot peppers. Flavorful whether raw or cooked, they are fleshy and perfect for romesco sauce (not the vegetable), sliced for salads, stuffed with seafood, or simply grilled (no need to peel). Seeds are edible, but preferred to be removed. Sweeter than bell peppers and crisp, Long Sweet Peppers can also be a good substitute for sweet peppers in pimento spread and cheese balls, fajitas, sandwiches and fabulous on grazing antipasti boards. Don’t forget to use all three colors of orange, yellow, and red for full effect.

Select firm peppers with no withered stems, dark tips, cuts or wrinkles. Refrigerate fresh peppers unwashed in a plastic bag until use, up to four days. Wash before preparation. Once cooked, peppers should be stored in a tightly closed lid and used within one week. Seeping juice is normal. If freezing, wash, seed, pat dry, then cut into desired pieces and freeze in a single layer on a lined sheet pan. Once frozen, empty into a plastic bag and return to the freezer. Use within one year. Keep in mind, frozen peppers will not retain crispness and are best cooked.

Image of Heirloom Tomatoes
Heirloom Tomatoes
Finally!! Heirloom Tomato season is upon us!!! “Heirloom” variety produce is grown from seed generally passed down from generation to generation without being grafted or hybridized. This is why heirloom tomatoes are a bit funky in shape and size with gorgeous variations and variegated color. Their flavors vary from tart Green Zebra to sweet Cherokee Purples and Brandywines. Some are marbled like the beautiful bright orange and red Striped German, or intense in color with convoluted shapes.

Select fruit that is firm with no pierces, cuts, or soft spots. Tomatoes are always best kept cool on a counter, laid stem down and padded by newspaper or Styrofoam socks. Refrigerating tomatoes causes them to lose flavor. If you realize you will not have time to enjoy all the tomatoes, wash, pat dry, core, then chop, season and thoroughly cook them. Allow to cool, then transfer to a freezer proof plastic bag with as much air removed as possible. Label and freeze for up to six months.

Image of Rhubarb
For those who remember Granny or Auntie preparing rhubarb pie or cobbler, pickled ‘pie plant,’ or Mrs. Knott’s stewed cherry rhubarb, we bring back the nostalgia by offering freshly grown field rhubarb with its bright pink stalks. Tart in the cheek with a bit of sweet, rhubarb is actually a rhizome- just like ginger or turmeric- but a member of the buckwheat family, and has celery-like stalks with big fan shaped leaves. Commercially grown and packed rhubarb have had the root end and the leaves removed as both are very toxic (and the stalks fit better in a box).

Knowing this, it is surprising to find rhubarb may be consumed raw or pickled and crunchy, but is more popular cooked or stewed. Cooking rhubarb increases its nutrient content and is a power house vegetable with only 15 calories per half cup! Research, per Michigan State University, indicates rhubarb has many beneficial compounds that may help lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and protect eye and brain health. No wonder this vegetable, native to Asia, had been used for medicinal purposes as long as 5,000 years ago. GO RHUBARB!

Select rhubarb that is firm with no cuts or shriveled ends. Store unwashed and wrapped in a plastic bag, refrigerated, for up to one week. Wash well before preparing. Cooked rhubarb may be refrigerated for up to one week; raw washed and chopped rhubarb may be frozen for up to 3 months.

Image of Cooked Quinoa
Cooked Quinoa
Melissa’s has done it again by offering a convenient ready-to-use plant-based ingredient: Melissa’s Cooked Quinoa! Sold in a clear chub package, enabling one to see the white and red grains, quinoa is considered a super-food and a pseudo-cereal as it is not grown in grass as are other grains such as rice, wheat, or oats. It can easily become the star of a plant-based slider, sliced thin for lasagna, lightly oiled and seasoned to make “air fries”, or even simply crumbled and added to green salads, scrambled eggs, or hearty soups for extra fiber and protein. Some quinoa lovers even stir crumbled quinoa into morning oatmeal at the end of cooking!

Melissa’s Cooked Quinoa is shelf stable and requires no refrigeration until opened, making it a great camping item and frees up the fridge for more veggies! Once opened, use within five days, or wrap tightly, label and freeze up to one month. Thaw in the refrigerator.

Image of Firm Tofu
Firm Tofu
Plant- based is trending, but how does one get enough protein during a time when those barbecue grates are filled with hunks of animal proteins? Enter Melissa’s Firm Tofu! Firm tofu has a density similar to animal meat, is the highest of all legumes in protein, and has a satisfying chew to boot! It can be marinated - separate from animal protein- with the same flavors then grilled, stir-fried, air fried, or baked in a separate vessel to prevent cross-contamination. USDA Certified Organic, non-GMO, and 100 percent plant-based, you can prepare Melissa’s Firm Tofu, a complete protein, in good conscience.

Tofu in any form should be kept refrigerated and, once opened, used within 5 days. An opened, unused portion of firm tofu should be placed in a vessel with just enough water to cover the tofu, then cover the container and refrigerate up to five days. Discard if the product has changed color, appears slimy, has an off-odor, or has mold. Additionally, firm tofu may be tightly wrapped and labeled, then freeze up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator about 2 days before use.

Image of Mini Cucumbers
Mini Cucumbers
Also known as Persian Cucumbers, Melissa’s Mini Cucumbers are crisp with edible skin, firm flesh and tender edible seeds. They are mild in flavor and contain less water than standard Kirby cucumbers. Their smaller size means no investment as they are just large enough for a small snack or salad for one, or inclusion in a side dish of carrots, jicama, and pickled peppers. They pair very well, small diced, in fruit salsas, gazpacho, Asian cold noodle dishes and spring rolls, sandwiches, and other fruits. Afterall, produce with seeds are botanically fruits, so it makes sense Melissa’s Mini Cucumbers pair well as crunch in tropical fruit salads!

Select firm cucumbers with no cuts, soft spots, or sliminess. Refrigerate, unwashed, for up to five days in a plastic bag with paper towel to wick any moisture. Wash well before preparation and consume within two days. Due to their high-water content, Mini Cucumbers do not freeze well. Available year-round, pending Mother Nature’s whim.
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