Weekend food: Produce report and recipes

NZ vegetables
Pick of the week is spinach. Well known for its health benefits, spinach is commonly used as a base for smoothies and fresh pressed juices. It is one of the few vegetables that increases in nutrients when it is cooked – by up to three times. This is because cooked spinach is easier for the breakdown allowing for the complete absorption of nutrients.

Recipe suggestion: For your next meat-free meal, try making cheese and spinach stuffed portobello mushrooms. Preheat oven to 240oC. Place 4 large portobello mushroom caps, grill side up, on the preheated oiled pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile, mash 1 cup of ricotta, 1 cup of finely chopped spinach, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 2 tbsp of finely cut kalamata olives and ½ tsp Italian seasoning in a medium bowl. Heat ¾ cup of premade marinara pasta sauce in a small bowl. When the mushrooms are tender, carefully pour out any liquid accumulated in the caps. Spread 1 tbsp marinara into each cap; Mound a generous 1/3 cup ricotta filling into each cap and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Bake until hot, about 10 minutes. Serve with the remaining marinara sauce.

Other top veggie buys are watercress, fennel bulb, celery and leaks. Watercress is often overlooked in the greens department, It has been identified to have more than 15 essential vitamins and minerals including more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk and more vitamin C than oranges.

NZ fruit
Pick of the week are Winter Nelis pears. They can be identified by their yellow-green skins covered in russet patches.

Recipe suggestion: Martha Stewart’s pear and granola muffins. Preheat oven to 200oC. Peel and dice two pears into 1cm chunks, set aside. In a large bowl whisk together 1 cup all purpose flour, ¾ cup whole wheat flour, 2 ts. baking powder, ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp ground cinnamon. In a separate bowl whisk together 2 eggs, ¾ cup brown sugar, ½ cup plain low fat yogurt and 2 tbsp melted butter. Make a well in the centre of the dry mixture and add the wet mixture to it, mix until combined then gently fold in the pears and ¾ cup plain granola. Next make the granola crisp topping; in a bowl toss together ½ cup granola, ¼ cup of all purpose flour, ¼ cup brown sugar and ¼ tsp salt. Cut 3 tbsp chilled butter into pieces and add granola mixture. Rub together with fingertips until clumps form. Divide batter evenly into muffin liners, filling each ¾ full, sprinkle granola topping. Bake for 20 minutes or until a done. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from tin.

Other top fruit buys are avocado, green kiwifruit, navel oranges and Jazz apples. Avocados are well known to be full of healthy fats and oils and to be overall great for your body but they also have a less known perk – avocados contain more potassium than a banana.

Also look out for mandarins. This week is the last week of the New Zealand season.

Imported produce
Look for Australian Mandarins, beans and capsicums. The mandarins are perfectly timed to take over from the local season and are nearly as good as homegrown. – Turners and Growers

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