Written for “Healthy Updates from Valley Natural Foods,” (Burnsville, MN)
As September arrives on our doorsteps, we notice a change in the air and in what’s FRESH & LOCAL at Valley Natural Foods in Burnsville. We may still have a few fleeting days to savor our last bites of fresh cucumber, sweet corn and watermelon. Our supplies of ripe red local tomatoes and aromatic basil are winding down, to be upstaged by the arrival of all that thrives in cooler weather, including the nutrient-rich Brassica oleracea family of luscious greens, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and kohlrabi.
All cousins to wild cabbage native to the wind-swept limestone sea cliffs of coastal England and Europe, these hardy Brassica veggies love our autumnal weather and offer the highest level of disease-fighting nutrients per serving of anything FRESH & LOCAL, not to mention naturally low in calories, fat and sodium. You can’t find a healthier return on your grocery dollars than serving these beautiful greens to your family.
Consider trying the eye-popping member of this cabbage family this month: lime green Romanesco delivered FRESH & LOCAL by Gardens of Eagan of Farmington. Crunchy and nutty, this unique veggie offers a sweeter and milder flavor and a creamier texture than the white cauliflower. Serve it raw with a dip, steam and season with butter, salt and pepper or toss with a little olive oil and roast in the oven, just until the edges start to brown.
Take note of the imminent arrival of red and yellow onions and red, russet and Yukon gold potatoes, delivered FRESH & LOCAL by L&R Poultry and Produce, a family owned and operated woodland farm near Kenyon in Goodhue County. This organic farm offers Valley Natural customers a wide variety of delicious, fresh earthly root crops in September. Expect a fall cornucopia of beets, carrots, radishes, rutabagas, radishes, turnips and the start of the winter squashes.
About mid-September, look for L&R’s popular “Speckled Hound” kabocha squash, a squatty round specimen with bluish gray speckled skin and tummy-warming sweet orange flesh on the inside. Originally hailing from Japan, kabocha squashes are increasingly becoming favorite dining companions in the U.S., as well as the budding stars of ornamental autumnal displays. Rae Rusnak, farmer/owner of L&R Poultry and Produce, says that these stellar squashes can be enjoyed into March, if stored in a cool dry place. She advises laying out squashes on newspaper, paper bags or wood without touching one another for adequate air circulation and optimum winter preservation.
Check out my FRESH & LOCAL monthly series of blogs, demos and classes under CLASSES and Valley Natural Foods at 13750 County Road 11, Burnsville, MN 55337 or www.valleynaturalfoods.com (952.891-1212).