What's Tasty at Sigona's Farmers Market

July 25, 2012

Free Honey Royal Nectarine or Doughnut Peach Gelato

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The Joys of Melon Season: Part I

The Joys of Melon Season: Part I

Nutritional Value and How to Select Them

By Robbie Sigona

I honestly love this time of year. The weather is warm and fantastic every day, the San Francisco Giants are battling for first place and the first melons of the season are arriving in our stores.

And let me just say this: they are tasting really, really good right now.

We get our melons from Turlock Fruit Company in, you guessed it, Turlock, CA. Owner and grower Don Smith is a second generation melon aficionado who decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. 94 years after his dad first started the company, the family business is as strong as ever. Heck, there’s even a third generation (Steve) and fourth generation (Alec) Smith continuing the legacy that started back in 1918.

We’re going to dig a little bit deeper in the unique history of Turlock Fruit Company – as well as their rare heirloom melons – in the next installment of our e-newsletter. For now, let’s focus on the deep nutritional value of melons and what to look for when you’re buying them the next time you visit Sigona’s Farmers Market.

Honeydew

Let’s start first with honeydew. Our honeydew that’s tasting magnificent right now is packed full of vitamin C, which of course is great for giving your immune system a turbo boost. This orange-fleshy goodness is a mighty anti-oxidant and provides your body with potassium (essential for proper cell function). You might be surprised to know that folks with high potassium levels typically have blood pressure lower than their peers, hence another reason to go melon crazy this summer.

My person favorite right now is the orange flesh honeydew. While it looks somewhat similar on the outside to typical honeydew, the inside color, taste and smell is actually more reminiscent of cantaloupe. Find one with a cream-colored rind and sugar-packed aromas and you’ll be enjoying yourself in no time.

Cantaloupe

If you’ve been disappointed with cantaloupe up until now you can’t miss with our current crop. This is truly the time of year to go for it.

Cantaloupes are a classic fruit loaded with vitamin A and C. The vitamin A will help you to keep your visor laser-sharp; for women who are pregnant, it will assist with developing and growing the little tike inside of you.

Cantaloupes are also a good source of:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate
  • Niacin
  • Fiber

Speaking of fiber, did you know that the average American only consumes around 14 grams per day? This falls far short of the recommended daily intake of 20-38 grams. With fiber so essential to digestion (and preventing not-so-fun issues such as constipation, hemorrhoids and inflammation of the digestive tract), why not get your daily dose through delicious and healthy tasting cantaloupes!

What to Look For

Something we see every now and again in the store are folks who aren’t exactly sure which honeydew or cantaloupe to select. They know these fruits and healthy. They know they taste sugary-delicious. But sometimes they all look pretty similar. If you don’t know what to look for, it can be like sticking your hand into a fish bowl, pulling out a random raffle ticket and hoping it’s a winner.

That’s why if you stick to these basic tips the next time you’re in the store, you’ll be going home with a prize every single time:

  • Melons should have just a slight give when you squeeze them. Are they hard as a bowling ball? Move on and look for another.
  • Look for ones that are as blemish-free as possible.
  • A sugary aroma should waft into your nostrils as you smell them.
  • Once home, run the melons over cold water to clean off any dirt.
  • It’s smart to store them in the fridge right away. Cover them in plastic and consume within three days.

With melon season looking so phenomenal right now, we’ll be talking in our next e-news about heirloom varieties you won’t find at just any grocery outlet. You’ll learn how Turlock Fruit Company has kept these amazing fruits popping out of the ground for decades on end and why you need to try them as soon as humanly possible.

In the meantime, don’t forget to try out our recipes for Sweet Local Orange flesh Honeydew with a Drizzle of Reduced Balsamic as well as Local Melon Red Wine. We’ll guarantee you’ll be in melon heaven!

July 24, 2012

Free Wild Persimmon Honey

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July 11, 2012

Home Sweet Home Ranch

Home Sweet Home Ranch

Sweet Home Ranch farmer Paul Buxman places nature and family first to provide you with the sweetest, most perfect stone fruits in the entire Bay Area!

By Robbie Sigona

Sweet Home Ranch farmer Paul Buxman

“You know how I stay cool all day on my tractor in 100-plus degree heat,” Paul Buxman asked me from his Sweet Home Ranch in Dinuba, CA just south of Fresno. “I place a towel under my hat and fill it full of ice every hour. The cold water just drips down onto my head and shoulders. Sometimes I’m cold even when it’s 112 degrees out!”

The only things more delicious and sweet than Paul’s humor are the nectarines, peaches, plums and additional stone fruits his farm grows on his 55 acre ranch.

That’s because unlike fruit that may be stored for up to three weeks and picked green, produce from Sweet Home Ranch is plucked from branches at the peak of ripeness. Then, in the blink of an eye, it’s delivered and placed on our shelves here at Sigona’s for you and your family to enjoy. With produce that fresh, no wonder it’s bursting with so many exquisite flavors.

Having forged a close friendship with Paul over the years, I know one of the things he prides himself on the most are his growing techniques. Every piece of produce from his farm is certified California Clean. In a nutshell this basically means that all his succulent fruits are grown sans organic or synthetic pesticides. While Paul’s produce may not be certified organic, his unique and intricate growing techniques are still environmentally friendly and yield the best-tasting fruits you’ve ever had.

Before I could practically finish asking Paul his opinion on which stone fruits are looking especially good right now, he exclaimed excitedly, “The Diamond Ray nectarines! It’s packed full of calcium, zinc and additional minerals that your body craves.”

Having tasted these beauties myself, I can personally attest that you’ll want to try one the next time you’re in the store. I’d also highly suggest the Snow Princess and Ice Princess peaches as well. These fragrant white-flesh peaches possess floral notes with a touch of honey and rose.

Paul says that his peaches are about as perfect as they can be right now due in large part to ideal climate conditions. “While they’re roasting out there in the Midwest and the East, we’ve had a relatively mild summer here so far with only a few days over 100. All early ripening fruits prefer 90-degree weather, which we’ve had, and this allows for 2 to 3 more days on the trees to give them those flavor profiles that people expect and love.”

Sweet Home Ranch is constantly striving to attain the perfect peach, plum, nectarine and more. From tweaking watering patterns to pruning techniques, Paul leaves no leaf unturned.

Paul is equally attentive and dedicated to creating a nourishing family environment for his workers. This enables them to live and thrive as vibrantly as the peaches that are eventually picked from the trees.

“There’s a huge labor shortage in the farming industry right now. This is because the system currently requires six to eight weeks of hard labor, but then workers are laid off. That’s no good,” Paul stated emphatically. “So we find ways to have our employees working year-round – along with two months of vacation for them to travel and visit their families.”

To counter those days of “dead time” when most employees would be laid off, Paul and his wife Ruth diversify their peachy portfolio by making precious preserves. This off-season work increases the amount of days his employees can be compensated for their efforts.

Along with providing his employees with a steady stream of income, Sweet Home Ranch also makes sure its valued workers are surrounded by a safe environment. You might be astonished to know that when it finally gets just too darn hot out there, Paul sends his workers home – paid! “What’s more important: the loss of a few peaches or the potential for heat stroke? Without our workers we’re nothing.”
Sweet Home Ranch now has employees that have been with the company for over two decades. Many of these loyal folks now have kids working for the company. (Hey! That sounds just like Sigona’s Farmers Market!)

As Paul so eloquently put it, “It really is heaven on earth here, except for days when it’s 110 degrees out.”

We look forward to seeing you in the store this summer for the best stone fruit you’ve even tasted. And don’t forget to check out our recipes, including Honey Vanilla Fromage Blanc and my Uncle Carmelo’s Simple Stone Fruit Salad.

Free Local, Farm Fresh Pastured Eggs from Wattle and Comb in Pescadero, Calif.

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June 27, 2012

Get Grillin’ with Local, Fresh-Picked Corn

Get Grillin’ with Local, Fresh-Picked Corn

Shuck it, grill it, put it in a salsa — one of the summer favorites is arriving daily at our stores and it doesn’t get any sweeter than fresh-picked. Plus, get a free tote of corn just in time for the 4th of July!

By Robbie Sigona

Ah, summer. Barbeques send swirls of mouth-watering scents through the air, kids run through sprinklers, you favorite fruits are now coming from local growers and iced tea is brewed in the summer sun. Speaking of barbeques, did you know you can cook almost anything on the grill? This includes corn on the cob. There is no reason to heat up the kitchen more than it already is by boiling a large pot of water. Just throw those cobs on the barbie!

Corn is fantastic when grilled, whether it’s left on the cob or sliced off to be used in salsas, salads or other dishes. We have some delicious corn recipes on the blog, including Green Beans with Roasted Corn and Green Onions inspired by Food Network’s Guy Fieri.

Let’s Get Corny

Did you know that a stalk of corn only produces one good ear? It’s true! Our local farmer John Spina only harvests the biggest and best ear from the stalk. Or how about this: did you know you really only need to let corn swim in boiling water for about 2 minutes if that’s the cooking method you choose? Well, corn doesn’t really need to be cooked at all before you eat it – in fact, if you’re in the employee room during corn season, you might just see a Sigona peel back the husks and start eating an ear of corn as is…no cooking required.

There’s nothing like fresh-picked corn on the cob, either dressed up with a smear of butter and a dusting of salt & pepper, or grilled and incorporated into a summer salad. Judging by the popularity of our corn display the majority of you agree. We get daily deliveries of white corn from our friend John Spina of Spina Farms in Morgan Hill. The corn is picked in the morning and delivered to our stores in the afternoon so we have fresh corn every day.

Such a quick turnaround is significant because fresh corn is sweeter. This is because once picked, the sugars in corn begin converting to starch. Same with asparagus. Moral of the story: corn is best eaten as fresh-picked as possible.

One of the biggest myths about corn is that it needs to be cooked for a long while before it’s edible. Even the freshest ear, when cooked too long, can taste starchy and stale. Grilling corn allows its natural sugars to caramelize, which adds another layer of flavor and makes for a more chewy texture. Again, just don’t keep it on the heat for too long. Slice the grilled corn off the cob and incorporate it into a citrus-based salsa and you’ll be the talk of the town!

Meet the Farmer

We’ve worked with the Spina family – John, his father and his son (all named John) – for nearly 40 years. They have a small produce stand of their own in Morgan Hill, too, and used to buy some items from us at our old roadside fruit stands along Old Monterey Highway…back when we were called Coyote Berry Acres. A lot has changed for us since then, but our relationships with farmers have stayed the same. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for our local farmers.

John Spina

John Spina of Spina Farms

Corn got a late start this summer, just like most California produce, but John says the stalks are doing well now and should be in steady production until November.

“We have 150 acres on which we’re growing a few different varieties of white corn this season,” said John. “We grow different varieties each year to find which respond the best to the conditions and farming techniques. Quality is very important to us and we pick only when the corn is at its peak so Sigona’s and its customers get the best.”

In general, white corn is more tender and sweeter than yellow corn, which has a more chewy texture and hardy corn flavor. My Uncle Carmelo remembers when white corn was a rare find in markets; it wasn’t until the 1970s that the demand for white corn grew and farmers began planting more white than yellow. Until that time, yellow corn was the norm – Golden Bantam was popular in the 1950s and Golden Jubilee was the rage in the late 1960s.

In addition to white corn, Spina Farms grows peppers, tomatoes, beans, squash, Indian corn and 67 (yes 67!) different varieties of pumpkins and gourds, many of which you’ll see decorating our stores come fall.

The Spina family also operate the Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch on their farm in the fall, featuring train rides on the Spina Pumpkin Express, hay ride tours of the pumpkin patch and Indian corn field, pumpkin decorating and more. It’s a great destination for the family in the fall and it’s open beginning the last weekend in September through the month of October.

Remember to take advantage of the coupon we’re offering this week…just in time for your 4th of July celebrations! Bring in your coupon and when you spend $30 or more you can walk away with a free tote bag full of corn. Also make sure to check out our recipes for corn, such as Sautéed Corn with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil and Fresh Corn Salad with Black Beans, Tomato and Cilantro.

June 25, 2012

Beef Potstickers made with Open Source grass-fed beef

Beef Potstickers

Grass-fed Beef Potstickers by Luisa Ormonde of Luisa’s Catering in San Carlos, Calif.

Recipe courtesy of Luisa Ormonde, a local private chef and caterer. Luisa says, “I made these this morning for a client and will make them again for myself! I found the dough very easy to work with, *but if you are intimidated just use premade pot sticker wraps/round wonton wraps instead. Enjoy!” Makes approx. 25-30 potstickers.

For dough (*see note above)

  • 1 3/4 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup boiling-hot water

For filling

  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef (such as local Open Source beef, found at Sigona’s)
  • 3 TBL soy sauce
  • 3 TBL Asian sesame oil
  • 1 TBL peanut oil
  • 2 TBL minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp black bean garlic sauce
  • 1 TBL organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green garlic chives (6 oz) (Cook’s note: find flowering garlic chives (jiu cai in Mandarin) at a local Asian market or use regular chives minced with a little garlic)

For panfrying

  • 1 TBL peanut oil
  • 1/3 cup warm water

Make dough: Put 1 3/4 cups flour in a large bowl, then add boiling-hot water, stirring with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. When just cool enough to handle, turn out dough (including any loose flour) onto a work surface and knead, incorporating some of remaining 1/4 cup flour if dough is sticky, until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Form into a ball and cover with clean towel. Let stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes.

Make filling while dough stands: Stir together beef, soy sauce, oils, ginger and bean paste in a medium bowl, then stir in chives.

Form and fry dumplings: Divide dough in half. On lightly floured parchment paper, roll out one half until thin with rolling pin. With a 3 inch round biscuit cutter, cut as many circles as you can out of the dough (you can reroll the scraps but form into a ball and let rest again before rolling). Place a level tablespoon of filling in center of each round, then brush or dab halfway around edge with a little water and fold in half, pressing edges together to seal then crimp. Place each dumpling, sealed edge up, on a wax/parchment paper-lined tray. Make more dumplings in same manner with remaining dough.

For panfrying: Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat until hot, then remove from heat and arrange dumplings in a tight circular pattern standing up in oil (they should touch one another). Cook, uncovered, over moderate heat until oil sizzles, then drizzle warm water (1/3 cup) over pot stickers and cook, covered, until bottoms are browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons more water if skillet looks dry before bottoms are browned.

Remove lid and cook, shaking skillet to loosen pot stickers, until steam dissipates, 1 to 2 minutes. Invert a large plate with a rim over skillet. Using pot holders, hold plate and skillet together and invert skillet. Remove skillet and serve pot stickers warm.

Cooks’ note: Dumplings can be formed 4 hours ahead. Chill in 1 layer, not touching, on wax-paper-lined tray, loosely but completely covered with plastic wrap.

June 13, 2012

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: cherries, peaches & nectarines

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: What’s New

This week:

  • We have in our famous, local Bing cherries from Andy Mariani’s orchard in Santa Clara Valley…just south of us in Morgan Hill. They’re huge, deep burgundy and extremely sweet. They arrive at Sigona’s within hours of being picked – Uncle Paul picks them up at 10 a.m. and brings them to Sigona’s!
  • On another note, Paul Buxman, our local, certified California Clean grower, will soon be in with white and yellow peaches and white and yellow nectarines. It’s all going to be real good, but I expect the Diamond Bright yellow nectarine to be excellent! It’s one of the best varieties of the year.

Robbie Sigona is our produce buyer. He works with local farmers and scours the market for the very best in fresh fruits and vegetables — some you won’t find anywhere else.

May 30, 2012

Local Cherries Hitting the Shelves

Local Cherries Hitting the Shelves

California cherries have been on the scene for a few weeks, but now is the time we show off our locally grow gems from Gilroy and Morgan Hill!

By Robbie Sigona

Local cherries – one of the fruits we know you look forward to all year – are finally hitting our shelves. Any day now we expect the first fruits from the legendary Andy’s Orchard, farmed by Andy Mariani in Morgan Hill, as well as gems from an outstanding crop grown by Richard Borello in Gilroy.

We’ve had a selection of California-grown cherries in for a few weeks. The first delivery came from the Bakersfield area, followed by Fresno and then Stockton. The locally grown cherries, however, arrive at Sigona’s within 24 hours of being picked – some are even picked in the morning and delivered that afternoon. I know I can’t wait to sample one from the box that’s still warm from the sun hitting the tree.

While cherries from outside our immediate local reach are quality fruits, we always look forward to working with our local farmers from Morgan Hill and Gilroy. Big, sweet, beautifully colored cherries…there’s almost no match for their quality and flavor.

“The crop is really sizing up nice this year; we should start harvest the first week of June and have some of our crop at Sigona’s by this weekend,” said Richard Borello, a local, third-generation grower in Gilroy.

Andy Mariani echoed Borello saying, “The crop is huge and the cherry size is good, considering the how much fruit there is. Also, harvest is late this year, by about five to seven days; we’ll start picking for local markets the first week of June.”

Mom, where do cherries come from?

In order to get the best cherry for your buck, it’s important to understand the season, growing regions and how weather affects the fruit.

The Bakersfield area is always the first to market around early to mid-May. That region’s fruit is sometimes rushed to stores because it’s the only game in town. Two to three weeks later we see some fruits from Fresno and Stockton, usually the Brooks variety, then Bings. Cherries from that area are usually pretty darn good, but sometimes the heat of the East Bay makes for soft fruit.

Bings have a beautiful, deep red color and a crisp crunch.

Shortly after the East Bay fruit arrives we welcome local fruit from the Santa Clara Valley. As the local harvest nears an end, cherries from Washington state start to make their rounds. Washington is a major player in the cherry market and produces some beautiful fruit, but when Washington fruit hits market, Californians start getting cherried out. However, it’s when the Washington and California markets collide that the price goes down about by half. This is typical of any produce item; when we have enough abundance to supply demand, the price always drops.

Earth, Wind & Fire Sunshine

Generally speaking, Eastern Washington has to deal with more extreme weather, at least cold-wise, than much of California. That region has cold winters followed by a temperamental springtime in which Mother Nature can bring freezing temperatures that kill new cherry buds, thus decreasing the size of the crop.

Just as with California, Washington state can also experience extreme heat and the occasional thunder storm during June and early July, a deadly combination for cherry growers.

Splits-Doubles & Spurs at Half Price

Rain, followed by high temperatures, can cause splits in cherries – those little (sometimes large) slits you find at the top near the stem or on the bottom of some cherries. Basically, the split is caused by the cherry bursting after it soaked up extra rain water and was then warmed by the sun. These cherries are still edible, but are only stable for about three days before they start to turn. You’ll see a lot of them at flea markets or small farmers’ markets sold at half price because most packing warehouses don’t accept splits.

Hot temperatures can also cause abnormalities in cherries, such as spurs and doubles, most of which stem from hotter zones such as Stockton, Lodi or Patterson.

“Doubles and spurs are caused by a lot of heat during the previous summer,” said Mariani. “As fruit is picked, buds for the next year begin to form. If there is a lot of heat, the buds split and make two stigmas. If both stigmas are pollinated you get a double-fused fruit, equal in size. If only one is pollinated then you have a spur, a small unformed cherry bud on one side of the developed cherry.”

Rainiers, the delicate, yellow & blush colored cherries, are perfectly sweet and juicy.

There is nothing wrong with fruits that have spurs or doubles, they just look different (though you don’t want to eat the spur). Cherries can also be damaged by wind and the sun. Wind causes bruising and scuffing, or limb rub, on the fruit and the sun can actually cause sunburn.

“Growers kind of go through a gauntlet of natural phenomena to get good fruit in the end,” said Mariani. “So far this year we have minimal wind damage.”

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe

Bing, Garnet, Rainier, Brooks, Tulare, Van…do you have a favorite variety? Bings are a popular choice for their crisp crunch, deep red color and sweet flavor that’s paired with just the right amount of tart. The Brooks cherry, usually the first to market, is firm with a red color that’s lighter than a Bing, and then, of course, there is the delicate, yellow- and blush-colored Rainier. It has a sweetness that’s not overly sweet, but a handful definitely has enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Look for the other varieties in our store and let us know which is your favorite! We have a couple cherry recipes on our blog too for those of you who want to do something other with cherries than pile them in a bowl. Be sure to check out the recipe for Local, Wild King Salmon Alaskan Salmon with Roasted Cherries and Pistachios, courtesy of Danielle Krupa, owner and founder of Wellness Made Natural, LLC. It’s simply delicious!

See you in the store!

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s featuring Cherries

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s featuring Cherries

Cherries are delicious eaten on their own, but they add new level of flavor to savory dishes and grilled meats, such as pork. One of our customers even replaces tomatoes with cherries in their homemade salsa! Remember, cherries have pits in the middle so be careful when biting into them.

Smoked Turkey and Cherry Salad with a Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette

This salad recipe, inspired by this one on the California Cherry Advisory Board website, is a great way to use fresh cherries and our cherry balsamic. Serves 4.

For the salad:

  • 1 head Romaine lettuce, medium-chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup diced green onion, some green included
  • 2 small mandarins, oranges or tangerines, segmented (all skin and membranes removed)
  • 1 cup smoked turkey, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2/3 cup California Bing cherries, washed, halved & pitted

For the balsamic vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup Sigona’s Fresh Press extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBL Sigona’s Cherry balsamic
  • 1 TBL stone-ground mustard
  • 1 tsp honey or organic Agave nectar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions: Toss all salad ingredients together, except cherries, in a large bowl.

Add all the vinaigrette ingredients, except the EVOO, in a small bowl and whisk to mix. Slowly drizzle in the EVOO and whisk quickly to emulsify the mixture.

Reserving 1 TBL, drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat. Add the cherries to the reserved vinaigrette and toss to coat.

Arrange salad on individual plates, sprinkle with cherries and serve immediately.

 

Balsamic-Drizzled Summer Stone Fruit over Creamy Gelato

Stone fruits are just coming into season, and though I prefer to eat them out of hand, they’re delicious when roasted, drizzled with balsamic (especially an infused balsamic) and served over ice cream or gelato. Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 12+ cherries, halved with the pit removed
  • 2 other stone fruits, such as peaches, apricots, plums or nectarines, quartered with the pit removed
  • 1/2 cup Sigona’s cherry balsamic
  • 1 pint of Vanilla Bean gelato (we recommend Gelato Massimo; it’s made in Watsonville!)
  • 4 mint leaves, for garnish (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare fruits as directed.

Place fruits in a baking dish and drizzle with Sigona’s cherry balsamic. Roast fruit for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, scoop gelato into four dessert bowls. Place equal amounts of roasted fruit in the bowls and drizzle with more balsamic (leftovers from the baking dish and/or a drizzle of more from the bottle). Place a mint leaf in each bowl (optional) and serve immediately.

 

Local, Wild King Salmon Alaskan Salmon with Roasted Cherries and Pistachios

Wild King Salmon with Roasted Cherries and Pistachios. Recipe and photo courtesy of Danielle Krupa, owner and founder of Wellness Made Natural, LLC.

Cherries and local, wild salmon seem to have made a pact to come into season around the same time. The two paired together make for an outstanding flavor combination! Recipe and photo courtesy of Danielle Krupa, owner and founder of Wellness Made Natural, LLC.  Danielle says, “I can’t stress enough the importance of using a cherry pitter for this recipe.  Unless of course you like having pink fingers and high frustration levels.” Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound (about 3 cups) cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
  • 2 teaspoons chopped oregano
  • 4 (4-6 oz.) wild king salmon fillets
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, chopped

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, toss together cherries, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, agave nectar, thyme and oregano. Arrange salmon skin-side down on a large parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Scatter cherry mixture over and around salmon and bake 12-15 minutes.  Switch oven to broil and cook an additional 3 minutes until salmon is just cooked through and cherries are juicy and caramelized, (you want the thickest part of the fish to reach an internal temperature of 131 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer). Remove the salmon from the oven and allow to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Drizzle arugula with remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice, olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper; divide among 4 plates.  Top greens with salmon fillet and 1/4 of the cherries.  Make sure to spoon out some of the cooking juice and drizzle over salmon.  Sprinkle 1/4 of the pistachios over each dish and serve.

Raw Cherry Pie

Raw Cherry Pie recipe and photos courtesy of Monika Soria Caruso of Windy City Vegan.

Sometimes baking things is just too much work! Why not opt for a raw cherry pie – not only does it save you time and keep your kitchen cool, but keeping the ingredients raw maintains the integrity of  the ingredient’s nutrients, such as the beta carotene in cherries. Did you know cherries contain 19 times more beta carotene than blueberries and strawberries? Recipe and photos courtesy of food blogger Monika Soria Caruso Windy City Vegan and Chew on This.

Crust:

  • 2/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup sweet sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup alt milk, preferably unsweetened
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups pitted cherries (do not drain!)
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 2 scant TBL kudzu starch
  • 1/4 cup cold filtered water
  • optional: agave, sweeten to taste

Go ahead and have a slice or two! Photo courtesy of Monika Soria Caruso of Windy City Vegan.

Directions: Lightly grease your pie or tart pan (standard size for a round pie, or 8″ square) and set aside. Combine all of the crust ingredients in a large bowl and stir vigorously until completely mixed. The dough will resemble wet sand. If you need to soften your coconut oil, do so using a warm water bath or double boiler method. Do not place the oil over direct heat. Turn the dough out into your pan and pat it into place. Transfer the pan to your refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Combine the cherries and strawberries in a small bowl and set aside. In a small cup, combine the kudzu and water and stir to make a slurry. In a small saucepan, slowly heat the slurry until it begins to thicken. If you are keeping this recipe 100% raw, use your sense of touch to ensure the slurry remains lukewarm (or use a candy thermometer to keep it just under 115 degrees F). It will take 10-15 minutes to start to thicken. If you aren’t opposed to heating the starch briefly, then raise the temperature until the slurry is not quite at a simmer – it will thicken almost instantly. Allow the slurry to cool to room temperature, then combine with the fruit. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours and it will thicken nicely.

After a 2+ hours have passed, pour the pie filling into the crust. Continue to refrigerate for at least another hour before serving. This is best if eaten within 48 hours – after that the filling will begin to seep into the crust.

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