What's Tasty at Sigona's Farmers Market

May 30, 2012

John Sigona’s Pick of the Week: Flavored Marchini Almonds

John Sigona’s Pick of the Week: Flavored Marchini Almonds

GET ‘EM WHILE WE’VE GOT ‘EM!

Cipollini Onion Marchini Almonds

Zesty Tomato Marchini Almonds

Reg. $3.99, 8 oz.

On sale for $1.99

It’s a good idea to load up and GET ‘EM WHILE WE’VE GOT ‘EM, especially at this great price because once they’re gone they’ll be gone forever!*

These fabulous almonds will remain on SUPER SPECIAL until the very last container is sold.

They store very well under refrigeration for at least six months, as long as you keep them sealed and dry.

These suburb almonds are truly an original California almond. They were developed by Joe Marchini in Central California. These two flavors, the cipollini onion and zesty tomato, have all of the benefits and nutrients we’ve all come to enjoy from fresh almonds along with their wonderful unique flavor.

John outside with produce

John Sigona is the dried fruit & nut buyer for Sigona’s Farmers Markets in Palo Alto and Redwood City, Calif.

*We will continue to carry roasted-salted Marchini Almonds long after the cipollini zesty tomato flavors are gone.

May 16, 2012

Last of Springtime’s Local Artichokes

Free Bag of ‘Chokes

Last of the local springtime artichokes available now — plus, get a bag free this week.

By Robbie Sigona

There are many reasons why I love artichokes. The flavor of locally grown artichokes – baby or regular-sized – is unmatchable, but the reason I love them the most is because of how a few simply steamed chokes brings everyone to the table for a fun appetizer.

To celebrate this incredible vegetable, we’re offering a free bag of four ‘chokes this week (May 16 – 22) with your coupon when you spend $30 or more!

There is nothing better than watching children peel off a leaf, choose their favorite dip, scrape off the artichoke meat with their teeth and toss the used leaf in the dump bowl – they love it! It’s one of those hands-on dishes where it’s ok to be messy and share a laugh together.

Artichokes are available year-round, but the best time of year for fantastic artichokes is now. Nearly 80 percent of the artichokes grown in California come from Monterey County, home to Castroville, the “Artichoke Capital of the World.” The climate in Monterey County is perfect: the warm and cool air masses meet there, creating summer fog and cool, not-so-dry weather. Artichokes love it.

One of the best-known farms in Castroville is Pezzini Farms. It was founded in the 1930s and is still run by the Pezzini family. We’ve partnered with Pezzini Farms for years to bring in fresh-picked artichokes that are picked, packed and delivered to our stores in less than 24 hours!

If you drive along Route 156 in Castroville, you’ll still see the original farm stand, which has been in operation just about as long as the farm has. Some customers return generation after generation, making it a family tradition to visit the Pezzini family farm stand. There’s just something really special, especially for children, in going right to the farm.

Tony Pezzini, who runs the farm with his dad Guido, says they’re a relatively small operation, so they exert greater control over the harvest.

“We put a lot of care into it. We really baby the plants and artichokes – and we’re able to do that because of the smaller size of our operation, and I wouldn’t want it any other way,” said Tony.

Pezzini farmers pick in the morning and call it quits no later than 1 o’clock in the afternoon. Then the artichokes are taken directly to the cooler, where they are packed inside. That’s what’s different about Pezzini’s artichokes. Some of the bigger farms have to harvest all day long, leaving the harvested artichokes in the field, only to be scooped up at the end of the day for hydro-cooling. By then they’ve been in the sun and have lost some flavor and nutrients.

A quick turnaround from field to pre-cooling helps stop the breakdown process brought on by ethylene gases, which are released by harvested fruits and vegetables. It also helps lengthen their shelf life. Picking in the cool mornings is a natural way to pre-cool the artichokes before they’re moved to the cooler to finish the pre-cooling process.

Artichokes are rich with fiber, potassium, vitamin C and magnesium. In fact, with one medium choke containing about 10 grams of fiber, the FDA has rated artichokes an excellent source of fiber.

Now, back to the baby artichokes. Besides being absolutely adorable, they’re all-edible. Baby artichokes are basically all meat as the inside hasn’t begun to sprout its fuzzy blossom. Babies also haven’t grown thorns yet so there is no reason not to enlist the kids’ help in preparing baby artichokes. My uncle, Paul Sigona, makes the best baby artichokes I’ve ever tasted. His secret…no parboiling, just sautéing after they’ve been striped down to the tender part. We have a few baby artichoke recipes on our blog too.

There are many ways to cook artichokes and even more ways to enjoy them – dip them in butter, mayo or aioli, stuff them with bread crumbs, garlic and olive oil, or eat steamed artichokes plain with a squirt of lemon– no dip necessary! Check out our artichoke recipes, including one for: Grandma Pauline’s Traditional Sicilian Stuffed Artichokes.

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: Artichokes

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: Artichokes

  • Artichokes should have tight and closed leaves.
  • A telltale sign of a fresh artichoke is that the leaves will make a squeaky sound when gently squeezed.
  • As with any good fruit or vegetable they should feel heavy for their size. Light airy artichokes have less meat and are usually old.
  • Frost-kissed artichokes have better flavor – although the black marks on their leaves, created by frost, may not be so pretty, there’s nothing wrong with them. Cold weather (and frost) make for better tasting artichokes.
  • They should have a fresh clean cut stem end.
  • Refrigerate, unwashed, in a plastic bag with a paper towel to absorb moisture for up to 5 days.

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.

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s featuring Artichokes

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s featuring Artichokes

If you’re encountering artichokes for the first time, these jumbo gems may seem a bit intimidating, but don’t let the thorns fool you. Artichokes are great and absolutely fun to eat! You can steam them, stuff them and make them into soups.

The Basics

For easy eating, cut off the top of the artichoke leaves to remove the thorns.

Working with Artichokes

  1. Wash under cold water
  2. Remove lower, small and discolored leaves
  3. Remove stems if attached
  4. Cut off the top 1/4 of the artichoke and trim any thorns
  5. Keep the trimmed artichokes in acidulated water (one tablespoon lemon juice per quart of water) until time to cook.
  6. Cook as desired but not in aluminum or cast iron pots.
  7. Eat the tender portion at the bottom of each leaf, the heart, and even the soft interior leaves. The fuzzy interior choke is inedible.

Simple Steamed Artichokes

Place trimmed and prepped artichokes on a rack an inch or two above boiling water seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon each of olive oil, lemon juice and peppercorns. Cover and steam 25-45 minutes, until tender and leaves pull apart easily.

Alternately, place artichokes in microwave safe bowl with 1/4 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon each of olive oil, lemon juice and peppercorns, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high 6-7 minutes. Let stand covered for 5 minutes more.

Grilled Artichokes

  1. Prep artichokes by removing the smaller or discolored leaves. Remove the stems, cut of 1/4 of the top of the artichoke and, using scissors, trim the thorns from each leaf.

    Artichokes on the grill at Pezzini Farms in Castroville.

  2. Steam or boil artichokes for 15-25 minutes or until tender and leaves pull off easily.
  3. Slice cooked artichokes in half lengthwise and use a spoon or melon baller to remove the fuzzy choke and first few inner layers in the center.
  4. Brush each half with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Place artichokes, with cut side down first, on a hot grill for 5-7 minutes. Turn and grill an additional 5-7 minutes more. Look for nice grill marks on both sides.
  6. Serve with lemon wedges and your dip of choice (butter, aioli or marinara)

 

When I dip, you dip, we dip!

Here are a couple artichoke dips we know you’ll love.

Low-Cal Dill Dip

From the California Artichoke Advisory Board

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup reduced calorie mayo
  • 2 TBL green onion, minced
  • 3 TBL capers, drained and chopped
  • 3/4 tsp dried dill

Directions: Stir all ingredients together. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

The Best Dip: Good Ol’ Butter

Most ‘choke fans love to simply tip a steamed artichoke leaf in butter, and we agree with the California Artichoke Advisory Board on this one…adding a little something to the butter makes it even better!

To your butter, try mixing a little garlic powder, lemon juice, parsley or powdered Ranch dressing mix into melted butter!

Sigona’s Marinara

John Sigona says, “I love dipping artichokes in Sigona’s Old World Marinara – been doing it for years – delicious! Plus, our marinara as a dip with artichokes has less calories than mayo or aioli so it’s a healthier alternative.”

Garlic-Chive Aioli

  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 TBL diced fresh chives
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • A pinch of white pepper (or more, to taste)
  • A pinch of cayenne powder (or more, to taste)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions: Mix all the ingredients for the aioli in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Lemon-Thyme Aioli

Courtesy of Luisa Ormonde of Luisa’s Catering.

  • 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Pinch sugar

Directions: Mix all the ingredients for the aioli in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

 

Pan Fried Baby Artichokes with Mint and Lemon

Recipe and photo courtesy of Turntable Kitchen. Follow the link below for cooking instructions.

  • Pan Fried Baby Artichokes with Mint and Lemon. Recipe and photo courtesy of Turntable Kitchen.

    1 dozen baby artichokes, trimmed and sliced in half, length-wise (see these tips for trimming baby artichokes in Saveur Magazine)

  • zest from 1/2 Meyer lemon
  • 3-4 anchovy fillets
  • salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped mint, plus more for garnish
  • olive oil
  • juice from 1/2 lemon

Directions: find the directions on the Turntable Kitchen website.

Grandma Pauline’s Traditional Sicilian Stuffed Artichokes

This artichoke recipe evokes vivid memories of my childhood when our extended family would visit my grandmother Pauline, my mom’s mom, and gather around the table set with a huge platter of these stuffed artichokes. Everyone would sit together and reach in to pluck off a leaf – it really brought the family together. Artichokes take a while longer to cook when prepared this way, but each petal bursts with layers of flavor so it’s worth it! Stuffs four large artichokes. – John Sigona, Jr.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large artichokes (slice off the top 1 inch of the entire artichoke, use scissors to cut the tips off of each leaf and then slice off the stem/bottom so it sits up straight)
  • 1-1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup Sigona’s fresh press extra virgin olive oil (we recommend our Spanish Arbequina)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 of one onion, diced
  • 1.5 oz. anchovies, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon

Directions:  In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onions and work for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Stir in the anchovies and melt into the oil. Cook for about 2 minutes.

Add in the breadcrumbs and reduce heat to low. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to bring the mix together. Turn off the burner and then stir in Parmesan. Set mixture aside.

Fit a large pot with a steamer basket and fill with about an inch of water and the juice of 1 lemon. Cover and bring the water to a low boil so it creates steam.

To stuff the artichokes, start at the crown and peel back a petal to make a little pocket. Fill the pocket with a small spoonful of the breadcrumb mix – remember you have 4 artichokes to stuff so measure spoonfuls accordingly. Move to the next petal; repeat until the entire artichoke is stuffed.

Set stuffed artichokes upright on steamer basket and steam until a leaf pulls out easily. Begin checking at about 35 minutes. When done, place on serving dish alongside an empty bowl to dump used leaves.

Artichoke Frittata

Frittatas are simple dishes that take just minutes to prepare and are great for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. They’re different from a quiche in that they do not have a crust. Using egg whites makes for a healthier option, and you can add in as many veggies as you like. For this one, we’re just using artichokes, but if you’re looking to add something, we suggest mushrooms. Serves 4. – Carmelo Sigona

Ingredients:

  • 3 large artichokes
  • 2 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 eggs, such as our pastured eggs from Wattle & Comb (you can do 4 whole eggs and 4 egg whites, if desired), lightly beaten with a splash of milk
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar

Directions: Par (or trim) down the artichokes to the cups – this means peel off all the leaves and cut out the fuzzy choke so all you’re left with is the heart.

Cook the heart of the artichokes in boiling water for about 10-15 minutes. Remove and cool. Then chop into smaller 1-2 inch pieces.

Season and sauté the shallots in olive oil for a couple minutes. Add the garlic and diced artichokes. Stir constantly for several minutes to let all the flavors come together.

Remove from heat and incorporate the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Working quickly, pour egg and artichoke mix into a lightly greased pie or frittata dish. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake at 325F for about 30 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temp.

Grilled Baby Artichokes with Lemon-Thyme Aioli

This recipe, submitted by our friend Luisa Ormonde of Luisa’s Catering in San Carlos, is simply mouthwatering. The presentation is pretty snazzy, too! Original post here. Serves 4.

For the artichokes:

  • Grilled Baby Artichokes with Lemon-Thyme Aioli. Recipe and photo courtesy of Luisa Ormonde of Luisa’s Catering.

    1 lemon, halved

  • 12 fresh baby artichokes
  • 1/2 cup (Sigona’s Fresh Press) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed and minced
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the aioli:

  • 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Pinch sugar

Directions: Mix all the ingredients for the aioli in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Squeeze juice from lemon into bowl of cold water. Cut stem off 1 artichoke, leaving about 1 inch. Snap off bottom 3 rows of leaves. Cut off tip of artichoke. Halve artichoke lengthwise. Scrape out choke. Place in lemon water. Repeat with remaining artichokes.

Steam the artichokes until crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Drain; pat dry.

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Mix oil and garlic in small bowl. Skewer artichokes and brush artichokes with some of garlic oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Grill until tender and charred in spots, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer artichokes to platter.

Serve artichokes warm or at room temperature, offering lemon thyme aioli alongside.

Carmelo’s Creamy Fettuccine with Garlic & Artichokes

This is a recipe I throw together often during artichoke season. The earthy, nutty flavor of the artichokes adds a hearty characteristic to this creamy, lemony comfort dish. – Carmelo Sigona

Ingredients:

  • 1 package fresh Saporito Fine Pasta (found at Sigona’s)
  • 2 large artichokes
  • 1/4 cup Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, rough chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 TBL heavy cream
  • 2 TBL butter
  • 2 tsp lemon zest (from about 1 small lemon)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions: Par (or trim) down the artichokes to the cups – this means peel off all the leaves and cut out the fuzzy choke so all you’re left with is the heart.

Cook the heart and stems of the artichokes in boiling water for about 10-15 minutes. Remove and cool. Then rough chop into pieces.

In the meantime, boil the pasta according to package directions. Time the pasta so that it’s cooked to al dente and is ready to go from being drained into the artichoke mix (see direction below).

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and chopped garlic cloves over medium heat, stirring as to not burn the garlic. Add the wine and reduce by half.  Add the chopped artichoke hearts and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the cream and butter. Cook for 1 minute or until butter is melted.

Stir in cooked and drained pasta and then turn off the heat. Gently mix in lemon zest and the parmigiano reggiano cheese. Serve warm.

Grilled Artichokes, Roasted Striped Beets with Rainbow Radishes

Try any variety of beet with this recipe, the striped Chioggia beet makes for a fancy presentation! Recipe and photo courtesy of food blogger Mary Platis of California Greek Girl. Serves 4.

Grilled Artichokes, Roasted Striped Beets with Rainbow Radishes. Recipe and photo courtesy of food blogger Mary of California Greek Girl.

Ingredients:

  • 4 beets, roasted
  • 4 small artichokes, cooked and cleaned
  • 2-3 radishes, cut in half (look for colorful “Easter Egg” radishes. Regular red radishes work too)
  • 2 TBL (Sigona’s Fresh Press) olive oil
  • 1 tsp (Sigona’s traditional) balsamic
  • 2-3 leaves of  parsley, finely chopped
  • wooden kabob skewers (soak in water for at least 10 minutes before skewering food and placing on bbq)

Directions: Wrap the unpeeled beets in foil and roast in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until soft. Peel while still warm, and slice into quarters. Set aside.

Place artichokes in a pot of boiling water, and cook for 35-45 minutes until knife can be pierced easily in the stem.

Peel away all the leaves, remove the center, being careful not to break the artichoke. Trim all around any rough outer leaves. Cut in half and set aside.

Wash and cut radishes in half.

Skewer the cooked beets, radish, and cooked artichoke. Lightly oil the BBQ and cook the skewers for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Sprinkle with fresh parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serve warm.

 

Dried Calimyrna Figs Packed with Antioxidants

John Sigona’s Pick of the Week: Dried Calimyrna Figs

Central California 

Jumbo Dried Calimyrna Figs 

Reg. $5.99 (10.5 oz. container)

On sale for $3.99

Simply the very best…luscious, rare, jumbo-sized Calimyrna figs…you’d be hard pressed to find these incredible California whole dried figs anywhere but at Sigona’s Farmers Market.

Many of you have asked that I put our jumbo-sized Calimyrna dried figs on sale again. Lucky for you I’ve secured another great buy — so, once again, here is your requested special price!

Dried California Calimyrna figs are of superb quality. They’re big and plump, versatile, healthy and absolutely delicious. They are a delicious, nutritious treat to be enjoyed in numerous ways:

  • Easy to stuff with your favorite cheese: try a few with Gorgonzola and walnuts or pair with any type of goat cheese and serve alongside walnuts/pecans
  • Wrap them with prosciutto and serve with blue cheese
  • Blend up a fig-banana smoothie
  • Chop them up for a fig-nut sandwich
  • Add diced figs to a goat cheese pizza
  • Bake up a cambozola and fig pizza on focaccia bread
  • Snack on them out of hand
  • Add chopped figs to cereals or other fresh fruit smoothies

    John outside with produce

    John Sigona is the dried fruit & nut buyer for Sigona’s Farmers Markets in Palo Alto and Redwood City, Calif.

Also, check out the following nutritional info is from the California Fig Advisory Board:

  • Fresh and dried figs contain disease-fighting antioxidants
  • Fresh and dried figs contain good amounts of calcium
  • Fresh and dried figs contain good amounts of potassium
  • Fresh and dried figs contain good amounts of iron
  • And—lots of dietary fiber

May 8, 2012

Mother’s Day Breakfast Treat: Strawberry & Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast

Strawberry & Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast

Luisa Ormonde's Strawberry & Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast for Mother's DayRecipe courtesy of Luisa Ormonde of Luisa’s Catering. Luisa says, “I made this for our friends that came over our house for brunch. I thought with Mother’s Day coming up, this would be a great recipe to share…it’s great for treating mom to a breakfast in bed! I make my own brioche (see recipe here: Simple Brioche Loaf) but you could certainly purchase one already made”. Time: 20 mins. Serves 4.

For the filling:

  • 12 (or so) fresh organic strawberries, sliced in half
  • 1 small jar of quality strawberry preserves/jam (Luisa used Sigona’s strawberry preserves)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese (very cold), sliced into 12 slices

For the toast:

  • 8 thick slices brioche bread
  • 4 large eggs (Luisa used Wattle & Comb pastured eggs, found only at Sigona’s!)
  • 1/2 cup organic cream
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • pinch of pink Himalayan salt

Fresh strawberry coulis:

  • 1 small package organic strawberries
  • fine sugar to tasteLuisa Ormonde's Strawberry & Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast for Mother's Day
  • fresh lemon juice, to taste

What else:

  • unsalted butter, for buttering pan/griddle
  • powdered sugar, for garnish
  • fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

To make strawberry coulis: Blend strawberries, sugar and lemon juice with a hand blender of regular blender Strain into a bowl. Pour into a plastic squeeze bottle (if you got one) and chill until ready to use.

For the French toast: Lay out all 8 slices of bread. On 4 of the slices, place 3 slices of cream cheese slices, some strawberry jam and top with 3 strawberry halves. Top those with the other 4 plain slices of bread (just like you are making a sandwich!).

Luisa Ormonde's Strawberry & Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast for Mother's DayIn a shallow baking dish or pie plate, whisk together the eggs, cream, cinnamon and salt. One at a time, place the “sandwich” in the egg mixture, soaking about 20-30 seconds per side. Remove the bread and allow the excess custard to drip off. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining “sandwiches.”

Add about a 1 tablespoon of butter to the heated skillet/griddle and coat. Add the filled slices of toast to the skillet/griddle in a single layer. Cook until light golden brown and crisp, about 1-2 minutes per side, adding more butter to the skillet/griddle as needed.

To serve: Cut each “sandwich” in half. Squirt/spoon strawberry coulis on serving platter or individual plates. Transfer French toasts to serving platter/plates, dust with powdered sugar and garnish with fresh mint sprigs.

May 2, 2012

Broccolette: The Amazingly Healthy & Quick Veggie

Broccolette: The Amazingly Healthy & Quick Veggie

It tastes good, it’s easy to cook and it’s good for you too! Whether called broccolette or broccolini, this locally grown veggie is an easy and nutritious addition to weeknight dinners.

By Robbie Sigona

As healthy as broccoli, but without that cabbage-y note, broccolette is a great way to revitalize weeknight dinner plates as a quick, flavorful and nutritious side veggie. Plus, this all-edible vegetable can be cooked and ready to go in just minutes.

All in less time than it takes to steam broccoli!

For a simple side, all you have to do is blanch a bunch in boiling water for three minutes, drain and sauté with a little olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and seasoning. Viola! It’s ready. Uncle Carmelo did this for Easter, but he blanched the broccolette ahead of time and popped it in an ice bath until it was time to eat. Just before we sat down to eat he sautéed the broccolette to reheat and add flavor. Simple and delicious!

While broccolette may be green, it’s surprisingly packed with vitamin C. Only one cup, about eight stalks, provides 130 percent of the daily recommended requirement. Plus, one cup is only 35 calories and presents a significant amount of fiber and vitamin A.

You Say Broccolini, I Say Broccolette

“What’s in a name? Whether our featured green veggie is called broccolette, broccolini, baby broccoli or mini-broccoli, it’s still a cross between broccoli and gai lan (also known as Chinese broccoli).

Broccolette, the name given by our local supplier, locally based Earthbound Farm, is like crisp (not firm), delicate broccoli, but sweeter and less fibrous. It has a flavor similar to broccoli with a hint of pepper and mustard, but without broccoli’s cabbage-y note. It’s its gai lan heritage that provides its sweet factor and lightly crisp disposition.

Broccolette is grown year-round, but it is in especially good supply from local growers just south of Hollister, Calif., this time of year. When our region experiences cooler weather, Earthbound works with growers from warmer growing areas, such as Southern California and Yuma, Ariz.

My Uncle Carmelo and my dad Joe remember when we first brought in broccolette. We worked with one of the early growers from Salinas from whom we also received large deliveries of broccoli each week. The brothers knew that this new cross between broccoli and gai lan would be a hit among our customers so they brought it in and haven’t looked back since.

Steam it, Stir-Fry it, Put it on a Pizza

The best part about broccolette is it’s all edible, stems and all. The ends may need a bit of a trim before cooking, but that’s it. Broccolette can be eaten steamed, parboiled, stir-fried, roasted or raw, and is versatile enough that it can also be used as a snazzy topping for pizza.

Just keep in mind that it shouldn’t be overcooked. Broccolette should remain juicy and crunchy for most recipes. Make sure to check out our broccolette recipes, including one for Broccolette & Charred Lemon Flatbread Pizza with Roasted Garlic Spread.

We hope you come in to pick up a bunch or two of broccolette. With its easy prep and pleasant flavor, it’s guaranteed to be a go to for fast weeknight dinners. See you in the store!

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s featuring Broccolette

In the Kitchen with Sigona’s featuring Broccolette

Aww, the luxury of a quick, healthy vegetable. Broccolette is perfect for a weeknight side dish, plus, it’s all-edible so enjoy the whole thing from stem to top. If necessary, trim about 1/4-1/2 inch from the bottom if the end doesn’t have a fresh cut. Make sure to rinse and dry well before using.

Simple Garlic Sautéed Broccolette

I put the finishing touches on this dish as everyone was about to sit down to Easter dinner. Blanching the broccolette and putting it in an ice bath earlier in the day provides even more sanity for the cook come crunch time. Serves 2. – Carmelo Sigona

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch broccolette (ends trimmed 1/4-1/2 inch if needed)
  • Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil
  • A pinch or two of red pepper flakes
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced

Directions: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccolette to blanch for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes and the sliced garlic. Cook for a minute or two, stirring, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Drain the broccolette, pat dry** and add to the sauté pan. Turn heat to medium-high, season, and cook for a minute or two. Turn off heat and serve.

**Cook’s note: Broccolette can be prepared to this point and placed in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, drain and set aside or refrigerate, if waiting 30 minutes or more. Then, just before meal time, pop the cooled broccolette in the sauté pan and follow directions until reheated.

 

Roasted Salmon with Lemon, Garlic & Capers with a side of Parmesan & Lemon Roasted Broccolette

This is a delicious, summery dinner that is full of nutrition and flavor. Recipe and photos courtesy of food and beauty blogger Arantha of Gourmet Beauty. Serves 2. Serve with Parmesan Lemon Roasted Broccolette (recipe follows).

Roasted Salmon with Lemon, Garlic & Capers with Parmesan & Lemon Roasted Broccolette. Recipe courtesy of food and beauty blogger Arantha of Gourmet Beauty.

For the salmon:

  • 2 (6 oz.)  salmon fillets or steaks (or 1 10-12 oz. filet)
  • (Sigona’s Fresh Press) olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4-5 lemon slices
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tsp. capers, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • A mix of sea salt, pepper. lemon pepper, garlic salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425.
  • Line a baking pan with aluminum foil.  Place the fillets on the foil and brush with olive oil.
  • Season with diced garlic, sea salt, pepper, lemon pepper and garlic salt. As much or as little you like.
  • Sprinkle a teaspoon of capers on each fillet then top each piece with 2 lemon slices.
  • Mix the lemon juice and white wine together. Evenly spoon the mixture over each piece of salmon.
  • Optional 1: wrap each fillet in foil, sealing in all the juices.  It makes for very moist salmon.
  • Option 2: Place the pan, uncovered, in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until done.
  • Serve with a side of roasted broccolette, recipe below, and brown rice.

For the Parmesan & Lemon Roasted Broccolette

Recipe and photos courtesy of food and beauty blogger Arantha of Gourmet Beauty. Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 1/2 bunch broccolette (about 6-8 oz.), rinsed and dried very well
  • 1 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • zest from 1/2 lemon
  • red pepper flakes
  • A mix of sea salt, pepper, lemon pepper, garlic salt
  • grated parmigiano reggiano

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425.
  • Place broccolette in a large freezer bag. Add in the olive oil and garlic, and then add salt, pepper, lemon pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic salt to taste. Seal the bag then shake it well to evenly coat the broccolette.
  • Remove from the bag and place broccolette on an unlined baking sheet.  Separate each piece so they aren’t touching. If overcrowded, they won’t roast as well.
  • Roast for about 10 minutes, or until it pierces easily with a fork and some of the heads are turning a bit crispy and brown.
  • Remove from the oven and sprinkle the parmigiano reggiano evenly over the broccolette.  Return to the oven for 1 minute to let the cheese melt.
  • Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving dish. Pour lemon juice over the top, lightly toss to coat, then sprinkle with the lemon zest.

Broccolette with Asian Orange Dressing

The citrusy-Asian flavor of this dish pairs well with fish, pork or a grain-based meal. Top the finished dish with roasted, chopped cashews and orange segments. Adapted from Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini by Elizabeth Schneider. Serves 4-6 as a side.

Ingredients:

  • 3 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil, such Sigona’s Fresh Press Arbosanna from California (or substitute corn oil)
  • 1 TBL Asian (dark) sesame oil
  • 1 TBL Sigona’s 12-year-aged traditional balsamic
  • 1 TBL Shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)
  • 3/4 TBL grated orange zest
  • 2 TBL fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 tsp. grated ginger, optional
  • 2 small spring onions, chopped
  • 1 lb. broccolette (about 2 bunches), rinsed and dried
  • Optional: roasted, chopped cashews
  • Optional: 4-6 orange segments

Directions: combine oils, balsamic, soy, zest, juice and ginger (if using) in a food processor and whirl to blend. Add the onion and blend until smooth. Continue processing until fairly pale and creamy, not just until pureed.

Set broccolette on a steamer rack over boiling water. Cover and steam until crunchy-tender, about 3-5 minutes.

Remove from steamer and arrange on a serving platter. Drizzle the dressing over the top and serve hot or warm. Top with roasted, chopped cashews and orange segments if desired.

Broccolette & Charred Lemon Flatbread Pizza with Roasted Garlic Spread

This pizza sounds perfect for a springtime lunch or appetizer. Recipe and photos courtesy of Sara and Hugh Forte of Sprouted Kitchen. Add or take away toppings as desired, as Sara says, “I am giving general amounts for the toppings, but pizza should most definitely be made to your preference, so I suggest winging it.” Serves 2 as entree, 4 as an appetizer.

Broccolette & Charred Lemon Flatbread Pizza with Roasted Garlic Spread. Recipe and photos courtesy of Sara and Hugh Forte of Sprouted Kitchen.

For the pizza:

  • Fresh pizza dough for one pizza (Either make your own or use fresh, store-bought dough)
  • 1 small bunch broccolette
  • 1 small Meyer or regular lemon
  • 2 TBL finely chopped shallot
  • 6-8 oz. soft goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmigiano reggiano
  • (Sigona’s Fresh Press) extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Sea salt and pepper, for topping

Roasted garlic spread:

  • 3 TBL (Sigona’s Fresh Press) extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 head roasted garlic (directions below)

Directions: Prepare crust according to instructions. Preheat the oven to 500′.

Steam the broccolette for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove and rinse with cold water. Give it a rough chop and set aside.

Cut the lemon into slices as thin as possible with a serrated knife or mandolin. Remove any seeds.

To make the roasted garlic paste, put the olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of the head into the oil and smush fiercely with a fork to create a paste. You can also use a food processor for smoother consistency.

Roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle a bit of cornmeal or flour on a cookie sheet and transfer the dough to the cookie sheet. Evenly spread the garlic paste, add on the desired amount of broccolette, shallots, goat cheese, lemon slices and the grated parmigiano reggiano. Drizzle with olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and put it in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 12-15 minutes until brown spots start to show on top. Remove, slice and enjoy warm. Top with more parmigiano reggiano if desired.

How to prepare roasted garlic: Peel away the outer layers of skin from an entire bulb of garlic, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Cut off 1/4 inch of the top of the bulb.

Place the bulb in a cup of a muffin pan then drizzle with oil. Cover the pan with foil and bake at 400°F for 30-35 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when pressed. Set aside until cool to the touch.

 

Orzo with Prosciutto, Broccolette, Zucchini and Peas

Recipe from Earthbound Farm, the company from which we get our broccolette. The salad is good at any temperature, making it fantastic fare for your first spring picnic. Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups orzo
  • 2 bunches broccolette, trimmed and cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 TBL Sigona’s Fresh Press extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/4” thick pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup shelled fresh English peas
  • 8 oz. diced prosciutto
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

Directions: Bring a large pot of well-salted water (at least 4 quarts) to a boil. Add the orzo and stir for 30 seconds. Cook for three minutes. Add the broccolette and cook, covered, until the broccolette is crisp-tender and the orzo is al dente (7-8 mins).

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it just begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the zucchini and raise heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring, until the zucchini is just crisp-tender, about 3 mins. Add the peas, prosciutto and stock, and cook until the peas are crisp-tender, about 2-3 mins.

Drain pasta and broccolette, then add it to the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is very hot, about 2 mins. Add the mint and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve warm or at room temperature with grated parmigiano reggiano.

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: Broccolette

Robbie Sigona’s Produce Tips: Broccolette

  • Choose broccolette that is straight (it curls up with age).
  • The top buds should have no yellowing and should be tightly closed (no flowering).
  • When shopping for broccolette, you might find it sold as broccolini.
  • This vegetable should be somewhat firm when fresh, but not near as firm as broccoli because of its gai lan characteristics.
  • Broccolette is all-edible so enjoy the whole thing from stem to top, just trim about 1/4-1/2 inch from the bottom and rinse and dry well before using.
  • It can be eaten steamed, parboiled, stir-fried, roasted or raw. If steaming or parboiling, be careful not to overcook…pull out slightly firm as it will continue to cook. If not using immediately, place in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
  • Learn more about broccolette, such as what it’s a cross between, in our feature article. Find recipes for broccolette on our blog too.

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.

Tea Steeped with Sigona’s Dried Fruits

John Sigona’s Pick of the Week

My wife Agueda and I enjoy a nice cup of tea now and again, but last night I mixed things up for a surprisingly unique treat.

I tried experimenting with a mix of my favorite bulk tea and Sigona’s diced, dried fruits.

I mixed a number of Sigona’s unique dried fruits in with the tea leaves and let them steep together before straining. To our delight, this mild and healthy blend was quite delicious and satisfying.

The recipe is easy-breezy. You can use some or all of my dried fruit suggestions, depending upon your desired degree for complexity of flavors. Here, basically is how I created a wonderful after dinner brewed tea.

  • As many tea leaves, or single sachets, for as many cups you’re preparing (I suggest red, white or green tea)
  • About 2 TBL per person of a mix or combo of the following, diced, all natural, nothing added, no sulfur…
    • Dried Fuji Apples
    • Dried Granny Smith Apples
    • Organic Goji Berries
    • Dried White Nectarines
    • Dried Yellow Peaches
    • Dried Bartlett Pears
    • Dried Hachiya Persimmons
    • Dried Navel Oranges
    • Dried Lemons
    • Dried Pineapple
John outside with produce

John Sigona is the dried fruit & nut buyer for Sigona’s Farmers Markets in Palo Alto and Redwood City, Calif.

Simply dice the dried fruits and mix with the dried tea leaves. Pour hot water (no hotter than 200 degrees) over the blend and let sit for 3-4 minutes (I added one-fourth teaspoon coconut sugar for myself; my wife was fine without the sugar). Strain the mixture into tea cups, sip and enjoy.

If you like it, mix larger quantities of the ingredients together in a canister that seals well and store it in the cupboard. It should retain its freshness for at least 5-6 months.

By the way, the listed dried fruits, except the goji berries and pineapple, are grown, dried and processed in Central California by my longtime friends’ family-owned and operated ranch.

HOPE YOU ENJOY!!

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