Seasonal Produce Tips: Volume 6

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Fall produce is just as bountiful as summer. Here is a list of favorites:

Peppers - peppers come in a variety of shapes, colors and heat intensities. Keep a vari- ety on hand to make salsa and to garnish various dishes with colorful strips. Use hot peppers in place of salty seasonings.

Zucchini - summer squash is bountiful now at the end of summer/early fall in many places including: a garden, farmer’s market or grocery store. There is nothing better than fresh steamed zucchini slices and they cook so quickly! Other ways to use zucchini: grate it and put it in pancakes, muffins and salads. Add to soups for color. Add to pasta dishes or salads. Another delicious option is to marinate in salad dressing and broil in the oven or finish on the grill.

Potatoes - most stores are offering a greater variety of potatoes than ever before. Plus farmer’s markets and farm stands offer wonderful home grown varieties that are very fresh and in a smaller size. Here is a tip for making the best mashed potatoes: cook them slowly and they will be more fluffy and smooth when done. They will mash easier without getting gummy, too.

Sweet potatoes can be cooked quickly in the microwave and topped with cinnamon and light margarine for a delicious side dish that is fast and hearty. Their bright orange color and sweet flavor make them disappear fast!

Winter squash comes in all shapes and sizes and like the sweet potato it is wonderful in color and flavor not to mention nutrients. Take care when cutting because it is very tough. We recommend a cleaver and keeping both hands on the handle of the knife so they never go near the blade. On larger squash we use half and refrigerate half for later. It can be used steamed, in chili or in pie!

Pumpkins are coming into the market now this year. Here is an idea for you to enjoy pumpkin without throwing it away after Halloween. Purchase a pie pumpkin - it is a smaller pumpkin that has an outer skin with a net-like texture. It is about the size of a volley ball. This year we are going to keep it as a table center piece, using edible markers to make a fun or scary jack-o-lantern face. When the time is right it can be steamed and made into a pie!

Other varieties of pumpkin include seed pumpkins and jack-o-lantern pumpkins. The latter can make a good pie but it is usually hit or miss and often not possible after carved and displayed outside.

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