Author Archive | Jamie Collins

WHAT’S IN SEASON: BROCCOLI RABE

A vegetable with many names, this delicious brassica has found a New World home in the Salinas Valley

PHOTOGRAPHY BY PATRICK TREGENZA

It’s early spring and not many sexy new spring vegetables are on the market tables yet. Now is the time to venture into uncharted territory and experiment with healthy, spiked leaf bunches of broccoli rabe, also known as broccoli raab or rapini. This tasty green, with its tender thin stems, complements rich meats like lamb and pork, adds a mustardy, slightly bitter—yet nutty—punch to carb-laden dishes like polenta and pasta and gives nice flavor and texture when steamed or sautéed and added to sandwiches made on a thick baguette soaked with olive oil and vinegar.

A cruciferous turnip relative, broccoli rabe is also called Italian turnip greens and … Read More

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WHAT’S IN SEASON: TOMATILLOS

Discover an easy-to-love,
easy-to-grow way to add flavor to your cooking

Photo by Patrick Tregenza

PHOTOGRAPHY BY PATRICK TREGENZA AND CRYSTAL BIRNS

Tomatillos, a sour fruit encapsulated by a thin, papery husk, can bring bright and tangy flavor to almost any dish, while packing a punch that no other fruit can quite replicate. With minimal effort, delectable tomatillos can be much more than salsa verde—they can be sliced thinly and eaten raw on toast with some soft sheep cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, braised alongside a chicken, made into a green curry with coconut milk, sautéed with onions as a side dish, blackened in the oven and made into a tapenade with some olives or blended into a tasty salad dressing.

Originating in Mexico, where it is also … Read More

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WHAT’S IN SEASON: BLUEBERRIES

A relatively new crop for local farms, blueberries are a summertime treat

PHOTOGRAPHY BY PATRICK TREGENZA

At Serendipity Farms we have an acre of highbush organic blueberries tucked away in a warm microclimate of Watsonville. Eight delicious varieties ripen over a 12-week period, bringing a luxurious abundance of tasty, antioxidant-rich fruit that is one of the healthiest on the planet. It is my family’s favorite time of year, and mine, too, as it reminds me of one of the things I appreciate most about farming: Life is very rich when you have access to the freshest, best-tasting fruits and vegetables and the opportunity to share them with the community. And as a farmer, blueberry season also represents the end of winter and “lean” times, which is always worth celebrating!

Blueberries … Read More

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WHAT’S IN SEASON: ASPARAGUS

If you love fresh, local asparagus, you might want to start growing your own

PHOTOGRAPHY BY PATRICK TREGENZA

Elegant asparagus—often called the king of vegetables—has long been considered a sure sign of spring, but cultivation of the delicate green spears here in California has declined sharply due to labor costs and the huge amount of land required to grow it. Farmers’ market favorite HOG Farms stopped growing asparagus this year, but a few other growers are stepping up to fill the gap. And it is well worth seeking out locally grown, in-season asparagus—because the taste can’t be beat.

Asparagus, or “grass” as it’s called in the produce industry, is in the lily family. In order to have a continuous supply from January to June, it is grown in three main … Read More

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WHAT’S IN SEASON: CARROTS

 This vibrant year-round staple tastes best in winter when its sugar content is highest


Photo courtesy Ventana Big Sur

Did you know that although carrots can be grown practically year-round in the Monterey Bay area, they are the tastiest when harvested and eaten in winter? This is because carrots, like parsnips, convert their starches to sugars when it turns cold, an adaptation that protects their cells from freezing when the temperature drops—and makes them an especially flavorful as well as beautiful seasonal vegetable for your winter menus.

COLORFUL HISTORY

Wild carrots evolved in many different colors and the ubiquitous orange color only appeared a few hundred years ago, apparently after seed breeders decided that orange carrots had the best flavor. If you talk to Ronald Donkervoort, who owns Windmill Farm … Read More

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