Did you know that cucumbers belong to the same plant family as melons, squash, and pumpkin? That’s right; those vine growing veggies are cucurbitaceae. You can slice them, pickle them, or even use them on your face to reduce puffiness. Cukes contain vitamin K, which can help your body absorb all the vitamin D you’re getting in the summer sun. They also contain enough sugar, B vitamins, and electrolytes to help prevent a hangover or headache. At only 8 calories per ½ cup serving, it’s worth it to add more cucumber to our diets.
Cucumber and whipped feta
1 pound feta cheese, cut into 2 pieces, at room temperature
1/4 pound cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cucumbers (1 1/2 pounds)—halved, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Toasted pita or baguette slices, for serving
HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
In a large bowl, cover the feta with water and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to temper the saltiness. Drain and coarsely crumble the feta. Transfer to a food processor and puree. Add the cream cheese, heavy cream, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and process until smooth and airy. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, toss the cucumbers with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Add the oregano and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 2 days.
Serve the whipped feta lightly chilled or at room temperature with the cucumbers and toasts.
If you or your family ever had a garden in the backyard it probably had zucchini in it. This cucumber look alike, also known as the courgette, is a summer squash that grows abundantly enough to feed an army. Did anyone in your family make loaf after loaf of zucchini bread? Have you tried the trendy new spaghetti made by spiraling zucchini? And don’t forget the French favorite ratatouille.
This veggie not only tastes good but is for you too. Zucchini is high in manganese and vitamin C. You’ll find a wide spectrum of nutrients in it from vitamin A to potassium, and even folate. All of this makes it a heart healthy food. So if you’re cutting back on those carbs and missing red sauce, give this Stuffed Zucchini a try.
1 ½ c medium-grain rice
2 TB olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
~3 cloves garlic, minced
2 c peeled and diced tomatoes, with their juices (you can use fresh or canned)
3 oz tomato paste
1 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp salt, divided
¾ tsp ground black pepper, divided
2 bay leaves
¼ c chopped fresh parsley
1 lb ground beef, turkey or lamb (meat that is between 80-90% lean works well)
3 TB butter, melted
Fresh lemons, cut into wedges (for garnish)
Clean the zucchini and trim off the ends. Cut each zucchini into 2 or 3 equal pieces; hollow out the insides.
In a 5-quart pot with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat; add the onion and sauté for 6-8 minutes, or until softened; add the garlic and sauté another minute. Remove ¾ of the onion/garlic mixture and reserve in a separate bowl. For the tomato broth, to the pot, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, bay leaves, fresh parsley, and enough water to fill the pot so that it is 2/3 full. Heat the tomato broth over low heat until it comes to a simmer.
For the zucchini filling, mix together the reserved onion and garlic, raw ground meat, uncooked rice, melted butter, 1 ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, and allspice. Stuff each zucchini shell with the meat and rice mixture; leave a gap of ~¾” at the top of each zucchini because the rice will expand when cooking.
Add the stuffed zucchini to the simmering tomato broth and cook with the lid on for 60-75 minutes. If the zucchini doesn’t all fit in the pot because there’s too much liquid, you take some out. Serve the zucchini garnished with fresh lemon, alongside the tomato broth.
Have you seen the pretty pink and golden oyster mushrooms grown in Flint Township that are available at The Local Grocer? Spring and fall are when these tasty beauties are readily available. Mushrooms have a high protein content, which is why they are a favorite for vegetarians and vegans. Oyster mushrooms are low fat and high fiber, and they can also help boost our immune system.
We also have sustainably harvested ramps at the market. Ramps are wild leeks from the allium family (think onions and garlic), and their wide green leaves look a lot like a smaller and more tender version of the leek. Fun fact: Chicago get its name from the Ramp. The 17th century French explorer LaSalle and his naturalist spelled the Miami and Illinois tribes word for ramp as Chicagou. So there you have it - The Windy Wild Leek City.
The real reason we are talking about oyster mushrooms and ramps is that they taste delicious together. Yes, they can be used in any of your soup or stir fry recipes, but sometimes keeping it simple is best. For mushroom lovers, when sautéed together they make a great side dish for any meal.
Sautéed Oyster Mushrooms for 2
2 packages oyster mushrooms (your choice of pink, golden, Phoenix or king)
1 package ramps
1 tsp grated garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
2 tbsp olive oil
Squeeze half a lemon
Splash of soy sauce or tamari if gluten free (optional)
Gently heat oil over medium heat in sautée pan adding garlic and ginger for 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add mushrooms and toss to coat in oil, heating for 3 minutes. Add ramp leaves and wilt. Remove pan from heat and add lemon and soy sauce. Stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
The method of this pesto is the same as for Kale Pesto. Fill the food processor with cheese, garlic, nuts and oil. Swap out one beloved green for another. But sorrel, what is sorrel?
Sorrel is a culinary herb that is found in temperate climates. It is very tender, lemony tasting and best used immediately after harvest. It has a centuries long history in recipes for soups, stews, salads and sauces, when we grew or foraged for our own ingredients instead of going to the supermarket. This is why you don’t often see it in the markets. Leave it to The Local Grocer to grow it locally for you, so you can rediscover this herb along with foodies everywhere.
Sorrel Pesto: great as an interesting pasta coating or a thick sauce for fish.
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh sorrel, ribs removed
1/3 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
In a food processor or blender puree the sorrel, the parsley, the garlic, the parmesan, the pine nuts and the oil, transfer the pesto to a jar. The pesto keeps, covered and chilled, for 2 weeks. Makes about 1 cup.
To use the pesto: For every pound of dried pasta cooking in a kettle of boiling water, stir together in a heated serving bowl 3/4 cup of the pesto and 2/3 cup of the hot cooking water. When the pasta is al dente, drain it in a colander, add it to the pesto mixture, and toss the mixture until the pasta is coated well.
It may not look like it outside, but it really is spring. We have crossed the threshold of the spring equinox and are barreling on toward the summer solstice. The days are longer and the temperatures are warm enough for greens to thrive in hoophouses and greenhouses. It’s not the first time we’ve mentioned that lots of studies have shown leafy greens to be great liver cleansers, loaded with chlorophyll, and help neutralize heavy metals, chemicals and pesticides in the body. Since greens arrive first in spring and thrive, it’s also no coincidence that in Traditional Chinese Medicine and their Five Element Theory that the element of wood represents spring and is associated with the liver and gall bladder. Those organs help us purify our bodies. This is why so many different health modalities encourage a spring cleanse. Over the next couple of months use those abundant greens to help the liver and gallbladder cleanse our bodies, just like we feel compelled to clean the house this time of year.
So let’s get our bodies and energies unstuck with some green smoothies!
I know, I know. This post is supposed to be about kale, but really it's about basil. Everyday people are looking to purchase some basil from us, and since we only sell Michigan grown produce at The Local Grocer it won't be available until June. Basil is an herb that’s native to the Mediterranean and the tropical regions of Asia. This means that even though hoop houses can extend our growing season here in Michigan, it still gets way too cold and the hours of daylight are way too short for basil to grow in the winter. To enjoy it all year long you need to freeze the herbs for use later or grow your own indoors. Another alternative is to simple replace the basil with other greens. That can work for recipes like kale pesto. Give it a try!
Food Processor Kale Pesto
1 bunch dino kale
2 cloves garlic
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup olive oil
Juice from ½ lemon
Dash of salt and pepper
Place all ingredients in food processor and blend for 30 to 60 seconds until you get a nice paste.
This recipe is simple and flexible. If you looooove cheese add a little more. If you loooooove garlic add more (some recipes call for 5-6 cloves)! Or take it down a notch and go light on your least favorite ingredients. Make it your own and enjoy your green covered pasta. Don't worry, basil will be back soon.
It’s that time of year again! Sign up now and beginning in mid June (give or take a week depending on the weather) and you can start picking up your weekly veggie box. We are again offering 16 weeks of produce grown locally and without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Our farm (Flint Ingredient Company) is located in the Beecher area and is on well water, so no worries there.
This year you have even more flexibility when choosing which option is best for you. You can pick up your share on Tuesdays at The Local Grocer store at Martin Luther King and University, or pick up on Thursdays at the Farmer's Market. In addition to the Small, Medium and Large Share, we have a Customizable Share in different sizes. The Customizable Share allows you purchase any item at either of our two locations.
You can register for your CSA veggie box on our website. Go to the CSA link at the top of the page and in the pull down menu select Member Sign Up. We have a limited number of shares available. Registration is open until we sell out, so hurry to get in on the veggie action.