08 Jun Tips for Buying Fresh Squash (Summer)

Summer squash includes those varieties which are harvested while still immature and when the entire squash is tender and edible. They include the yellow Crookneck, the large Straight neck, the greenish-white Patty Pan, and the slender green Zucchini. Some of these squash are available at all times of the year.

Look for squash that are tender and well developed, firm, and fresh-appearing. You can identify a tender squash, because the skin is glossy instead of dull, and it is neither hard nor tough. Avoid stale or over mature squash, which will have a dull appearance and a hard, tough surface. Such squash usually have enlarged seeds and dry, stringy flesh. Also avoid squash with discolored or pitted areas.

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08 Jun Tips for Buying Fresh Peas

Garden peas are generally available from spring through the beginning of winter. When purchasing garden peas, look for ones whose pods are firm, velvety, and smooth. Their color should be a medium green. Those whose green color is especially light or dark, or those that are yellow, whitish or are speckled with gray, should be avoided. Additionally, do not choose pods that are puffy, water soaked or have mildew residue. The pods should contain peas of sufficient number and size that there is not much empty room in the pod. You can tell this by gently shaking the pod and noticing whether there is a slight rattling sound.

Peas taste best when cooked as soon as possible after picking or purchasing.

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08 Jun Tips for Buying Fresh Onions

When buying onions, choose those that are heavy for their size with dry, papery skins, and that show no signs of spotting or moistness. Avoid onions that are soft or sprouting. Young onions are sweeter than old ones. They should have absolutely NO SMELL whatever. If they do, they are probably bruised somewhere under the skin and are on their way out.

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01 Jun Tips for Buying Fresh Green or String Beans

Green beans are available year round, with a peak season of May to October. Green beans are also called string beans and snap beans. Green beans were once called string beans. Today they are string less; just break off the end as you wash them. Leave whole or cut into desired lengths. Choose slender beans that are crisp, bright-colored, and free of blemishes.

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01 Jun Tips for Buying Fresh Carrots

When purchasing carrots, look for firm, plump carrots without rootlets. They should be small, bright orange and smooth, without cracks. Buy carrots in bunches, with their leafy green tops still attached. Carrots lose moisture through their leafy green tops, so if you purchase them this way, remove the tops before wrapping carrots in plastic and storing. Instead of throwing away the tops, which are full of nutrition, try adding them to soups or chopping them and adding to your salads.

Storing fresh carrots: Carrots keep will for weeks in the refrigerator, although you will sacrifice sweetness and flavor if stored too long.

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01 Jun Tips for Buying Fresh Beets

Many beets are sold in bunches with the tops still attached, while others are sold with the tops removed. Look for beets that are firm, round, with a slender tap root (the large main root), a rich, color, and smooth over most of the surface. If beets are bunched, you can judge their freshness fairly accurately by the condition of the tops. Badly wilted or decayed tops indicate a lack of freshness, but the roots may be satisfactory if they are firm.

Avoid elongated beets with round, scaly areas around the top surface — these will be tough, fibrous, and strong-flavored. Also avoid wilted, flabby beets — they have been exposed to the air too long.

As the beet greens are very nutritious, cook them as you would fresh spinach leaves.

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25 May Tips for Buying Fresh Tomatoes

  • Look- Don’t worry about tomatoes with weird shapes. Even cracked skin is okay, but leaking juice and soft spots are not.
  • Feel -Choose tomatoes that feel heavy for their size.
  • Smell -Tomatoes should smell earthy and tomato-y, never musty or flat

But above all never refrigerate tomatoes. Refrigeration will actually dull tomatoes’ flavor. Exposing a tomato to below 50 degrees may not allow sugars and acids to fully develop. Storing them at room temperature is ideal.

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25 May Tomato-Corn Pie

Tomatoes and corn have a natural affinity for one another: the slight acidity of tomatoes balances the sweetness of the corn. Here they partner in a delicious quiche-like pie. The dough is very forgiving and bakes up into a sturdy shell that’s great for just about any savory pie or tart. Perfect for a summer brunch or try it with a tossed salad for a light supper.

Makes: Makes 8 servings
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours


  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (see Note)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons cold water


  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 1 large ear; see Tip) or frozen
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup low-fat milk


1.  To prepare crust: Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, add oil and water and gradually stir them in to form soft dough. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

2.  Preheat oven to 400°F.

3.  Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan, preferably deep-dish, and press into the bottom and up the sides. Trim any overhanging crust. Line the dough with a piece of foil or parchment paper large enough to lift out easily; fill evenly with pie weights or dry beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil or paper and weights. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour.

4.  To prepare filling: Whisk eggs and milk in a medium bowl. Sprinkle half the cheese over the crust, and then layer half the tomatoes evenly over the cheese. Sprinkle with corn, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Layer the remaining tomatoes on top and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour the egg mixture over the top.

5.  Bake the pie until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.

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18 May Quinoa Primavera


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh peas
  • 1 cup shredded cooked chicken
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, woody ends discarded, spears cut into 1‐inch pieces
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves, sliced
  • 1/2 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon extra‐virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme (or 1/4 tsp dried)
  • 2 cups water (for deeper flavor substitute chicken stock, vegetable stock, or combo of white wine and stock)
  • 1 Lemon (juice and zest)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Shaved Parmesan or Pecorino to garnish (optional)


1.  Rinse quinoa under cold running water and drain. Combine water (or stock/wine, as you wish) and quinoa in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.

2.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until quinoa is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

4.  Add onion and asparagus. Cook, stirring often, until asparagus is tender and bright green, 5 to 7 minutes.

5.  Add garlic, thyme, peas and shitakes, continue cooking for another minute. Stir in chicken and cooked quinoa.

6.  Add the spinach and stir until it wilts, 1 to 2 minutes. Add lemon juice.

7.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with shaved cheese and lemon zest. Serve immediately. Serves 4

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11 May Tips for Grilling Vegetables

Cook vegetables over direct heat at medium-high temperature, and remember to turn about halfway through.

Start clean. Prevent sticking by beginning with a clean grill and well-oiled vegetables.
Don’t move. When you first place vegetables on the grates, resist the urge to shift them around until they’re nicely seared and lift off easily.
Manage the heat. Place the heartier vegetables, like onions and bell peppers, in the hottest spots on the grill. Keep more delicate produce such as tomatoes over places with less heat.

Summer Squash
How to Prep- Cut into 1/4-inch-thick lengthwise slices and brush with oil.
How to Grill- Cook until you see even grill marks, about 6 minutes. Squash should be pliable when bent with tongs, tender when pierced.

Bell Peppers
How to Prep-Cut into 2-inch-wide lengthwise slices and toss in oil.
How to Grill-Cook until charred in spots, about 10 minutes. Peppers should be moist, fragrant, pliable when bent with tongs, tender when pierced.

Plum Tomatoes
How to Prep-Cut in half lengthwise, remove seeds and toss with oil.
How to Grill-Cook until charred in spots, 4 to 5 minutes. Skin should have begun to peel back, and flesh should be soft.

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