Produce report: July 18
Short supplies and high prices have made new season hass avocados taste even better. Now prices have fallen at last, the quality is looking good and we’re relishing having them back on our breakfast toast and adding them with chicken to a salad for lunch.
Ripen avocados at room temperature then store them in the fridge. Choose hass according to colour — bright green are unripe, olive green will be ripe in two or three days and brown/green ones, firm ripe. Brownish-purple? It’s guacamole only.
While we’re talking chicken salad, why not also pick up a bunch of celery, one of the week’s best buys, and make a classic waldorf salad (see Amanda Laird's recipe from Viva below). Shred some cooked chicken into the waldorf for added protein. It will hold up well until lunchtime.
With onion and carrot, celery forms the French mirepoix — finely chopped vegetables, sauteed in butter, that make a base for everything from soups to casseroles. Celery is well respected in Cajun cooking, too, as part of the Holy Trinity (with onion and green capsicum), the base for jambalaya and gumbo.
Celery is an excellent source of antioxidants, magnesium and potassium, also vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin B6.
Remove it from the bag it came in and store in a paper towel-lined ziplock plastic bag in the fridge. We cut our whole celery bunch in half to ensure it fits. It should keep for a few weeks. However if it’s nutrients as well as crispness you are after then celery is best eaten in a week. And don’t forget the leaves. The soft inner ones are a delightfully savoury herb to add to cooked dishes, salads and stir-fries.
Look for reasonably priced leeks in store this week. You might be lucky enough to find bunches of baby leeks too. Clean, top and tail them and braise them whole: coat with melted butter (and olive oil if you wish) in a pan, but do not brown, then cover with chicken stock. Cook until very tender, about 20 minutes. Or try them in the filling for Celia Hay’s spinach and baby leek crepes.
Ring the changes in winter menus with plentiful yams and beetroot. Rich in antioxidants and minerals such as vitamin C, beetroot helps lower blood pressure so is very heart-friendly. It is also a great detoxifier for the liver.
It’s time to get your fill of tamarillos which are hitting their peak now and probably as cheap as they are ever going to be. Fruit buys of the week are navel oranges from Kerikeri and Gisborne, and imported mangoes.
Salad: 1 green and 1 red apple, juice of ½ lemon, 1 cup sliced celery, ½ cup toasted walnuts, ¼ cup mayonnaise
Mayonnaise: 1 egg, ½ tsp dried mustard, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp caster sugar, ¼ cup white wine vinegar, ½ cup olive oil
- Core and slice both apples. Pour over the lemon juice and chill.
- To make the mayo: put the egg, mustard, salt, sugar and vinegar in a food processor and blend. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil, in a steady stream, until mayo has thickened.
- Combine the apples with the celery, walnuts and mayonnaise.