Produce report: April 10
Feijoas and pears (buerre bosc and honey belle) are our fruit buys of the week – sweet, plentiful and affordable, they are poised to star in long weekend crumbles (we’re counting on some cooler weather to make them even more appealing). Because they really love chocolate, pears are also our number one pick for Easter baking and desserts. Check out the magic of the choc/pear combo for yourself in the recipes below from bite.co.nz.
Nashi (the Japanese word for pears) are in store until about June or July. Their crisp but sweet flesh makes a refreshing salsa to accompany a Southeast Asian meal when cut finely and tossed with a little chilli, finely chopped red onion, fish sauce and generous amounts of lime juice. (Luckily limes are becoming cheaper by the week as the season progresses.) Nashi are picked ripe so store them in the fridge and be careful with them – they bruise easily. Because of their high water content, the raw fruit does not freeze well but they do juice very well (and they contain a pleasing amount of vitamin C).
Still thinking Asian, look out for persimmons which also hail originally from Japan. They will become more abundant by May but will be gone again by July. Most persimmons in New Zealand are the non-astringent Fuyu variety which are eaten when firm. They can also be used in baking but are a delight, sliced, on a cheeseboard. In contrast, the astringent type of persimmon is inedible when hard and must be kept until very ripe, at which stage the flesh will be a jelly which needs to be eaten with a spoon. Harder to come by these days, you may be able to find some at farmers’ markets or in old established gardens. Store persimmons at room temperature. Look for bright orange, evenly coloured fruit. They are are a good source of beta-carotene and vitamins A and C, along with potassium and fibre.
New season green and gold kiwifruit are filling supermarket produce bins now.
Vegetable buys of the week include brussels sprouts and squash – buttercups, butternuts, spaghetti squash and gems. Allow for a gem or two per person. These tough-skinned, grapefruit-sized babies are high in vitamin A and are quick to roast in the oven or microwave. Halve across the equator and stuff them after the seeds have been removed.
Leeks are another of the week’s good buys. To prepare them, cut off the root and the dark green tops (you may need to peel away the outer layer too), slice them in half lengthways and wash under running water through the layers to remove any grit. Leeks are great braised slowly. Cut them into fairly thin slices and braise in butter (for about 20 minutes) to unleash the sweetness. Keep the heat low and do not brown. Alternatively, halve lengthways but do not slice and braise in butter, chicken stock and thyme until the leeks are tender and the liquid has become a glaze. Chopped leeks are also good in potato gratins and soups when the weather calls for something hearty.
Unfortunately weather woes have affected supplies of baby spinach and wild rocket so these may be harder to come by where you live.
Pears and chocolate - a heavenly Easter combo
Slice pears into Kathy Paterson’s open fruit tart and serve with chocolate icecream.
Serve Kathy’s chocolate pear cake with chocolate sauce after Easter Sunday lunch.
Whip up a batch of these speedy dark chocolate and pear friands from Amanda Laird. They’re perfect treats to take away for the long weekend.