Produce report April 22
The best fruit and vegetable buys of the week, in partnership with New World.
Fresh in: Pumpkins and squash have been great buying this autumn, bright orange and sweet. Little gems, grapefruit-sized squash, have joined the fray and, like their bigger relatives, are great roasted – allow for one-two each, halve across the equator, remove the seeds and stuff them. Remember pumpkins love sage, marjoram and thyme and spices: chilli, ginger and garam masala. “Local satsuma mandarins have also just arrived” says New World Fresh Expert Brigit Corson “they’re seedless and easy to peel, so a great choice for the lunch box”.
Look for: “Leeks are excellent buying at the moment” says Brigit. 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. Look out too for trays of Indian pomegranate arils in New World stores to strew over sweet and savoury salads.
Try it in: “Make the most of our New Zealand-grown limes” says Brigit “they’re bigger than imported varieties and good buying at New World”. Now that limes are plentiful again, it’s time to look at recipes that call for more than just one or two. A batch of lime pickle fits the bill nicely. Bottle it and use as an accompaniment to curries. Slightly yellow-looking fruit are perfect for this, a great way to use the excess limes on your tree. It’s chilli harvest time too and Annabel Langbein puts them to good use with lime zest in her chilli jam – it will keep for months and makes a punchier-than-bought addition to Thai salad dressings or dipping sauces.
Moving on: It’s time to make eggplant parm while the going is still good. Eggplants will be coming to the end of their local run soon and then the price will rise as imports take over. The kiwiberry and local rockmelon season is definitely over. Broccolini will be in shorter supply from May as supply tightens up through winter. “And look for Marlborough shallots – they’re in now and have a good long season to enjoy,” says Brigit.