Featured Recipe: Green Beans, Roasted Fennel and Shallots
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 large fresh fennel bulbs, green stalks removed, ends trimmed (reserve a few feathery fronds for garnish)
3/4 pound shallots or yellow onion, peeled, halved through root end
5 tablespoons olive or coconut oil, divided
1 pound green beans, trimmed
Preheat oven to 450°F. Spray rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Cut fennel bulbs lengthwise in half and then in half lengthwise again (you want them to be approx. ½ inch wide wedges, and leave some core attached to hold them together). Combine fennel and shallots or onions in large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons oil; toss to coat. Arrange veggies in single layer on prepared sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and golden, stirring every 10 minutes, about 35 minutes.
Cook green beans in large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente, about 3 minutes. Drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again (this stops the cooking, so they stay crisp-tender). Pat dry. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add roasted vegetables and beans; toss until heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, top with a dash of the fennel fronds, minced first. Transfer to bowl and serve.
“Stonefruit” refers to members of the genus Prunus, which includes peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots, cherries, and apricots. The season for summer stonefruit is short-lived, and delicious! With the fruit coming and going so quickly, we don’t want you to miss out by having to toss spoiled or improperly ripened fruit. Here’s some tips for proper storage so you can make the most of these short-season gems.
Care: Store unwashed fruit at room temperature until ripe (usually only 1-2 days), then place in sealed container in the fridge.
Ripeness: Gently press around stem and when flesh gives slightly to pressure fruit is ripe. Stonefruit ripens from the inside to the outside, so if fruit is soft all over it is more likely overripe.
Tips for Preventing Spoilage: Stonefruit’s biggest enemy while ripening is moisture coupled with lack of airflow. Set ripening stonefruit on a cloth or paper-covered countertop or in a place where it gets plenty of airflow. Try setting them stem side down to ripen. This lessens the chance of then rolling and bruising. Once your stonefruit is ripe, it deteriorates very quickly. Within a day of being fully ripe, if left out of refrigeration, you can have overripe/spoiled fruit and some very attracted fruit flies. Check daily and place in refrigerator as soon as you notice the stem area has begun to soften. Take special care when handling your stonefruit—never squeeze to check for ripeness! Even a small bruise will be cause enough to turn into a rot/bruised spot on your fruit as it is still ripening. Check for ripeness by gently pressing around the stem area. It should yield to light pressure.
Use: Once fruit is ripe, and you’ve placed in the refrigerator, plan to use within a day or two (this gives you a total keeping time of about 4-5 days). Stonefruit is refreshing as a healthy breakfast paired with yogurt or hot/cold cereal, as a topping to a green salad, and as an ingredient in fruit salads. For grilling, or for topping green salads: use slightly less ripe fruit, it will hold up better without breaking apart/juicing. Stonefruit also bakes up fabulously into crisps, pies, and sauces!
Normally fennel tastes like a cross between celery, cabbage, and licorice. Roasting, however, brings out an entirely new flavor – as if pine nuts decided to join the party. And if you enjoy raw fennel, I recommend roasting some just for the fun of it. To do so, see recipe below. Known for its crunchy texture and mild anise flavor, fennel is best used within 5 days. Keep fennel bulbs wrapped in the fridge to keep out air that will lessen its flavor. Fennel is wonderful braised, roasted, or grilled where its it brings flavor reminiscent of pine nuts to the table, or, sautéed, or used raw in salads, where it is crunchy and sweet.