It feels like winter just started, but growing regions are experiencing milder temperatures this week, and the quality of fresh fruit and vegetables arriving at your local fruit and veg shop, as we begin the transition to spring is outstanding!
Queensland strawberries are in great supply at the moment. Big, juicy, sweet, and just plain delicious – they’re magnificent! Remember to always store fresh strawberries in the fridge and wash them just before use. Raspberries are short and priced at a premium, while prices are easing for blueberries due to increased supply.
Sweet-eating pawpaw from Innisfail is plentiful and represents good value. You can enjoy pawpaw fresh with other fruits in a fruit salad; or use it in cakes, puddings, parfaits, relish, or chutneys. Mandarins, oranges, lemons, and limes all continue to offer terrific value. Rockmelons are short, and there’s mixed quality in watermelons right now, so make sure to check for ripeness when you buy – a whole watermelon should have a splotch on the belly and give a hollow sound when tapped; cut watermelon should have solid flesh with a uniform crimson-red colour.
Strong volumes of crispy apples and pears continue to arrive at your local fruit and veg shop from Victoria; they’re high in quality and cheaper than what they were this time last year. Other great value buys include pineapple, mangoes, and bananas.
If you’re keen to find locally-grown vegetables for this week’s menu, there are plenty of great options including eggplants, zucchini, beetroot, celery, and green beans. Capsicums are looking particularly good this week, with red being the sweetest for snacking and salads; the green ones for adding a hint of bitterness to your stir-fry and baking; and yellow capsicums adding a fruity flavour ideal for pasta salads.
Cauliflower from the Lockyer Valley and broccoli from Gatton is in heavy supply and represents excellent quality. Both these versatile veggies make great additions to quiche, stir-fry, soup, or as a side with a classic roast. Supplies of corn and cucumber are improving, although mushrooms are still dearer. Carrots, tomatoes, and rocket are running low in supply.
New-season Australian-grown asparagus hitting the shelves is a clear indication that spring is just around the corner – select asparagus with firm stalks with tightly closed tips. With a plentiful supply of lettuce from Gatton, try lettuce cups and BLT wraps, or even layered salads – that’s like a salad trifle, with different salad ingredients stacked up on each other. For value and quality, we can’t go past sweet potatoes and pumpkins. Try them in soups, baked as wedges, or mashed and served with grilled salmon. Other seasonal well-supplied vegetables include fennel, leeks, parsnips, potatoes, and Brussels sprouts.
This week’s top pick is snow peas from Bundaberg. This pea variety has flat pods with small peas inside. Crunchy, tender, and naturally sweet, snow peas can be eaten raw or cooked to be added in salads, stir-fry, and casseroles. Choose snow peas that are roughly three inches long, bright green in colour, and have a firm and smooth skin. Store them in an airtight bag in the crisper section of the fridge. For a quick and easy side dish, sauté snow peas in olive oil with garlic and pine nuts, stirring for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with sesame seeds and chopped mint leaves.
Report Supplied by Brismark