Why pay $16 for smashed avo on toast when you can make it for less than half the price at home? Local avos are in season now – there are plenty at the farmers markets, and you’ll only pay about $2-$3 for one. Find them at Jumping Red Ant and The Organic Avocado. Serve with a slice of crusty local sourdough from Heart Bread or Crabbes Creek Woodfired.
Like all nuts, pecans are a super healthy snack. They’re high in protein, unsaturated fats, Omega 3’s and fibre, and are an excellent addition to vegetarian and vegan meals. They’re also perfect in sweet treats like pecan pie, brownies, biscuits and ice cream. To store, put in an airtight container in a cool place or freeze. Local pecans available from Glenyce Creighton, and The Spice Palace.
The Northern Rivers may be one of the biggest custard apple producing regions in Australia, but many locals are still a bit unsure about these weird looking fruit when they see them at the markets. Those who are familiar with them, however, will tell you how addictive they are. The soft, sweet and creamy texture of the fruit is delicious eaten as is, and even better in desserts. Chef Adam Liaw says he freezes his custard apples with some natural yoghurt and honey and then blends it in a food processor until smooth. You can also use the fruit as a topping for pancakes, add to smoothies or use it in a cheesecake. Custard apples are ripe and ready to eat when they start to soften – a ripe custard apple will have a similar amount of give as a ripe avocado when it’s ready. Find custard apples at Jumping Red Ant, Rancho Limes and Glenyce Creighton’s stall.
Add to soups and pies, saute as a side dish or add to scrambled eggs. Locally grown leeks are in season now and available from Everest Farms (New Brighton and Mullumbimby Farmers Markets).
Local are just coming into season, and will be at their sweetest and juiciest over the next few months, so now is the time to pick some up at the market and enjoy them. See Jane at Rancho Limes for the blood orange variety, which had a deep red flesh (due to the presence of anthocyanins, the same antioxidant pigments found in blueberries) and a raspberry like flavour.
At one stage kale was so trendy that it looked like it might even knock avocado off its perch. Eventually we hit peak kale, and the spotlight moved on to the next big thing, but with or without the hype, there’s no denying kale remains queen of the leafy greens. As with all fruit and veggies – and especially leafy greens – the fresher it is, the more nutrients it will contain, so locally grown kale that hasn’t been trucked half way across the state is your best bet for maximum nutrition. Kale is just coming into season locally and you’ll find it at the farmers markets throughout the winter months. There are several varieties, and each has a slightly different taste and texture, so it’s worth trying a few to find out what you prefer. Cavolo Nero is the deep green/blue variety with long slender rumpled leaves, and it works well in soups and stews like a classic cannelloni bean and kale soup or minestrone. Curly Kale is the type with the frilly edges, and is usually lighter in colour. It’s best for kale chips, in a salad, in green smoothies or in soups. Red Russian is the other variety of kale you’ll find at the markets – it’s sweeter and more tender and is nice raw in salads, sauteed with onion and garlic, or in pasta.
Red and green varieties are just coming into season now. Rich in Vitamin C, and the core ingredient in the current must-have condiment sauerkraut, cabbage has come a long way since the days it was boiled and served floppy and lifeless. The crunch of cabbage makes it ideal for salads – one of the simplest is to combine shredded red cabbage with julienned carrot and a handful of mint or other chopped fresh herb, or try it with shredded apple, local pecans and a creamy dressing. Cabbage is also excellent in stir-fries and fried rice and can be cut into wedges, drizzled with olive oil and roasted (with or without bacon). Available at Everest Farm.
Have you tried cauliflower rice yet? It’s become so popular as a low carb alternative to rice that one of the big supermarkets now sells it in a plastic microwaveable tray. Save money and the environment, buy a cauliflower and just do it yourself. To create your own cauliflower rice, cut into chunks and blitz in the food processor or use a grater. You can keep it in the fridge for a couple of days until your ready to use it or put it in the freezer. To cook, drizzle with olive oil, spread on at tray and roast for 10-15 minutes. Local cauliflower available now from Everest Farm.
Most of us are familiar with the golden/orange-fleshed sweet potato, but there are actually many varieties in an array of skin and flesh colours. White skin and purple flesh purple skin and white skin with white flesh. All make a great alternative to potatoes and are super healthy – packed with fibre, Vitamin A and C. Use them in essentially the same way as potatoes– as chips, mashed or baked. Sweet potato has also become a fashionable low carb alternative to toast – try cutting sweet potato length ways into 5mm slices, bake for 10-15 minutes and then top with chicken avocado, spinach and mayo. Sweet potatoes available from Jumping Red Ant and Morrow Farm.