Watermelon and feta salad with arugula and spinach

Watermelon and feta salad with arugula and spinach

We can’t say enough about this fabulous, diet-friendly and delicious summer salad from allrecipes.com. Just because the calendar reads September doesn’t mean you can’t continue to enjoy the flavors of summer. Now, in fact, is the best time to pick up freshly harvested, organically grown watermelons and arugula at Colchester Neighborhood Farm.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Whisk the olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, and salt together in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. Combine the arugula, spinach, onions, and tomatoes in a large salad bowl. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad mixture; toss to coat. Add the feta cheese and watermelon to serve.

 

 

Mouthwatering Watermelon

Mouthwatering Watermelon

Watermelon is as integral a part of the summer experience as building sandcastles at the beach or catching fireflies on a warm evening. Easily filling the role of dessert, it is as tasty as it is fun to eat. Even as adults, we love the flavor of this melon, whether it is paired with a cheese in a salad or used as the foundation for an adult beverage. Though August is now in the rear view mirror and the apple picking season is just around the corner, Colchester Neighborhood Farm continues to harvest this sweet summer vegetable…yes, I said vegetable, because technically, it is considered both a fruit and veggie. And here are few more fun facts to consider about this sweet summer staple.

According to the website, betweenusparents.com, Americans consume more watermelon than any other melon. Cantaloupe comes in second place and honeydew in third place.

A cousin to the cucumber, pumpkin, and squash family, watermelon is considered both fruit and vegetable. However, according to the website, livability.com, in 2007, the state of Oklahoma removed any ambivalence about how to categorize the gourd when it passed a bill declaring it a vegetable, and the official state vegetable, at that.

According to the website, thetowndish, early explorers used watermelons as canteens.

In China and Japan, watermelon is given as a hostess gift similar to our tradition of bringing flowers.

In Israel and Egypt, the sweet taste of watermelon is often paired with the salty taste of feta cheese.

Egyptian hieroglyphics indicate that the first-ever watermelon harvest took place roughly 5,000 years ago. The sweet fruit (vegetable) often was sealed into the tombs of kings because, really, who couldn’t use a snack in the afterlife.

An estimated 40,000 visitors check out the soaring 154-foot watermelon-shaped water tower each year in Lulling, Texas, home of the annual Watermelon Thump event, named for the sworn-by method of “rind-thumping” for checking a melon’s ripeness.

The seedless variety of watermelons was invented 50 years ago.

According to Guinness World Records, the world’s heaviest watermelon, weighing 268.8 lbs. (121.93 kg) was grown by Lloyd Bright of Arkadelphia, Arkansas in 2005.

It takes approximately 90 days to grow a watermelon….from planting to harvesting.

The United States ranks 5th in worldwide production of watermelon. Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and Arizona consistently are the leading producers.

Every part of the watermelon is edible, including the seeds and the rind. In fact, the first cookbook published in the U.S. in 1776 contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles.

Though the summer season and its harvest is winding down, the workers at Colchester Neighborhood Farm are still picking plenty of organically grown vegetables and fruits, including watermelon, which lets the taste of summer linger just a little longer.

Easy Cantaloupe Salsa

Easy Cantaloupe Salsa

There’s nothing better than using ingredients that are in season, unless, of course, you can purchase those ingredients at your local organic farm. Stop by Colchester Neighborhood Farm and pick up all of the ingredients to make this wonderful and Easy Cantaloupe Salsa tonight.

Ingredients

 4 cups bite-size chunks cantaloupe
2(14.5 ounce) cans diced petite-cut tomatoes or fresh tomatoes
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
4 jalapeno peppers, diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil, or to taste
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Mix cantaloupe, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, yellow bell pepper, jalapeno peppers, lemon juice, lime juice, and garlic together in a bowl. Add enough olive oil to moisten the salsa; season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until chilled and flavors have combined, 1 to 2 hours

This recipe comes from the website, allrecipes.com.

The Beauty of the Cantaloupe

The Beauty of the Cantaloupe

Can something this sweet, juicy, and tasty actually be good for your body and help promote younger looking skin? Some nutritionists are saying, “yes, it can.” If cantaloupe is not a staple item on your weekly grocery list, it just might become one after learning all of the health benefits of this fruit.  A relative of squash and cucumber, the cantaloupe is a member of the gourd family and is packed with an arsenal of artillery to battle everything from lung cancer and diabetes to macular degeneration. Now being harvested at Colchester Neighborhood Farm, there’s no better fruit to add to your grocery list than this muskmelon.  Read on for some more interesting and valuable information about the cantaloupe.

  • According to our friends at thehumblegardner.com, cantaloupe gets its name from the town of Cantalupo, Italy where seeds from Armenia were planted in the Papal Gardens in the 16th century.
  • An average sized cantaloupe packs an abundance of flavor and natural sweetness but contains just 100 calories.
  • Loaded with vitamin A and antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lutein, and other nutrients, cantaloupe may be your best defense against colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers.
  • According to the website, greatist, cantaloupe could be called the beauty fruit. The beta-carotene in its orange pulp converts to vitamin A, which helps promote healthy skin and may help protect against damaging and harmful UV rays. This dynamic melon may halso help to prevent wrinkles and premature aging of the skin.
  • And cantaloupe isn’t just for eating—it doubles as the perfect hair conditioner during the summer months. Use a fork to mash half a cup of cantaloupe, then massage into hair and leave for ten minutes after shampooing. http://greatist.com/health/superfood-cantaloupe
  • The best way to tell when a cantaloupe is ready for harvesting is when it has naturally slipped off of its vine.
  • To find the sweetest tasting melon, use your nose. The fruit should have a sweet, slightly musky scent. A good cantaloupe will feel heavy for its size, has a rind that resembles raised netting and a stem end will feel slight soft when you press your thumb into it.
  • When storing a cantaloupe, the melon can be left at room temperature for a few days, which helps in the ripening process. Once ripened, the melon will last for a week if kept cold. Cut melons, wrapped in plastic with the seeds left in, should be refrigerated but should be eaten in a few days.
  • According to the website, softschools.com, always wash cantaloupe before cutting into it. The surface of the melon is often covered with bacteria that can induce serious diseases in humans and that bacteria can be carried into the edible pulp when a knife slices through the melon.
  • Melons can be cut into halves, quarters, wedges, cubes, or scooped into balls with a melon baller. According to the website,bellybites, most melons will benefit from a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to enhance the flavor and served at room temperature.

Now at the height of  harvest season, there is no better time to head to Colchester Neighborhood Farm to pick up some organically grown cantaloupe. It’s as good on the taste buds as it is for the body.

Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo

This recipe for Pico de Gallo uses fresh ingredients that are being harvested at Colchester Neighborhood Farm. While Pico de Gallo is very similar to salsa, the biggest difference between these two dishes is that salsa recipes can vary, using a variety of fruits and vegetables, some that are fresh and some that are cooked. Pico de Gallo uses only fresh, uncooked ingredients and the ingredients are always the same. Serve this up along with tortilla chips and some Margaritas this weekend.

 

Pico de Gallo

1 Onion, finely chopped

1 lb Tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped

1 Green Pepper, seeded and finely chopped

2 or 3 Jalapeño Peppers, seeded and finely chopped

½ cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped

Juice of one Lime

Salt & Pepper to taste

 

Combine all ingredients and serve with tortilla chips or alternative. Use in wraps or in a salad with greens and avocado.

The sweet and spicey facts about peppers

The sweet and spicey facts about peppers

Given the vast array of varieties as well as their versatility, peppers just might be considered the little black dress of cooking….they go with almost anything.   From the mild green bell pepper to the sweet red bell  to the oh-so-very-hot haberneros, this multipurpose non-veggie is this week’s celebrated food item.  Yes, I said non-veggie.  According to the website, servingjoy.com, because peppers have seeds and come from flowering plants, they are actually a fruit. Though bell peppers come in an assortment of colors, including black, brown, and dark purple, they all come from the same plant. While green bell peppers are the most familiar, red, orange, and yellow bell peppers are merely the riper versions of the green pepper. Colchester Neighborhood Farm is currently harvesting a number of different peppers that will perk up the flavor in any recipe while providing a pop of color that will make the dish as beautiful to look at as it is delicious to eat. Here are some other fun facts about this member of the Capsicum family.

  • Despite the similarity in name, the bell pepper is not related to the plant that produces the popular kitchen condiment, black pepper.
  • Unlike other members of the Capsicum family, bell peppers do not contain capsaicin, the compound responsible for the spicier version of peppers.
  • As bell peppers mature, their sugar and nutritional content also increase. Although green peppers might be crunchier, you can make your dishes sweeter and healthier if you use the brighter-colored red bell pepper. In addition to providing more Vitamins A and C,  this version contain the antioxidant lycopene, a nutrient not found in the green bell pepper.
  • Move over orange juice…the bell pepper tops the list of foods with the highest levels of Vitamin C. A large red pepper provides more than 300% of your daily requirement of this essential vitamin and three times more vitamin C than an orange.
  • To get the most nutritional value from peppers, it is best to eat them raw, since heat decreases their nutritional levels. If you do cook them, do so for a short period of time.
  • Does the second bite of a chili pepper seem hotter than the first? That may be because you are getting closer to the stem. Some people believe the seeds are the spiciest part, but it’s actually the flesh near them that sets your tongue on fire. According to the website, mentalfloss.com, the part of the pepper closest to the stem is usually the hotter part because it has the highest concentration of capsaicin, which is responsible for causing irritation to the skin and that distinct burning pain on your tongue.
  • Although mammals react to that capsaicin in hot peppers, birds are completely immune to its effects. And because of this, birds are largely responsible for helping to spread while wild peppers, by eating them and excreting the seeds.
  • The measurement for determining and ranking the hotness level of a pepper is called the Scoville scale, named after pharmacist Wilbur Soville. Mild bell peppers fall within 1 to 100 SHU (Scoville Heat Units) while their hotter counterparts, such as cayenne fall at 30,000 to 50,000 SHU. The spiciest pepper known to man is called the Carolina Reaper…it measures 2.2 million SHU on the scale. That is one hot pepper!

Beyond providing color, flavor, and nutritional value to a recipe, some suggest that the heat in hot peppers increase metabolism thereby promoting weight loss. In recognition of this multi-talented fruit, we celebrate all peppers….both hot and sweet…. and encourage you to do the same by stopping in at Colchester Neighborhood Farm to purchase some freshly harvested, organically grown members of the Capsicum family.

Zucchini and Potato Bake

Zucchini and Potato Bake

We found this dish on the website allrecipes and while we like any recipe that calls for using vegetables that are in season, we especially liked this one since it uses three vegetables that are now being harvested at Colchester Neighbhorhood Farm. Our crews have been busy picking a vast array of vegetables and among them are peppers, summer squashes and potatoes. Though this recipe calls for red bell peppers, feel free to swap them out for purple beauties…they are just as sweet and tasty and add an unexpected pop of color.

Ingredients

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. In a medium baking pan, toss together the zucchini, potatoes, red bell pepper, garlic, bread crumbs, and olive oil. Season with paprika, salt, and pepper.
  3. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender and lightly brown.