Organic basil with roots
Most of us have had that experience of opening the refrigerator to find a forgotten bag of fresh basil that had turned black and slimy, sometimes even after just a few days.
Thankfully both Roots Farm and The Garden Of… have their seasonal offerings of their fresh basil, pulled from the ground with the roots still intact. Instead of going into the refrigerator, it can instead be placed in a large Mason jar or a flower vase and placed on the countertop to then be harvested as needed in the kitchen.
Aesthetically pleasing and filling your kitchen with the sweet refreshing aroma of basil, this is a fun local find you will likely only encounter at the farmers market. You can find organically grown basil with the roots at the weekly Saturday Santa Barbara, Tuesday Santa Barbara and Wednesday Solvang farmers markets.
Use basil in a pesto (Roots Farm owner Jacob Grant recommends using cashews instead of pine nuts) or in a pasta sauce of a refreshing farmers market gazpacho, as in this week’s Fix on A6. Price averages $2.50 per bunch.
Tomatillos are the heart of any salsa verde you have likely enjoyed at your favorite Mexican restaurant. This member of the nightshade family is being actively harvested by several local farmers, including Mike Iniguez of Ebby’s Organic Farm of Goleta.
Also known as a “Mexican husk tomato,” tomatillos are recognized by their round shape and papery skin that encases the fruit. The fruit ranges from lime green to yellow as it further matures on the vine. There are also some varieties that yield a purple hue as well.
Dice and simmer tomatillos with chicken or pork along with onions, garlic and cilantro, or prepare a raw salsa. When purchasing at the farmers market, make sure to ask the sellers what their favorite uses are. Tomatillos are currently available at all weekly Santa Barbara Certified Farmers markets. Price averages $3 per pound.
Red bell peppers
Sweet, crisp and absent of the majority of the bitter presence found in its green counterpart, bell peppers are excellent when enjoyed in both raw and cooked preparations.
Blister and remove the skin to puree into a sauce, top a salad or add to a sandwich. Enjoy the peppers in a stir-fry, rice dishes or kale salads, or stuff them with cooked rice, ground beef and veggies, before baking and serving as a meal. The peppers are rich in vitamins A, C and B-6, as well as a good source of potassium and dietary fiber.
Red bell peppers are currently available from several local farmers at all weekly Santa Barbara certified farmers’ markets. Certified organic are available. Price averages $3 per pound.