Black coco beans
This is one of my favorite varieties of black beans, available weekly from Two Peas in a Pod Farm at the Saturday Santa Barbara farmers’ market.
Much larger than your standard black bean, they have a rounded oval shape and a shiny exterior. The bean delivers a nice balance of firm yet soft texture once cooked and is quite flavorful.
This week I incorporated this variety into a Coco Black Bean Chili as the Fix of the Week on B2. This nutrient-, fiber- and protein-packed food source is ideal for incorporating into your weekly diets.
Black Coco beans are thought to be native to 19th-century France. Price averages $10 per pound.
Also known as Chinese mustard greens, there are more than 50 varieties of this green, which vary in appearance and flavor.
This particular specimen that I picked up from Her Family Farm at the Saturday Santa Barbara farmers’ market has a peppery flavor that is reminiscent of the mustard green family with notes of wasabi throughout.
The central stem portion was quite crisp, while the leaves toward the top were softer. This green is often incorporated into a salad when harvested in its younger stage.
It is also commonly used as a braising green, or sautéed. This green pairs quite well with Asian-inspired ingredients such as ginger, garlic and cilantro, as well as richly flavored meats such as pork and chicken. I also enjoy green pairing with apples, delivering a nice sweet and spicy combination. Price averages $2 per bunch.
Organic bloomsdale spinach
This variety — which is available from Roots Farm and The Garden Of…, both in Los Olivos — is recognized by its large deep green leaves and thick stems with a pinkish hue toward the base where the spinach is connected.
While this variety is nice in raw preparations, it is my absolute favorite for quickly wilting in the pan and being lightly seasoned and enjoyed on the plate with roasted potatoes and a nice grilled steak.
An excellent source of antioxidants, spinach delivers four times the beta carotene of broccoli. It is also a rich source of lutein and contains protein, fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and folic acid. Spinach provides a higher level of nutrients when consumed either raw or just slightly cooked.
Organic bloomsdale spinach is available at the Saturday Santa Barbara, Tuesday Santa Barbara and Wednesday Solvang farmers/ markets. Certified organic is available. Price averages $5 per half-pound bag.