WHAT’S GROWING ON [DECEMBER ISSUE]

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I will be posting a monthly guide for what is in season based on information provided by  Louisiana Grown, a project of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that seeks to promote LA farmers through statewide branding.

Its hard to believe we’re already up to the final edition of “what’s growing on” for the year! I sat on the balcony this morning snacking on strawberries (!!!) and soaking up the sun in a tank top. I am digging Louisiana December so far. Even so, I was in the mood for warming comfort food tonight and whipped up some vegetarian sweet potato shepard’s pie. It is so tasty I have included the recipe at the bottom.

Anyways – what IS growing this month?

First off, I just can’t wrap by head around the fact that strawberries are in season. Admittedly the ones available right now are still a little bit white, but they will only be getting juicier over the coming months, culminating with the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival in April!

Taste the LA rainbow:

  • RED: strawberries, grapefruits, radishes (cherry bell & french breakfast).
  • ORANGE: satsumas, kumquats, navel oranges, mandarins, tangerines, and sweet potatoes.
  • YELLOW: lemons and meyer lemons.
  • GREEN: kale, collards, arugula, bok choy, tatsoi, mizuna, mustard greens, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, green tomatoes, green onions, mirlitons, quince, oregano, rosemary, cilantro, and pea shoots.
  • PURPLE: thai eggplant
  • WHITE: cabbage, ginger, mushrooms, turnips, and garlic.

Where to find all this beautiful produce:

And what to do…

Vegetarian Sweet Potato Shepard’s Pie 

I did some googling to find a recipe, but in the end nothing seemed that great so I just played around with what I had.

for the sweet potato mash:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese

for the lentils:

  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth

for the filling:

  • 1 cup sweet corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets (fresh or frozen)
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • pinch of turmeric
  • pinch of oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1″ chunks. Place in medium sized sauce pan and cover with water. Bring water to a rolling boil and cook until sweet potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork (about 10 minutes).
  3. Drain sweet potatoes and add coconut oil and yogurt. Mash with a fork until smooth.
  4. Add garlic, lentils, and vegetable broth to pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally. Cook until lentils are soft (about 15 minutes).
  5. If using frozen vegetables, defrost according to package directions. Mix together in bottom of baking dish and add seasonings.
  6. Spread layer of lentils over vegetables, followed by a layer of the sweet potato mash. Sprinkle with cheese and place in oven to cook for 25 minutes.
layers of comfort

layers of comfort

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2 comments

  1. Really? Strawberries in December? Why is it that the only time I miss the south is when I step into the kitchen? In other matters: Quinces are in? Who would have thought? I’ve been pushing them onto peoples plates for forty years and growing them for near thirty to make sure I have a supply – but it’s still tough to even give them away. And mirliton / chayote? I’d always thought that mirliton was the official name of what northern and western markets miss-termed chayote. Thanks for clearing that up. Now if only someone could breed one with flavor.

    1. Thanks for commenting Ben! I have yet experiment with quinces, but after learning that when cooked they have an aroma of pineapple, guava, pear and vanilla — I am hoping to poach a few for the holidays. How do you usually cook them?

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