What’s in Season

Unseasonably wet and cold temperatures are delaying local harvests longer than we’ve experienced in recent years. However, proper planning and years of experience have made many of our local fields strong, healthy, and ready for the summer sunshine.

Late June and July is the time when the transition from spring to summer harvests typically occurs. We can expect to see lettuce, beets, carrots, onions, and fennel. As the temperatures warm up, summer squash, zucchini, garlic, and broccoli will be in full force. Cherry tomatoes, basil, and possibly the season’s first cucumbers will follow during the middle to end of July.

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One seasonal veggie I’ve always enjoyed the taste of is fennel. Recently, I’ve been surprised to find out that not everyone enjoys it as much as I do. While my 5-year-old frequently requests sliced fennel in his lunchbox, I often hear others saying that they just don’t like it or know what to do with it. I’m here to say that if you’ve tried fennel before and didn’t like it, give it another shot using the recipe below. Who knows? You just might change your mind!

Fennel has a nice, crunchy texture and a light, refreshing taste that makes it a versatile side for a variety of meals, including fish, Mexican, and Italian dishes. High in vitamin C, fennel should be stored in the refrigerator crisper and eaten quickly, otherwise it will age and gradually lose its flavor. My favorite way to eat fennel is in a small salad, using simple ingredients that are complementary to its subtle licorice taste. One mistake often made when preparing fennel is cutting the fennel ribs too thick. When preparing fennel for a salad, always slice the bulb as thinly as possible.

~ Jen Ellermeyer is the CSA manager of Mountain Bounty Farm and a Truckee resident. Mountain Bounty Farm provides a year-round community supported agriculture program that delivers fresh, delicious, seasonal produce including veggies, fruits, and summer flowers weekly to your area. Info: (530) 292-3776, mountainbountyfarm.com

QUICK BITES | Early summer fennel salad with grapefruit and avocado

Serves 4 to 6

1 fennel bulb, saving the fronds for presentation

1 ruby grapefruit

1 avocado

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp apple cider

vinegar to taste

Optional: arugula,

red onion

Cut the fennel bulb in half and trim off the tip ribs. Take out the tough middle core of the bulb. Cut the bulb into quarters and slice into thin strips. Thin slices are key to making this salad delicious. Cut the top and bottom off the grapefruit and skin with a sharp paring knife. Remove the flesh and cut into 1-inch cubes. Cut the avocado into thick wedges or 1-inch cubes.’

Using a separate bowl, combine olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Toss the fennel, grapefruit, and avocado with two-thirds of the dressing.”

As an additional option, this salad can be placed over a small mound of greens such as arugula or other light-leafed lettuce, or add thinly sliced red onion. Drizzle with remaining dressing when plated and sprinkle the fennel fronds on top for presentation to give the salad a bit of elevation.

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