This is the first post by my “virtual intern” Rose M. Kaplan. Read more about Rose below.
I’ve noticed these days that people are so engrossed with looks and appearances that they fail to see all the beautiful things in life that are hiding right in front of them. Looks aren’t everything, and this is especially true when it comes to produce. Produce is not always perfect. Actually, sometimes the most imperfect looking tomato can be the hidden gem you’ve been seeking. A zucchini may have a tiny blemish on one part of it, and some of the best tomatoes may come in the most abnormal shapes and sizes you’ve ever encountered, but sometimes, these vegetables may be the most flavorful you can find.
A tiny little bruise on a tomato could come from transportation to your local grocery or farmers market, or it may be imperfect due to being organically grown without herbicides and pesticides. This doesn’t make it a bad tomato, just a different one. Now you may be wondering, are all bruised fruits and vegetables okay to consume? Not necessarily.
If half the tomato is bruised and mushy, it’s probably over-ripened and not the best to eat. Here is my rule of thumb: if there is a small blemish, not so big that it covers half the tomato, but small enough that you could easily cut it off, then it is okay. Sometimes produce appears to be “less-than-perfect” however, it may be the juiciest apple, sweetest tomato, or most flavorful zucchini you’ve ever eaten. People always say not to judge a book by it’s cover, right?
When cooking with your less beautiful produce, I like to create things like soups, sauces, stuffing, or stir-fry. These are my “4 S’s.” These dishes are less dependent on appearance and are still full of flavor. The “4 S’s” allow you to enjoy every ounce of amazing flavor the produce has to offer, but appearance will not matter. Try making a simple tomato sauce, soup, or gazpacho with your tomatoes, or an apple pie with those apples. Chop up your “less than perfect” zucchini and use it in a filling for a stuffed pepper, or mix it up in a stir fry. The options are endless. Just because produce doesn’t always look pretty, does not mean it can’t taste delicious. So what are you waiting for? Get cooking!