South by Southwest and spring break are coming to Austin this weekend, and the city feels like it’s battening down the hatches before a storm. For some the upcoming week is an excuse to skip work and attend every showcase between now and next Sunday. Others prefer to hide out at home until the party’s over. In my mind, SXSW and spring break signal the beginnings of the steep descent into Texas summer.
We’re seeing some of the best spring crops of the season right now. The lettuce, chard, and spinach in this week’s Local Box are gorgeous, and the oranges from G&S are some of the sweetest that I’ve ever tasted. One note about those oranges– as we’re getting later into citrus season, some of the oranges coming out of the grove have a green tinge to them. Fully ripe oranges can sometimes turn green; it’s called “regreening” and it’s a natural process that can occur if there is ripe fruit on a tree at the same time that the tree is producing blossoms. When the tree produces chlorophyll to feed its blossoms, the mature fruit also receives some, which contributes a green tint to its skin. Oranges that have “regreened” tend to be extra-sweet because they’re tree-ripened. So, if you get a green orange in your Local Box, don’t fret! It’s an extra sweet treat, thanks to the sunshine we’ve been getting in south Texas.
Here’s what I’m making with the bounty:
Meal one: Grilled tilapia or chicken with fresh orange and tomato salsa, and a spinach salad on the side. That salsa recipe from Emeril Lagasse is a winner! The sweetness of the oranges really plays up spicy jalapenos, and the green flavors of cilantro and parsley. There’s just enough parsley in the bag from My Father’s Farm to use in this recipe, with a little to spare for garnishing other dishes throughout the week.
Meal two: The lettuce from bluebonnet hydroponics looks especially pretty this week, so I will likely serve the whole head along with a few chopped tomatoes and this avocado salad dressing for a light supper. Not too light, though, since we’ll be drinking Texas grapefruit margaritas with that salad.
Meal three: Combining the spinach and chard to make Spinach Stuffed Shells will be a nice way to knock out those greens without making another salad. It’s a wonderfully comforting dish that’s worth the effort of assembling the casserole. However, if you’re intimidated by piping in the filling, this recipe for crock pot lasagna has a similar flavor profile and it’s much easier to put together.
Meal four: It doesn’t get any easier than roasted rutabaga. We have the last of the sweet potatoes from Gundermann Acres in our pantry, so I will probably chop those up and cook them alongside the rutabaga. For the main dish, I’ll serve leftover stuffed shells or grilled cheese sandwiches.