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Fresh at the farmers’ market

The Winchester-Clark County Farmers’ Market is open for business. Broccoli was one of the many fresh produce items I found there last week.

Did you know broccoli has two growing seasons in Kentucky? Kentucky growers began harvesting their first crop in May and will continue to harvest through early July. The second season ends with a harvest in late fall.

You can steam, boil or microwave broccoli or enjoy it raw. It gives a flavorful and healthy twist to many popular summer dishes.

Broccoli is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables that you can eat. It is a good source of vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, folic acid and phytochemicals. Research shows that if you consume several servings of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts through the week you can reduce your risk of developing some forms of cancer as well as heart disease.

Whether shopping at our farmers’ market or the local grocery, choose broccoli that has tender, young and dark-green stalks with tightly-closed buds. Broccoli should be stored unwashed in the refrigerator for no more than three to five days in a perforated plastic bag. Wash just before preparing to maintain its texture and prevent mold from forming.

Contact the Clark County Extension Office at 744-4682 for more ways to prepare in-season produce or visit us on the web at http://ces.ca.uky/edu/clark.

You will want to add this recipe to your family favorites, too.

Broccoli Grape Pasta Salad

— 3/4 cup diced pecans

— 8 ounces whole grain pasta

— 5 slices turkey bacon

— 2 cups seedless red grapes

— 1 pound fresh broccoli

— 3/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise

— 1/4 cup honey

— 1/3 cup diced red onion

— 1/3 cup wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan for five to seven minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring halfway through.

Prepare 8 ounces of pasta according to package directions.

Cook bacon according to package directions. Cool and crumble into small pieces.

Cut the broccoli florets from the stalk and separate into small pieces.

Slice 2 cups of grapes into halves.

Whisk together mayonnaise, honey, diced red onion and vinegar in a large mixing bowl.

Add broccoli, cooked pasta and grapes; stir to coat. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Stir in bacon crumbles and diced pecans, just before serving.

Yield: 16, 1/2-cup servings.

Nutritional analysis: 160 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 125 mg sodium, 24 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 4 g protein.

Jennifer Howard is the Clark County Extension Agent for family and consumer sciences.