How to Use All Your California Produce

How to Use All Your California Produce

Credit…Apu Gomes/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Good morning.

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Some news, in case you missed it: It’s Friday, the end of what has felt like an extraordinarily long week.

It’s probably hot where you are, and the state issued guidance for reopening cooling centers.

You may be planning to venture to a restaurant, if that’s an option in your county. But you may also be wary, especially as some counties that moved to reopen businesses more quickly have pulled back amid rising case numbers.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, nevertheless, has said that guidelines for reopening gyms are on their way next week.

And officials in both San Francisco and hard-hit Los Angeles announced more specific timelines to lift restrictions in coming weeks.

[See every coronavirus case in California by county.]


Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

No matter where you live, we’re getting deeper into prime California produce time, and it’s likely you’re still eating at home more often than not.

So I asked my colleague Tejal Rao — who is The Times’s California restaurant critic, and has been writing about all the myriad ways the pandemic has reshaped the way we eat — for some quarantine recipe recommendations for Californians.

Here’s her dispatch:

Greetings from Los Angeles, where I’m at home in Cypress Park, cooking my way through the farm box I get every Saturday. This week was all about green garlic, agretti, snake cucumbers, zucchini blossoms, kale, spicy turnips and carrots.

[Read more about the rise of community-supported agriculture in the pandemic.]

My goal isn’t to make anything too ambitious or fancy, it’s just to feed myself and my partner as well as I can. Cooking almost every meal, every single day, is a challenge, but I also try to approach it as a game of wits — how do I use up everything, I mean, every single thing? In what combinations? In what sequence? And how can I cleverly repurpose my leftovers?

The first time I got a bunch of agretti, I had to consult my fellow cooks on Instagram for advice. I’d never cooked the feathery succulent before, only eaten it in restaurants. Turns out, there was no need for a recipe: I sautéed it in olive oil with some green garlic, and had it as a side with a spatchcocked roast chicken from Marin Sun Farms. And the leftover sautéed agretti made a perfect omelet mix-in the next day.

When I get overwhelmed by greens, I make kale sauce, using up whatever greens and wilty herbs I’ve got lying around. And last night, I worked my way out of a carrot glut by making kosambari — a ridiculously quick and delicious salad from Karnataka — using a mix of multicolored carrots from County Line Harvest, grated on a box grater, along with the frozen grated coconut I keep in the freezer.

[Read a conversation with David Mas Masumoto, a peach farmer, about why small farms may be better positioned to thrive after the pandemic.]

If I’ve got extra onions or shallots lying around, it’s always good to pickle them. A jar of bright, sweet and salty pickled onion in the fridge means I can throw together Scarlett’s tuna salad with salted cucumbers, ripe avocado and canned tuna in just a few minutes, or season a bowl of baked red beans in spicy tomato sauce, my take on rajma.

Tomatoes are on their way in Los Angeles, and B.L.T. season is almost here. I love Yewande’s agege, a soft, sweet Nigerian bread. Make it now and keep it sliced in the freezer, then pull out pieces to toast as you need them.

[Here are more of Tejal’s excellent recommendations for what to eat, watch and read.]

Want more recipe ideas?

If for some reason you’re not subscribed to our free Cooking newsletter, you can do that here.

And tell us about what kinds of produce you’re cooking with these days. Need ideas? Email us at and we’ll ask Tejal to share her thoughts.

We often link to sites that limit access for nonsubscribers. We appreciate your reading Times coverage, but we also encourage you to support local news if you can.


Credit…Gregory Bull/Associated Press
  • Some Indian casinos opened their doors to gamblers last week, in spite of health concerns. The debate over whether they should reopen highlighted the complications of reopening, particularly given tribal sovereignty. [The New York Times]

  • Pacific Gas & Electric cleared its last major hurdle to emerging from bankruptcy on Thursday, when state regulators approved the utility’s plan. [The New York Times]

  • Masked students, lunch at desks, classes outside: Los Angeles County’s school-reopening framework offers a peek into what could be ahead for schools across the state. [EdSource]

  • If you missed it, state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle criticized Governor Newsom’s proposed budget, saying it relied too heavily on money from the federal government to prevent huge cuts. [CalMatters]

  • The California Supreme Court ruled that public agencies can’t require fees to redact police body camera footage before releasing it under public records requests. [The Sacramento Bee]

  • Almost a third of people hospitalized with Covid-19 in Riverside County are from Imperial County, highlighting troubling case increases in the region. [The Desert Sun]

  • Sonoma County’s sheriff said his deputies would no longer enforce the county’s stay-at-home order. [The Press Democrat]

  • Officially sanctioned homeless tent encampments are sparking battles in San Francisco. Here’s a look at life inside one of them. [The Guardian]

  • “I had to do something.” Black barbers and hair stylists in Los Angeles have taken their work underground while barber shops and salons are closed. [The Los Angeles Times]

  • Even after President Trump issued an executive order to curtail legal protections for social media companies from liability for the content on their sites, Twitter continued to add fact-checking labels to hundreds of tweets. [The New York Times]

  • A doctor in Walnut Creek said his hospital had seen a spike in suicide attempts since the lockdowns started. Fox News and other right-wing media repeated the claim to support reopening. But the doctor later admitted there was no data to back it up. [BuzzFeed News]

  • Last year, for the first time in more than 130 years, the U.S. consumed more renewable energy than coal. It’s an inflection point that reflects a steep drop in the use of coal, but also points to growing wind and solar power. [The Wall Street Journal]

  • Good news for beach bums: You’ll be able to lounge and participate in other “passive” beach activities again in San Diego County starting on Tuesday. [The San Diego Union-Tribune]

  • Planning to go camping? It’s potentially doable. (Like everything these days, though, it depends on where you want to go.) [The New York Times]

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to school at U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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