A Fresh Veg Blog

Focus on Fall

by Loree Dowse | October 2016

 

manns-taco-tailgate

Mann’s Taco Tailgate

It’s officially Fall, and we here at Mann’s are celebrating everything about this fabulous season EXCEPT pumpkin spice. We’re doing taco truck tailgates. We’ve pulled out our boots (well, most of the guys around here wear field boots year round, but that’s beside the point). And we’re eating all of those amazing vegetables that are perfect roasted, braised, and soupified.

Lucky for us, we have a whole stable of hearty Brassicas, root vegetables and squash to play with: Brussels, broccoli, beets, kohlrabi, cauliflower, kale and sweet potatoes. Don’t get me wrong, all of these veggies are fantastic year round, but there’s just something magical about autumn menus that begs for lusty, rich flavors and comfort cooking. Or maybe it’s just our prehistoric programming that makes us crave rich foods in order to fatten up and survive the winter. Either way, we’re embracing soups, stews and one-pot deliciousness.

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Mann’s CEO Lorri Koster and EVP Rick Russo check out a bin of sweet potatoes at California Fresh Farms, a Mann’s affiliate in Delhi, CA

All of our sweet potatoes, butternut squash and beets come out of our California Fresh Farms affiliate in Delhi, California. The 14,000 square foot facility is operated by Jeff Ramsey, son of one of Mann Packing’s original partners, Bill Ramsey.

Several large warehouses on the property are used to store the vegetables in a climate-controlled environment until they’re ready to be processed. Butternut squash can hang out happily in a bin for up to 4 months, while sweet potatoes can last a whopping 12 months.

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A Cal Fresh employee shows how the butternut squash are peeled

Almost 6 million pounds of veggies make their way into the Cal Fresh plant per year, where they are peeled, cut into cubes, ribbons, or crinkle fries, then washed, dried, packed and shipped. High potassium, beta carotene, fiber and great taste aside, the sweet potatoes, squash and beets coming out of Cal Fresh are ideal examples of what we here at Mann’s do so well: fresh vegetables made easy.

Mann, that’s easy. Did I just type that? You bet I did.

 Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Mann’s Sweet Potato Cubes
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 lb ground beef or ground turkey
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 15-oz cans black beans, drained
  • 1 cup vegetable stock, plus more if necessary

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss sweet potato cubes with olive oil and salt. Roast in a single layer on a sheet tray for 25 minutes, or until potatoes have caramelized slightly. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, onion and celery and sauté for 5-6 minutes. Add ground beef or turkey and cook through, draining excess fat if necessary. Add garlic and dry spices, stirring for 1 minute until fragrant. Add tomatoes, black beans, roasted sweet potatoes and stock. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes.

Serve with sliced avocado, grated cheddar cheese, and sour cream.

Serves 10

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