Farm Fresh Beets & Greens from Andreotti Farms in Half Moon Bay
This third-generation family farm cultivates exceptional, pesticide-free produce we’re honored to offer in our stores.
By Robbie Sigona
It’s not too often you find farmers who still pull all weeds by hand and hoe, but we’ve found another one. Terry & Dino Andreotti, along with their two children, Haley and Frank, and two additional employees, grow pesticide-free produce on the same 80 acres of land in Half Moon Bay that’s been in their family since 1926 – and they pull all weeds – over all the 80 acres – by hand and hoe.
I just love dealing with farmers like the Andreotti family – it’s family farms like theirs that make our store what it is today – plus, it makes my job fun!
Andreotti Farms, nestled next to the ocean on Kelly Avenue in Half Moon Bay, produces everything from beans they shell and dry, to yellow zucchini and parsley. I recently connected with Terry at the produce market and, after sampling her products, brokered a deal with her where we’ll receive fresh-picked golden beets, red beets, Chioggoa beets, Lacinato kale, and red and green chard as needed. The best part is that these products will be picked & delivered the same day. They’re fresh beets are not to miss – especially roasted with a little olive oil and vinegar.
“I told Robbie when we met that we’d be happy to grow any produce for Sigona’s that they may want for their customers,” said Terry. “I’m familiar with Sigona’s and its reputation as a business that supports the small, local farmers. Without markets like theirs we couldn’t survive, so I’m glad to be working with them.”
Terry, a third-generation farmer, uses only all natural fertilizer on the farm. To keep the farm free of pesticide sprays, they rotate crops each year and plant rows of other plants, such as cilantro, which attract the “good” bugs that eat the “bad” bugs. Terry says they plan to have 20 acres of land certified organic next year. In addition to the greens and beets we’re getting from Andreotti Farms now, we’ve also requested they grow broccoli, cauliflower, anise and some leaf lettuce for our stores – all of which will be available soon.
The produce from Andreotti Farms is truly exceptional. Here are a few details about the greens and beets we have now – oh! did I mention the bunches are huge? Andreotti Farms knows how to pack right.
Lacinato kale, sometimes known as Dinosaur or Tuscan kale, has dark greenish-blue leaves with bumpy texture makes it easily identifiable compared to other smoother kale varieties. The leaves of Lacinato kale are easy to strip from the thick, white stalks and their cabbage-like earthy flavor is great in soups or even raw in salads. Kale, as with all dark, leafy greens, is packed with nutrients, phytonutrients and vitamins, such as vitamins K, C and A, which can help maintain healthy teeth and bones. Sicilians and Italians alike are particularly fond of this variety of kale – you’ll often see it featured in recipes along with cannellini beans and ham – a classic Italian comfort dish.
Chard, with its green, ruffled leaves and thick, edible stems, has an intense earthy-spinach flavor. There are a few different varieties of chard, with the only difference among them being the color of the crisp stems – some are white, some are red and some are yellow. Some sources say red chard is slightly sweeter than green chard (more commonly known as Swiss chard). Just as kale is packed with nutritional benefits, chard is also loaded with vitamins A, C and K. It also contains phytonutrients, which, among their many benefits, can help stabilize blood sugar. Chard lends itself to a number of dishes and cooking techniques, such as braising, boiling or blanching. Plus, the stems add a nice crunch to soups or pasta dishes.
Beets. Some of us are familiar only with the canned red beets standard in salad bars – if that’s your only encounter with beets, we ask you to give fresh beets a try. Fresh beets are hard to…well…beat. This root vegetable has the highest sugar content of any vegetable and when roasted, their flavor becomes even more concentrated and works well with both sweet and savory ingredients.
Beets, which are related to chard as part of the Chenopodiaceae family, are also an excellent source of phytonutrients, which offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification benefits. We have three types of beets coming from Andreotti Farms: the golden beet, the Chioggoa beet and the red beet (see below for what makes them unique). Their leafy green tops are also edible and can be used similar to how you may use chard or kale. Beet greens contain high amounts of vitamin C, iron, calcium and beta-carotene, which is converted in the body to vitamin A and is an antioxidant.
Red beets: The red beet is as common as it is messy. They have a strong, sweet and earthy flavor and their red pigment, called betalin, is known to stain clothes and counter tops. However, their flavor and benefits are absolutely worth the mess. Betalin pigments have been recommended for detoxification of the body as they help processes and flush out toxins. Roasted red beets pair particularly well with goat cheese in a salad using the beet greens as a base.
Golden beets: Though their outer layer is orange, the inside is a golden-yellow color. The Golden beet has a milder flavor than the red beet, and its greens are sweet and flavorful. Traditionally, a Borscht (a beet-based soup) is made from red beets, but imagine the dish made with lovely, mildly sweet gold beets. Add on a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of parsley and you’ve got a nice and warm winter soup.
Chioggia beets: This beet, which originated in Chioggia, Italy, is sometimes called the candy stripe beet simply because of its coloring. Looking at the outside of a Chioggia, you wouldn’t know that inside are alternating rings of red and white, creating a beautiful pattern that will make you say, ‘ohh!’ Cooking the Chioggia, however, will make the colors bleed, creating a pink interior. This beet has a more mild flavor than the red beet and is best served shredded or sliced raw over a salad.
Just as we do with all small, family farmers, we feel honored to be able to share the Andreotti family produce with our customers and thank you for choosing Sigona’s. My Uncle Carmelo has put together a few recipes for greens and beets. Simply follow the links and enjoy.