No matter what month of the year it is, you can almost always count on there being a healthy supply of locally grown scallions.
The green elongated, tubular cousin of the bulb onion is right at home basking in Ventura County's moderate year-round climate.
Scallions don't rely on heat "like other onion varieties do for growth and flavor," said Bill Queen, a Somis ranch owner. And winter's extreme frost doesn't normally pose a danger for the green onion either.
"During the winter, as a precaution, I just plant them at an area of my field that is higher elevated--moving them to an area less susceptible to frost," Queen said.
At Queen Ranch, after scallion seeds are sown it takes about 90 days before they reach maturity.
"When they reach the point where they're ready to be picked, we basically just jerk them out of the ground, bunch them up and send them on their way," Queen said. "There's nothing too exciting about it."
Unlike other crops that need painstaking field preparation and one eye on the harvest at all times, green onions do best when you "just let 'em grow," Queen said.
"They are favorable to grow in that there's not much to worry about. The one thing I have to watch for is to keep the weeds under control. If they grow too much, the scallions are done for."
Weed growth left unchecked can choke the green onions, Queen said.
As for utilizing scallions in food, we turned to chef Jeffrey Axl of the Hyatt Westlake Plaza Hotel Restaurant for advice.
"I use them a lot for garnishing and in Oriental dishes--especially stir-frying," Axl said.
"Lately I have been grilling them. Just brush them with olive oil along with some garlic and basil. Leave them on the grill for about a minute and turn over for another minute."
Axl said the grilled scallions add a colorful--and flavorful--embellishment to any number of dishes.
Fresh local scallions can be had at the Ventura Farmers' Market and numerous Ventura County roadside stands, including:
Queen Ranch, 3400 Los Angeles Ave., Somis; Central Market, 505 Wood Road, Camarillo; Somis Farm, 3766 Somis Road, Somis; and Underwood Ranch, 5696 Los Angeles Ave., Somis.
Have you been wondering what the latest word is on the would-be Camarillo Farmers Market? Well, here it is:
We recently spoke with organizer Jane Rozanski and she said the tentative opening date will be March 2, 1991.
"We're planning on the market being open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon," she said, "and right now it looks like it will be located at the parking lot of the Senior Nutrition Center on Ventura Boulevard."
Rozanski, who is also executive director of the Camarillo Hospice, said the organizers have contacted about 75 farmers on the prospects of bringing part of their harvests to the market "and we're getting good response."
Rozanski said the idea of organizing a farmers market was born from more than just making money.
"We were looking for a way to raise funds to benefit Camarillo Hospice and the Pleasant Valley Hospital Auxiliary since we depend on contributions to run the organization," Rozanski said.
With public interest running high for a farmers market outlet in Camarillo and given the city's proximity to an agricultural haven, "it seemed like a good idea," Rozanski said.
Farmers who are interested in talking to organizers about joining the growing list of sellers can call Rozanski at 484-2831, Ext. 698.
SERVING SUGGESTION: PERSIMMON STICKS
Back on Oct. 25, we gave you a recipe for Persimmon Gnocchi and now we've come across another suggestion to serve up those ripening mushy persimmons that have been plucked from your tree: Peel them, put them on a Popsicle stick and freeze them. Ours came out tasting like fruity ice cream. These are definitely not junk food, but your kids may be fooled into eating them.
Seaside Banana Gardens--Offers numerous varieties of locally grown bananas year-round. 6823 Santa Barbara Ave., Ventura. Call 643-4061.
Otani Izzy Fish Market--Watch for a fresh catch of yellowtail tuna and red snapper. 610 S. A St., Oxnard. Call 483-6519.
Cal Pacifica Seafood--Santa Barbara spot prawns and thresher shark are available this week. 36 Franklin Lane, Ventura. Call 643-2586.