Moon-blooming Dragon Fruit

The Whitlocks grow organic produce on 28 acres, harvest six days a week and ship up to 200 pounds of produce to Oahu weekly.

Some of what they grow:

Beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cherry tomatoes, citrus, curly kale, dragon fruit, eggplant, fennel, green beans, herbs, joi choi, Lacinato kale, lemon grass, lettuce, longon, lychee, around 30 varieties of mango, okra, papaya, radicchio, rambutan and taro.

DRAGON FRUIT

Native to Mexico, Central America and South America, dragon fruit grows from a vine-like cactus and only blooms at night under a full moon. The flesh is juicy, mildly sweet and loaded with little black seeds, similar to those in kiwi fruit.

Season: Late July into October.

What to look for: There are three types of dragon fruit: The red pitaya has fuchsia-colored skin and white flesh with black seeds. Costa Rica pitaya has fuchsia skin and magenta flesh, and yellow pitaya has yellow skin with white flesh. “Leaves” with brown tips are a sign that the fruit is overripe.

Storage: In high humidity, dragon fruit stores best in the refrigerator, but the longer it is stored, the more moisture it will lose. It will last one to two days at room temperature.

Tip: The flowers can be eaten or steeped for tea.

Preparation: The edible parts are the flesh and seeds, which are eaten raw. I like to cut the chilled fruit in half, scoop it out with a spoon and right into my mouth. It’s like nature’s ice cream in its own bowl.

Health benefits: Dragon fruit is 80-90 percent water and a good source of vitamin C. It’s high in antioxidants, phosphorus, fiber and calcium, and is said to increase elimination of heavy metal toxins, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and relieve respiratory ailments.

Moloa’a Organica’a produce can be found at:

Farmers Market: Waipa, Tuesdays at 2 p.m; Kapa’a, Wednesdays at 3 p.m.; Kilauea, Thursdays at 4:30 p.m; Hanalei, Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Grocery: Harvest Market, Healthy Hut, Kilauea Town Market, Hoku Foods, Papaya’s Natural Foods, Living Foods Poipu, Kukui’ula Market. Restaurants: BarAcuda, Kaua’i Grill, Postcards Cafe, The Tavern, Lilikoi Lunch Wagon, Moloa’a Fruit Stand, Coconut Cup, Oasis on the Beach, Red Salt, 22 North, Merriman’s, Roy’s, Josselin’s and local produce distributor Cultivate Kaua’i. Call 651-1446.

DRAGON FRUIT SALAD

This is a simple summer salad and a delicious way to enjoy dragon fruit. To extract the flesh, peel the skin like you would a pineapple. Some recommend cutting it in half and scooping out the flesh in one piece. I have found this damages the delicate insides.

* 1 head lettuce, chopped, or mixed baby greens, washed and dried
* 1 dragon fruit, diced
* 4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
* 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
* 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
* 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
* Hawaiian sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, a large pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper in a clean jar and give it a good shake.

Place the lettuce, dragon fruit and cheese in a large bowl and toss with vinaigrette. Sprinkle seeds over the top and serve.

Makes four servings.

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