A couple of weeks ago, Lorrie Duckworth, who has a ranch in Sebastopol, showed up at my back door with about five pounds of freshly harvested organic blueberries.|

A couple of weeks ago, Lorrie Duckworth, who has a ranch in Sebastopol, showed up at my back door with about five pounds of freshly harvested organic blueberries. That night, I shared them with a number of friends, all of whom had identical reactions: They closed their eyes and nearly swooned.

"Tell her I love her," one friend insisted. I've rarely been more popular.

The blueberry is a remarkable thing. It is like its own little vitamin pill, with more antioxidant compounds than any other food. A blueberry also contains Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and small amounts of B vitamins, including B-6, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid. There are plenty of trace minerals as well -- potassium, copper, iron and zinc among them -- along with dietary fiber and very few calories, just 57 per 100 grams.

If you select foods based on their nutritional profiles, you may be running out for blueberries right about now. You need look no farther than your local farmers market.

You can also get blueberries at Sonoma Swamp Blues, a farmstand in the midst of a blueberry field located on Occidental Road where High School Street ends in Sebastopol.

The Sebastopol Berry Farm also sells blueberries at the farm, but you should call ahead because the hours are limited -- not surprising given that they attend more than a dozen farmers markets each week. The farm is located at 9201 Ross Station Road in Sebastopol and you can reach them by phone at 694-2301.

For more blueberry recipes, visit Eat This Now, this column's companion blog, at

Blueberries work well in a savory context in part because they are not overly sweet. This salad is light, bright and refreshing, especially in summer's heat.

Pasta Salad with Blueberries, Cucumbers, Feta and Fresh Herbs

Makes 3 to 4 servings

1/2 cup lightly toasted Israeli couscous (see Note below) or acini di pepe (small round pasta)

-- Kosher salt

1 small shallot, minced

1 teaspoon grated lime zest

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

2 teaspoon red wine or balsamic vinegar

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

-- Black pepper in a mill

3/4 cup blueberries

1 small red onion, in small dice

1 small Armenian cucumber, cut into small dice

4 ounces feta, in small chunks

8 to 10 spearmint leaves, cut in very thin strips

3 to 4 basil leaves, cut in very thin strips

1 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Fill a medium saucepan two-thirds full with water, season generously with salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, stir, reduce the heat to medium and cook according to package directions until the pasta is just tender. Drain, rinse in cool water, drain thoroughly and put into a wide shallow bowl.

While the pasta cooks, make the dressing. Put the shallot and lime zest in a small bowl, add the lime juice and vinegar, season with salt and stir in the olive oil. Taste, correct for salt and acid balance, season with several turns of black pepper and set aside.

If the blueberries are particularly large, cut them in half.

When the pasta is cooked and drained, spoon about half the dressing over it and toss gently. Add the blueberries, onion, cucumber and feta and toss again. Add the remaining dressing and the herbs. Toss once or twice, taste, correct for salt and pepper and serve at room temperature.

Note: Israeli couscous is a smooth round pasta slightly smaller than a pea. To keep it from becoming mushy when it is cooked, saute it in a hot dry pan -- cast iron is perfect -- for about 5 to 6 minutes, gently stirring all the while, before boiling it.

Fruit-based salsas have become increasingly popular in recent years. Some combine fruit -- strawberries, say, or watermelon -- with tomatoes, but I prefer to feature fruit on its own. This one, made with local blueberries, is excellent with grilled meats, especially chicken thighs, quail, duck and pork. This salsa is also excellent alongside cheeses, especially soft cheeses and blue cheeses.

Blueberry Salsa

Makes about 2 cups

1 1/2 cups blueberries

1 small red onion, in small dice

1 serrano or jalape??o, minced

1 tablespoon lime juice

-- Kosher salt

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves

2 teaspoons freshly chopped basil leaves

Cut the blueberries in quarters and put them into a medium bowl. Alternately, put them into the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse 2 or 3 times and transfer the blueberries to a medium bowl.

Add the onion, serrano or jalape??o and lime juice, toss and season with salt. Stir in the olive oil and add the cilantro and basil.

Cover and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir, taste and correct for salt and acid balance.

For a simple afternoon appetizer or a cheese plate/dessert on a warm night, try this tangy relish with creamy sheep ricotta cheese, available at many local independent supermarkets.

Blueberry & Corn Relish with Ricotta

Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 cups blueberries, quartered

1 ear of corn, shucked and grilled or boiled for 1 to 2 minutes

1 shallot, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar

-- Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

-- Black pepper in a mill

12 ounces Bellwether sheep ricotta

-- Small basil sprigs, for garnish

Put the blueberries into a medium bowl. Cut the corn from its cob and add the kernels to the bowl, along with the shallot, garlic, ginger and vinegar. Season with salt and chipotle powder, add the olive oil, basil and several turns of black pepper and stir.

Cover and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and correct for salt and acid balance.

To serve, set the ricotta on a serving plate and spoon the relish over and around it. Serve immediately.

Michele Anna Jordan hosts "Mouthful" each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 & 91.1 FM. E-mail Jordan at You'll find her blog, "Eat This Now," at

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