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A Buddha's Hand fruit. Stock image
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West Coast Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving close upon us, I am trying to think of fruits and vegetables that are exotic and represent the West Coast palette to add to the usual holiday fare.

On a trip to the Vista Farmers Market, I met David Estrella, manager of Limelight Groves in De Luz, north of Fallbrook, to sell his certified organic produce each Saturday.

At one of the vendor’s stalls, I instantly spot a bright yellow and green fruit with a structure so unusual it is almost scary. This citrus fruit has long finger-like appendages that reach out from the core to create the “hand.” It is said that the fingers of the fruit resemble the Buddha’s hand in prayer.

David quickly filled me in about the usage of the Buddha’s Hand fruit, and we arranged a decorative table setting with the Buddha’s Hand, dragon fruit, mandarin oranges and limes. The result was exotic — not the usual carnations in a vase at many Thanksgiving tables.

All of Estrella’s exotic fruit and vegetable products can be ordered directly from Limelight Groves and picked up at the Vista Farmers Market at the county courthouse site, each Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. For more information, visit or email [email protected].


According to Spruce Eats: “Like other varieties of citron, Buddha’s hand is used mainly for its zest and peel. In fact, most varieties of fingered citron don’t have any fruit or pulp to eat either within the peel-covered fingers or inside the base of the fruit.

“To use Buddha’s hand, break off a ‘finger’ from the hand, and grate or peel the bright lemon exterior. As with all citrus peel, you only want the brightly colored part, not the bitter white pith beneath.

“Use the resulting shredded zest in baked goods, salad dressings, drinks, marinades, or any dish or recipe that calls for lemon zest or orange zest. Note that its aroma is quite intense. Lovely and floral, but concentrated and intense. A little goes a long way in any dish.”


Go to any North County farmers market or high-quality food market and select the most unusual fruit you can find. Suggestions would be: Buddha’s Hand, dragon fruit, pineapple, clementine and jicama. You will also need four large limes for the dressing and grated coconut; spices as per recipe.

To create the exotic “Buddha Salad,” start with a deep dish, round serving platter. Place the Buddha Fruit in the center (leave in original shape without breaking off pieces.) If you cannot find Buddha Fruit, use a small pineapple.

Peel and slice all fruit in long, thin slices in concentric circles around the fruit in the center. Make lime juice dressing (see below). Pour dressing over salad, sprinkle with coconut and serve. Can be made a few hours ahead of time and refrigerate.

Fresh Lime Salad Dressing (Food Network)


• 2 cups water

• 1 cup sugar

• 1 teaspoon grated ginger

• 1 inch by 1/4-inch wide strip of lime peel

• 1/8 teaspoon turmeric

• 2 whole cardamom pods, crushed

• 1 whole star anise

• 1 cinnamon stick

• 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


Simmer the water and sugar, ginger, lime peel, turmeric or saffron, whole spices for five minutes. Let cool and strain out spices. Stir in fresh lime juice before serving over fruit, sprinkle with fresh coconut.


A complete guide to all North County farmers markets can be found at with a listing of weekly and weekend markets in our area.

The farmers market in Carlsbad Village, held Wednesdays from 2:30 to 6 p.m. through March, hosts a wide variety of vendors, including J.R. Organics, which offers seasonal, organic vegetables, flowers and wreaths made of fruit and vegetables. The wreaths can be ordered by calling (760) 453-4144 and picked up at the Carlsbad market.

Stop by any of the local markets including Vista, Carlsbad, Leucadia, Del Mar, Solana Beach and Cardiff for vegetables, flowers, breads and condiments for your Thanksgiving supplies.

We will have more holiday recipes and shopping ideas in upcoming issues. Contact us for questions and suggestions to share about your upcoming holiday celebrations.

Jano Nightingale is a Master Gardener and horticulturist and teaches gardening classes at the Carlsbad Senior Center. Call (442) 339-2650 to register for her outdoor vegetable garden class. She can be reached at [email protected].


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