It’s about that time of year again. No-I’m not talking about the finale of America’s Next Top Model (go Anya!). Nor huge summer movies starting to overtake the theaters (I need to see Iron Man ASAP). It’s farmer’s market time!!! Well, technically the Green Market in New York goes on all year round, but I don’t go in the winter.
Farmer’s Markets are a healthy cooking lover’s best friend. So much fresh, healthy food it’s hard to avoid super healthy meals! My parents are big market people so I’ve gone all my life and have been surrounded by yummy market produce. When I was younger, we went to some random market that was indoors and all I remember about it is they had good cookies and tomato plants. Quite a contrast. That market closed and several years later a wonderful farmer’s market opened in Cleveland in Shaker Square. My parents go every weekend and I always go when I’m in town. It’s so fun and I even worked there one summer, hustling lettuce, peppers and flower bouquets. My mom has a horrid picture of me at the market that summer with a bouquet trying to convince people to buy it…it think the picture should be thrown away. Anyway, because I’ve always been surrounded by a love for fresh and local produce, going to the Union Square Green Market in New York is completely natural for me.
I just realized this post is going to get really long cause I have lots to talk about, so I’m not going to linger, like I tend to do. Well, I was able to make it to the market for the first time since December last Saturday, in an attempt to ward off my disappointment from not racing. Although many of the vendors still aren’t there and produce is limited (lots of seedlings-uh-I don’t have a garden.), I was able to get some pretty good stuff. Here is what I came home with:
I’ve been having fun mixing and matching all my bounty all week or dinners. And it’s all been really really REALLY good. Three reallys are definitely necessary. Here is what I did for each veggie I ended up with in my market bag.
Pasnips have a really good fresh flavor-they have a similar texture to carrots but taste quite different. I can’t quite describe it, but if you haven’t had a pasnip, try one! I chopped my 2 parsnips up (that I think I got for $.50!!), tossed the pieces with a tiny bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and tossed it on the oven. I made this one night for a different night to eat so wasn’t thinking about them for dinner. And totally forgot about them roasting away. 2 hours after I stuck my pan of parsnips in the oven, my roommate comes home and says “oo, it’s hot in here and it smells so good!”. Whoops!!! I ran over to the oven and pulled out a pan of burned parsnips. It’s a good think burned veggies don’t really bother me and I hate wasting food, so I just threw it in a tupperware and tossed it in the fridge. And it was still very yummy. Even burned. And so easy!
When I saw this bunch at one of the stands at the market, I couldn’t resist! It was so colorful and fresh looking! They had regular radishes and these french breakfast radishes. I decided to go with the latter because I’d never had that variety. And I’m very glad I went with that choice. A typical way to serve raw radishes is with butter and salt. I didn’t want to eat them with butter, so I dipped them in a little bit of kosher salt. WOW. The flavor was amazing and the salt really did enhance them. So refreshing and fresh tasting (yeah-FRESH is the word of the day, I think appropriatley). Each crispy cool but sharp bite was better than the last and might have been my favorite part of my meal when I ate them last night. I think if the price is right, next time I’m going to buy two bunches. Crazy! Living on the edge.
Radish up close!
Okay-nothing very exciting here. It was cheap so I grabbed one, and I’m sure much fresher than the ones I buy at Key Food. Considering I eat one almost every week, I did my normal baked sweet potato topped with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and chili powder. It was good. No surprises there. But, if I see them next week, I’ll still buy one cause of the freshness factor. Freshness is better.
Baby Bok Choy
This was the surprise of the bunch. I’d never seen bok choy at the Green Market before and when I saw this bag FULL of super bright green but teeny bok choy, I knew I had to grab it. Because the bag was so big, I ate a few pieces almost every night this week, and never got sick of it. In fact, I just finished it off tonight and was quite sad. For 2 nights I sauteed (over very high heat for fast cooking) some washed bunches (kept intact) with tofu chunks in sesame oil, hoison sauce and ginger. I didn’t overcook the bok choy to keep the freshness in tact. Good. really good. And perfect to eat with my fav chopsticks. Another night I cooked some with my ramps (see below) and 2 nights I barely cooked it in a very small amount of olive oil. All so good and refreshing. This bag was definitely a winner and definitely something I will buy again if given the opportunity. Yay baby bok choy!!
This was without a doubt my most adventerous purchase. If you know much about farmer’s markets and seasonal produce found at them, you’ll probably know that ramps are a beloved and hoarded spring item. They are part of the onion family and have a short growing season. See more info here. I’ve seen them and read about them everywhere but was always scared to buy them. So intimidating those little guys! I thought I had missed the season so was pleasantly surprised when I found lots at the market. I decided to take a chance and buy a bunch, and am soooo glad I did. To cook them, I washed them really well (they definitely weren’t the cleanest thing I’ve bought at the market), trimmed off the roots and the greens. However, next time I will use the greens; for some reason I didn’t think you could eat them. I chopped them up into small pieces and sauteed them in a little olive oil, salt and pepper. When they were almost done (which was a total guesstimate considering I’d never seen a cooked ramp before), I added some of my bok choy and ended up with a delicious combo. Really delicious. This might have been my favorite of the week, which is saying a lot considering I’ve loved everything I bought and cooked from the market this week. And the flavor of ramps? Quite hard to describe: definitely onion-y with a bit of garlic flavor as well as leek, but subtler. However, I know why they are so coveted and why people basically bust out of bed at 4am to get their share. I loved them so much that might be me next Saturday. Well, I’ll probably be still sleeping but I’ll probably be dreaming of ramps.
Ramps with Bok Choy
Overall, it was quite a successful week of goodies from the Green Market. I truely enjoyed every item I bought. But, being the beginning of the season, this was a small bounty for me. In the peak of summer, I buy the majority of my food at the market-I never buy produce at the grocery store over the summer. Cause this stuff is fresh. So much fresher than what you’ll get at the grocery store. And fresh is good. Not only tasty good, but good for your body. Tons of nutrients and vitamins and flavors that make your belly smile.
Lesson to take away: if there is one in your area…go to the farmer’s market! Try new veggies and fruits. You never know when you’ll get addicted to a new super healthy veggie. mmmmm ramps.