Farmers Market Update: A Midsummer Day’s Dream

by | Jul 25, 2010
Star Squash

Star Squash

“And, most dear actors, eat no onions or garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath; and I do not doubt but to hear them say, it is a sweet comedy.”

– A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act 4, Scene 2), William Shakespeare

It is hard to imagine having anything but sweet breath after leaving the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market this weekend. I must have tried at least a dozen different varieties of pluots, and at least as many peaches and nectarines (my favorite this week).

Organic Yellow Peaches

Organic Yellow Peaches

Nectarines

Nectarines

There were strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Apricots and figs. Melons and tomatoes. All sweet as can be.

Organic Raspberries

Organic Raspberries

Even the greens looked tender and sweet. I couldn’t help but get some of this red kale from Green Gulch Farm. There is something amazing about fresh picked greens grown with care. They look so soft, yet crisp and nutritious.

Beautiful Collards

Beautiful Collards

Red Kale

Red Kale

I would have bought some of the beautiful collards as well if I had been able to resist the beautiful chioggia beets, whose greens came attached for free (here’s my favorite beet recipe). I also grabbed one of their tea bouquets. Yes, we have some seriously sweet breath up in here.

Fresh Tea Bouquet

Fresh Tea Bouquet

Chioggia Beets

Chioggia Beets

I’m very excited to see that midsummer is in full swing and the eggplants are finally worth noticing. And being the chiliphile that I am, I was delighted to find that the peppers are starting to heat up.

Green Hot Chili Peppers

Green Hot Chili Peppers

Rosa Bianca Eggplants

Rosa Bianca Eggplants

I noticed fresh green beans have appeared too (no wax beans yet).

And lastly, does anyone know what glacier lettuce is??

Glacier Lettuce

Glacier Lettuce

Fresh Green Beans

Fresh Green Beans

Today’s purchases:

What did summer bring you this week?

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Farmers Market Update: April Showers

by | Apr 11, 2010
Asparagus and Radishes

Asparagus and Radishes

I made a San Francisco rookie mistake today at the farmers market.

Yesterday was so incredibly beautiful I didn’t think it was possible we could have rain today. I was wrong and should have known better.

Completely unprepared, I found myself at the farmers market in the rain with no umbrella, a light hoodless jacket and tiny little non-waterproof shoes. Consequently, I didn’t feel much like lingering and did most of my purchases at just a few farms.

But despite my quickness to depart, I did notice the arrival of fava beans this week. Exciting!

First Fava Beans

First Fava Beans

Another rookie mistake I made was not showing up early enough to get the good strawberries. Anyone who visits the market regularly knows that the most special items tend to be gone by 9am. This morning I was told my strawberries were gone by 8:30. When the weather gets warmer there will be strawberries by the truck load, but until then the early bird catches the worm.

But I didn’t miss out completely. The artichokes I bought last week were so mind blowing that I had to get them again. I also noticed that collard greens are looking particularly tasty.

Collard Greens

Collard Greens

Small Artichokes

Small Artichokes

And though radishes have been around for a few weeks, they are just now starting to look really beautiful.

Carrots have also been impressing me the past few weeks. Every time I eat one I think with pity about all the kids growing up thinking that those flavorless bagged “baby carrots” are what vegetables really taste like. The real thing is as sweet as candy.

Adorable Carrots

Adorable Carrots

This week I finally broke down and bought an heirloom tomato. I’ve been putting this moment off knowing they wouldn’t be quite good yet. But these are starting to look pretty awesome, so I took the plunge. It was good, but not great.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

Fresh eggs are not to be missed this time of year. Even if you cannot afford to eat them regularly, I recommend heading to the farmers market and picking some up at least once. You’ll be amazed. Use them to make a special brunch. (Pro tip: Try them with a sprinkle of smoked paprika)

Meyer Lemons

Meyer Lemons

Eatwell Eggs

Eatwell Eggs

You should also stock up on Meyer lemons while you have the chance.

And though these are things I didn’t actually buy, they are great examples of why I love my farmers market so much. Purple potatoes and low sugar jam FTW!

Very Low Sugar Jam

Very Low Sugar Jam

Purple Potatoes

Purple Potatoes

Today’s Purchases:

Is it spring for you yet?

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Farmers Market Update: Late Summer

by | Sep 6, 2009
Asian Pears

Asian Pears

I had to do a double take when I looked at the calendar this week. Is it really September already? Looks like it is, and the farmers market seems content to prove it to me. Not only was there a decent selection of pears, apples, grapes and other fall fruit, the market was completely packed with football fans for the Cal game. Go Bears!

I was particularly impressed with the Asian pears this week at K&J Orchards. I’m not always a big fan of Asian pears, I find they get a fermented taste very quickly if they are too ripe, but this week they blended a perfect mix of sweet and crispy. K&J has about half a dozen varieties, all different and delicious. They are pricey, but worth trying at the height of season.

Warren Pears

Warren Pears

Niitaka Asian Pears

Niitaka Asian Pears

The legendary Warren pears have appeared at Frog Hollow, but I couldn’t bring myself to choose them over the newly arrived emerald beaut pluots and flavor kings. I’m not letting go of summer quite yet.

O Henry Peaches

O Henry Peaches

Emerald Beaut Pluots

Emerald Beaut Pluots

It is definitely time to start buying grapes, however. If you make it to the farmers market, sample them all and find the ones you like best. I like them very crisp and sweet, but not too sweet.

Collard Greens

Collard Greens

Black Grapes

Black Grapes

Finally, don’t forget to try all the wonderful varieties of peppers. I put them in everything these days, but especially love to cook them up with onions, fresh corn, tomatoes, garlic and cilantro.

Pimentos

Peppers

Gypsy Peppers

Gypsy Peppers

Fresh beans and Asian greens and other specialties like bitter melon are also easy to find.

Bitter Melon

Bitter Melon

Romano Beans

Romano Beans

Today’s Purchases:

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Quick Fix: Collards, Carrots and French Green Lentils

by | Apr 24, 2009
Collards, Carrots and Lentils

Collards, Carrots and Lentils

Last week I wrote about the perfect balanced meal and featured a picture of my dinner the previous night: collard greens, carrots and French green lentils. Since then I have had more than a few requests for the recipe and am happy to provide an encore to the How To Get Started Eating Healthy book.

Lentils are incredibly nutritious and easier to cook than dried beans. They also have the third highest protein content of any plant. A single serving of lentils contains 18 g of protein, 63% of your daily fiber and 37% of your iron in only 230 calories!

That’s more iron than 1,123 calories of prime rib. Remember when I said every plant could be considered a superfood? Well, lentils are no exception.

Lentils and other legumes are also great for weight loss and are a fabulous alternative to grains for individuals who are insulin resistant or diabetic, since they have minimal impact on blood sugar.

For a pan cooked dish, you want lentils that are fairly robust and maintain their shape after cooking. I prefer French green lentils, but standard brown lentils also hold up pretty well. Simply boil them in excess water with a pinch of salt for 20 minutes or so until tender (do not overcook). Strain, then toss them in with your vegetables at the end of cooking just to coat with flavor and heat through. Lentils freeze well, but can be kept fresh in the refrigerator 3-5 days.

In this recipe, kale or chard can easily substitute for the collards. If you want to use spinach, add it last after the lentils. Fold it in and allow it to wilt into the dish.

Collards, Carrots and French Green Lentils

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 collard leaves
  • 4-5 medium carrots
  • 1/2 cup French green lentils, cooked
  • 1 small leek
  • 1 clove garlic
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • lemon juice (optional)
  • chopped parsley (optional)

If you are making your lentils from scratch, quickly pick through them for pebbles, give them a rinse then boil them in excess water with a pinch of salt for 20-30 minutes, until tender. Even though I rarely consume more than half cup (cooked) in one sitting, I usually like to cook up at least one cup dry (at least 4 servings) and save the rest for later. Start them boiling as soon as you step into the kitchen and start cooking your vegetables at least 15 minutes after you turn them on.

In the mean time clean and chop your leek and mince your garlic. Peel and slice your carrots at a sharp angle to maximize the surface area for cooking. Clean your collard leafs, chop off the stems then stack them on top of each other in a pile. Cut into one inch squares, removing any sections that have thick pieces of stem.

Heat a pan on medium heat, then add olive oil. When the oil swirls easily in the pan, add the leeks and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes, until the pieces break up and become tender and translucent. Add carrots and stir. Cook 2 minutes, then add collards. Sprinkle with sea salt and continue to cook, stirring occasionally.

Be careful with your heat when pan frying collard greens–don’t let it get too high. The leaves easily trap steam from cooking, and I had a few jump out of my pan onto the floor. They make a loud popping sound too, which is very exciting. If it makes you feel safer, you can cover the greens for the first minute or two while they soften.

Shortly after the collards turn bright green from cooking (4-5 minutes), clear a space in the center of the pan and add your minced garlic in a single layer (you can add a touch more oil if necessary). Let garlic cook 30 seconds or so until fragrant, then add the lentils and mix with the other vegetables. A squeeze of lemon juice, zest or a dash of vinegar is a good addition here, if you like. A sprinkle of your favorite herb, e.g. Italian parsley, basil or thyme, adds depth and complexity if you have them around.

Continue cooking 3-4 more minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. If you are using cold lentils, cook until warm. Adjust salt and serve.

This dish is wonderful as a main course, by itself or with brown rice. It can easily be scaled to accommodate a large crowd if you have a big enough pan.

What flavors do you love to pair with lentils?

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Farmers Market Update: Amnesia

by | Jan 31, 2009

collard leaf

First off, I would like to apologize for getting this post up so late. I brought my camera to the market today, but unfortunately it was missing its memory card.

So yeah, both my camera and I were experiencing memory dysfunction.

In a lot of ways being camera-free was liberating; my shopping was easier and less hurried. But I do regret not getting a picture of the cherry blossoms from Hamada Farms.

As an alternative to authentic farmers market pictures, today I opted to bring my purchases home and try out some new photo equipment I am experimenting with. This project took all afternoon, and the rest of the evening I spent editing and writing.

Please let me know what you think about these photos. I am considering using more images like this at Summer Tomato in the future. (Don’t worry, they won’t entirely replace my regular farmers market pictures).

I think the images of leafy greens are particularly cool because they look like dendritic arbors of neurons, which is what I work on in lab every day.

———-

Today the market was beautiful. It was calm and not at all crowded, but I could feel winter winding down. The sun was bright and almost warm.

At the stands there were only a few lingering winter squash and more delicate greens are springing up everywhere. Pomegranates cannot be found at all (new cereal topping ideas anyone?) and even the citrus selection is less diverse than it was a few weeks ago.

Spring is on its way!

Today’s purchases:

  • Trumpet mushrooms (Far West Fungi)
  • Romanesco (Dirty Girl Produce)
  • Ruby chard (Star Route)
  • Pink pomelo (Paredez Farms)
  • Naval oranges (Hamada Farms)
  • Blood oranges (Hamada Farms)
  • Meyer lemon (Hamada Farms)
  • Baby artichokes (Iacopi Farms)
  • Collards (Capay Organics)
  • Gold chard (Capay Organics)
  • Treviso (Capay Organics)
  • Kiwi (Four Sisters Farm)
  • Rosemary (Chue’s)
  • Italian parsley (Chue’s)
  • Garlic (Chue’s)
  • Espresso Temescal (Blue Bottle Coffee)

I would love to know what you think about my photos! And FYI, the scientific glassware is a pet project of mine, I didn’t get it at the farmers market….

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