Farmer’s Market Bounty Hunter

This past weekend, I was driving East on the Mass Pike when I spotted one of those signs for a farmer’s market at the rest area.

“Damn,” I thought, “it’s after 5:30, they’ll be closed!” But I decided just driving through the rest area couldn’t hurt.

Thank goodness I did! Though they were packing up, the farmer’s market still had lots of produce. I bought a quart of blueberries, about a pound of green beans, an eggplant, an Asian eggplant, a bunch of beets, a bunch of carrots, and a cucumber. The total was $14.10. Such a bargin for so much organic produce! I was so overjoyed with the fact that I’d made it in time, I gave the farmer $15 and told her I didn’t need change. She looked surprised, then grateful. (And then she told me to take another cucumber!)

We devoured the blueberries en route. I thought we’d munch on the green beans, but I never want them quite as much as I think I do. I think I confuse them in my head with snap and snow peas. I’ll make those with garlic and lemon sometime this week. The beets and carrots will get shredded and make a nice salad.

Tonight, though, I tackled the eggplants and the cucumbers: I sliced the cucumbers, salted and peppered them, and tossed them in some vinegar and olive oil with some freeze dried dill.

And then, whoops, I ate them all. SO TASTY!

For the eggplant, I braved the summer heat and warmed up the oven. I sliced them up, laid them on a cookie sheet, coated them in olive oil, sprinkled on kosher salt, pepper, and dried rosemary.

(Now, in retrospect, I can see that I need a pastry brush, since I definitely used too much olive oil. But if there’s one thing I hate, it’s chewy eggplant, so I erred on the side of caution.)

I stuck the eggplant in the oven on the top rack uncovered at about 350ish (my oven is old and I don’t think that it gets up to its temperature sometimes), waited about 10 minutes until everything was crispy and delicious. Then I put them in a bowl, got a fork, and devoured them all. The regular eggplant got softer than the Asian eggplant, but really, they were all SO TASTY!

(Now, in retrospect, I really should have blotted them with a paper towel. But man, they were so perfectly charred and the greatest combination of crispy and velvety that I couldn’t resist. But really, could they have been any worse for me than fries? I doubt it. Somehow organic eggplant plus olive oil can’t be as bad as partially hydrogenated oil-coated potatoes.)

Plus, while the eggplant was cooking and while I prepped the cucumbers, I marinated and then roasted some chicken for lunch this week. With fresh basil from my little basil plant, hooray!

Tabbouleh

a108946_0051 The secret to good tabbouleh is very simple: don’t cook the bulgar. What’s the catch? You have to make it 24 hours in advance. The bulgar marinates in the juices of everything else, making for an especially flavorful dish.

Every time I make this recipe, I’m convinced it will fail: the bulgar won’t open up, I won’t have this dish, tragedy will ensue, etc. Every time, it is absolutely delicious.

Credit to my mom for teaching me this one.

Recipe for Tabbouleh Continue reading

Greens, greens!

Greens, greens, and nothing but greens:
Parsley, peppers, cabbages and celery,
Asparagus and watercress and
Fiddleferns and lettuce!
—Witch’s Lament, Into the Woods, Stephen Sondheim

Our weekly farm share has started.

So far, we have had:

  • mustard greens
  • spinach
  • arugula
  • broccoli
  • sugar peas
  • pea shoots
  • bok choy
  • red leaf lettuce
  • unidentifiable arugula-like greens
  • turnips (with greens)

I love my vegetables as much as the next person, but I confess I’ve been a little lost. How do I cook it all? What can be eaten raw? What needs to be cooked? And how the heck do I vary it all?

Fortunately, my brother recently lent me a copy of From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce. In the simple, straight-forward language of the Moosewood Cookbook tradition, it gives overviews and recipes for a wide variety of produce.

So when I decided to make the turnips & greens today, I was delighted to find it had an easy but tasty recipe that I could make with only a few ingredients. I was wary about the raisins at first, but it wound up being delicious! I mixed it all up with some whole wheat pasta and had a delicious, super seasonal dinner.

Keep on comin’, greens— I can take you!

Spring Turnips with Greens & Raisins (adapted from From Asparagus to Zucchini) Continue reading