May was cool and rainy — with more than six inches of rain. We welcome June — and with it, the start of farmers’ market season!
More than a month ago we ate the last veggies stored in our freezer from last year. And so we have been impatiently waiting for Farmers’ Market to start again!
Fresh produce that has not traveled thousands of miles is delicious and healthy. Buying at the farmers market is a win-win for all. Farmers win because they pocket a greater share of the retail price than selling wholesale through middlemen. Consumers win because they get the freshest produce and products that are unique and not available in stores. The planet wins because less carbon is released into the air, since products don’t need to travel as far. Our community wins because money is spent locally and stays here. Everyone wins because relationships are made at farmers’ markets.
We enjoy going to the market to greet old friends and make new ones. We catch up with our local farmers, most of whom we have missed through the long winter. We also meet friends who come to shop. And meet new folks who may have moved into our area and are checking the market to see what’s new.
So what can you expect to find at early season markets? Lots of stuff! Our first June market had more than 20 vendors. The two vegetable vendors had lettuce, spinach, other greens, radishes — including the French Breakfast variety Mom loves — beets, carrots, scallions, spring herbs like slender chives and tender parsley, and of course rhubarb and asparagus. There were vendors with pasture-raised meats and eggs. There were artisanal bread and fresh-baked pastries. There was a variety of goat and cow cheeses – and you could taste-test to select which ones appeal to you. There were cultured vegetable pickles, wines, maple syrup, apples and strawberries. There were crafts, from wooden furniture to jewelry, pottery, and everything in between!
Here are a couple recipes I made with what we brought home.
Asparagus Ham Rolls
1/2 lb. asparagus
1/4 lb. thin-sliced ham
Several slices Provolone cheese (also use American)
A little oil for the pan
Rinse asparagus and snap off tough ends. Steam two to five minutes, depending on freshness and toughness.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil or butter a 9-inch baking dish.
On a cutting board or plate, lay out a ham slice. Top with 1/2 slice of cheese, the 3 asparagus spears (you may need to cut longer spears in half to fit). Fold ends over and lay in prepared baking dish.
Bake five to 10 minutes, until cheese melts. Serve with mashed potatoes or fresh artisan bread.
Spring Salad with eggs
1 bunch baby spinach or 1 head lettuce, or combination
3 to 4 scallions
1 small bunch radishes
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more (to taste)
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt or combination
Salt & pepper to taste
Option: a little crumbled cheese
Hard cook eggs. Peel and set aside.
Wash greens, tear, and place in salad bowl.
Remove root ends from scallions and radishes. Wash and slice. Add to the greens. Sprinkle with salt and stir to combine.
Chop eggs and stir in.
Fold in sour cream or yogurt. Add cheese, if using.
Taste and adjust seasonings — more yogurt, more salt, some pepper.
Serve with fresh artisan bread or fresh baguette for a light lunch.
Serves two to three.
Author of the award-winning cookbook Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market, Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be reached at www.wordsaremyworld.com or on Facebook as Author Yvona Fast.