Despite glooming gray skies of imminent rain, the farmers market was decidedly busier this week than last. Bushels of asparagus, baskets of strawberries, bunches of beets and radishes spread out as a cornucopia of colorful spring.
I was also pleased to see the Jamaican farmer. His stand does not have a banner announcing the name of his farmer but he has a lively banter with the customers encouraging them to buy from him – usually a vegetable, like callaloo, only seen in ethnic, corner markets or in his native country…uncharacteristically, this week it was the recognizable rhubarb and greenhouse tomatoes.
What I cherish most about the farmers markets is that often I find vegetables simply not available at regular supermarkets. Farmers continually experiment with what grows best in their soil and micro-climate. They balance this with growing the more marketable greens, tomatoes and berries.
All this experimentation challenges the locavore to try new vegetables and experiment with new recipes.
At Hutchinson Farm green garlic and garlic scapes, both derivates of young garlic, spring from the table. Green Garlic is round like a scallion, but long and fibrous like leeks. The young bulb has not yet developed the papery skin that would divide it into cloves (and add a protective layer for long storage). The scape is a long, squiggly shoot from the garlic bulb with a tip that looks like it’s ready to flower. Both have mild flavors and can be eaten raw or sautéed like regular garlic.
I was especially excited to see Kohlrabi. I have seen this brassica – a member of the cabbage family – at Whole Foods before, but had never tried it until I visited Costa Rica this past winter. At a yoga retreat in the mountains outside of San Jose, they simply roasted it with olive oil and garlic. I loved the simultaneously soft and firm texture, the mild sweetness that’s refreshingly moist. The flavor is subtle which makes its appeal perhaps limited, but the texture adds a nice balance to a (raw) coleslaw or (cooked) roasted root medley. The kohlrabi in my garden looks healthy but still has at least 4 weeks before harvest.
By coincidence, at Oleana Restaurant that night, they had a special of fried oysters on a bed of cucumber-kohlrabi salad. If I had to guess the recipe, it would go something like this.
24 Wellfleet Oysters from Pat Woodbury, shucked
Deep Fry Dredge:
½ cup fine corn meal
½ cup flour
½ tsp. zaatar (or mix of dried thyme, sesame and sumac)
2 tsp. salt
Oil for Deep-Frying½ tsp. fresh black pepper
1 kohlrabi, peeled and julienned
1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and julienned
1 tbs. freshly grated horseradish
1 cup plain Greek Yogurt
1 tbs. fresh mint
1 tbs. fresh parsley
Salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste
- Prepare salad by combining all ingredients together. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
- Pour plain oil in a deep cast iron skillet until it reaches 2 inches deep. Heat over medium high heat.
- Meanwhile, combine dry ingredients for the dredge.
- When oil is hot, toss oysters in the dredge. Shake off excess and gently drop into oil. Cook for about 3 minutes, turn over, and continue cooking until crispy all over.
- Drain oysters on a paper towel and serve immediately with Kohlrabi salad.