Posts Tagged ‘fiddleheads’

Do Me A Fava, Will Ya?

The Raw Shit

When I was at the market this past weekend, 2 of the other luxuries of spring that I came across were fresh fava beans and fiddleheads.

To the best of my knowledge I’ve never eaten a fresh fava bean before; I’m actually trying to grow purple favas on the roof, but in the meantime these seemed like an acceptable substitute to test drive.  And we all know how much I love fiddleheads, so of course I had to buy some of those too.  Is there anything that signifies spring more than these dainty and curly ferns?

But soon after I paid for the goods, the question became what to do with such delicate beauties?

The asparagus bounty was easy enough to tackle, and in a move I’m not necessarily proud of (yet wouldn’t do any differently if I had to do it over) the Everyman and I consumed 4 pounds of the stuff in less than 72 hours.  In case you’re wondering, that’s a heck of a lot of asparagus salad.  It was only a pound that went into this dish, courtesy of our most recent Meatless Monday.

Over a gentle simmer I combined milk, veggie stock and water in a pot.  Then I added a cup and a half of polenta and began the furious stir.  As it approached a bubblingly critical mass, I briefly stopped churning and grated a few ounces of mixed cheeses (pecorino pepato, 1608, manchego and mozzarella) into a pile that was then incorporated into the polenta.  Allowing it to cool and firm up slightly, I sautéed a pound of asparagus with some fiddleheads, fava beans and a few sliced mini red peppers for colour.

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Market Meals June

New This Week

I’m a fairly industrious person by nature.

Yesterday morning for instance, I baked a loaf of banana bread and prepped a batch of pizza dough before I’d even left for work at 7:30.  That was in addition to the usual girliness of getting ready, packing lunch and tending to the animals (plus rousing the Everyman) that I normally do every day.

Since it was Tuesday I knew there’d be a farmer’s market opportunity when I got home, and for whatever reason I had grilled pizza on my mind.  This article from last week probably has something to do with it, plus the days are (slowly) getting warmer and that always makes me want to crack open the open air grill.  So, I whipped up a batch of dough before departing, figuring I’d work out the fine details whilst at the market and be ready to go once I returned.

When I got to the market (which now comes equipped with it’s own website) it turned out the universe had slightly different plans.  No doubt I’m usually one of the last people there since I’m coming from Mississauga during rush hour, but there was still half an hour until the market was supposed to close, but no veggies were in sight.  In fact, a few of the vendors were already gone, and others were in the process of packing up to go.  Just like that, visions of grilled asparagus pizza that had danced through my head went foop!  I wandered around the remaining stalls somewhat dejectedly, now unsure of what to make for dinner.  Then I came across the Millbank Creamery stand with it’s stacks of cheese and local Amish butter.  I grabbed a pound of butter and a chunk of mozzarella cheese and decided not to abandon the pizza plan just yet.  I stopped to see friendly Seth at Forbes to see if I could rustle up anything pizza-worthy, but all that was left were jars of preserves and dried nuts, seeds and berries, so I picked up a bottle of Labrador tea vinegar and carried on.  Seth says Labrador tea is beguilingly spicy, so I figure this vinegar might be the salad sprinkle of choice come summer.  As I headed down the path to leave, I passed The Local Cafe stand that foils me every time (since the market opened I’ve been trying to scrounge a yummy quick bread that the Everyman loves, but by the time I get there they’re always long gone).  Today was no different so I kept moving, but out of the corner of my eye I spied something on the Evelyn’s Crackers table; a lone bag of red fife wheat.  Eyes darting quickly around to ensure no one else had noticed it, I hied my way to the table and handed over the dough.  What a wonderful and unexpected prize.  I was almost upset that I’d already made pizza dough because I love red fife (really all hard flours; our standard is a hard unbleached wheat that comes flecked with it’s bran by the giant sack from Bob).  With that I began the short jaunt to home and started pondering what would make a good pizza.

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Market Meals May

New This Week

I went to the market again this evening (as I do most Tuesdays once May rolls around) in search of my friend Seth from Forbes Wild Foods. I was hoping he’d have more dried elderflowers since I burned through them rather quickly over the weekend.  Unfortunately that was not in the cards today, though he did promise me a bag for next week’s market.  As a consolation prize I helped myself to some of his other tasty edibles; maple syrup, more ramps and some garlic scapes, with not an inkling of what I would do with any of them.

One of the things I love about market days is not planning out what’s for dinner.  I’ll arrive at the market and let what’s fresh and in season inspire me towards inner deliciousness.  This evening I prepared our second real market meal of the season, a sparkling green pasta with flecks of rosy guanciale.

Seasoning The Pan With Garlic Scapes

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Mother Always Said You Have To Eat Your Greens

The First Fruits Of Spring

I’m a bit of an odd duck.

Ever since I was a child I’ve loved to eat my greens (with the exception of green peppers, which I think are absolutely repulsive).  In fact, I’ve never met another person who prefers green vegetables more than any other kind (like I do).  I might even go so far as to say that I’d choose them over fruit.  Astonishing, I know!

Which is exactly why spring just happens to be one of my favorite times of year.  Sure, over the winter months you can get your fair share of (greenhouse) microgreens, broccoli and heartier leafy varieties (like kale, cabbage, chard and brussels sprouts) but none can compare to the pungent sweetness of the first ramps, fiddleheads and asparagus of the season.  For the other 10-11 months that asparagus is not in season I have extremely vivid dreams of nibbling on those pencil-thin nutty stalks and spears.  Clearly I’m slightly obsessive.

Earlier in the week our organic delivery service brought us a pound of fresh fiddleheads and a deuce of asparagus, plus I had the leftover bounty of topless ramps from the farmer’s market, and the clock was literally ticking for them to get used before they went bad.  Another thing to note about fresh, new spring greens; they have a shorter shelf life than your typical root vegetable.  But, if you just treat them simply, they’ll be the star of your meal (and possibly give you funny smelling pee!)

Over the weekend the Everyman and I returned to Czehoski on a desperate search for more of those divine tamales, (which we were unable to procure, by the way).  After 2 meals out (both at Czehoski, no less) in 72 hours, I felt the need for lighter, spring-inspired fare to combat the decadent cheeseburger and fries with bacon gravy I’d wolfed down at lunch.  The pile of green veg hanging out in the fridge seemed the perfect antidote to grease, bacon and fat, so I set to work cleaning the lot of them.

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Score!

Killer Finds

I was bummed that I didn’t get my ‘nduja meats yesterday, but it inadvertently allowed me a chance to get to the first farmers market of the season at Trinity Bellwoods park last night.  The market was relatively small, what with being so early in the season, but that certainly didn’t mean it wasn’t worthwhile.

I love the conviviality of an outdoor market setting.  It’s so much more relaxed and comfortable, and you get a chance to talk to the purveyors one on one.  Like the ramp guy I chatted up last night, for instance.  I zeroed in on his stall as soon as I saw the giant basket of ramps, ecstatic that I’d get to have a few more before the season was over.  While I was waiting for him to finish up with another customer, I started perusing the other offerings on his table.  Lo and behold, didn’t I find a jar of jellied elderberry!  Since it appeared to be the only one, I clutched it in my hot little hand while waiting for my turn, not willing to give up this golden find to anyone.  They also had saskatoonberry compote, which is another wild-ish fruit I love, so I grabbed a jar of those too.  They had lingonberry and cloudberry and dozens of other things I would’ve loved to take home, but I knew I had to restrain myself, or else I’d have bought the entire tables’ worth of preserves in one fell swoop.

When it was finally my turn, (still clutching my elderberry jam) I asked for a pound of ramps and then inquired whether they ever carried the elderflowers (which I’ve been searching for in vain for a few months now and are supposedly amazing for making cordials and cocktails, etc).   Like some sort of crazy dream, the guy at the Forbes Wild Foods table grinned a megawatt grin, reached into a cooler under the table and pulled out a bag of dried elderflowers.  I’d been initially hoping for fresh, but considering this was the first time I’d even seen them in person anywhere, I wasn’t going to press my luck.  I happily caressed the bag, imagining all the panna cottas and other baked goods I could prepare with such a giant stash.  He was so taken by my sheer joy at finding them that he decided to cut me a deal on my whole purchase too, and you can’t argue with that!  By the time I arrived though (almost 6:30) he was already out of fiddleheads (the other wild food on my wish list for the evening), but promised there’d be more next week.  Incidentally I found out this morning that my organic delivery service is carrying them this week, so I can get my fiddlehead fix elsewhere.  I strolled home from the market with a bag full of goodies and a mind whirring from all the newly created possibilities.

When I got home I decided to make the ramp tart for dinner again because sometimes you can’t have too much of a good thing.  And again, it was delicious.  But it made me realize, while I love ramps as a whole, I think I actually prefer the less used but still delicious leaves more than the lily white bulbs.  When I was sauteing the ramps for the tart I looked at the pan that contained both leaves and stems and felt a little sad that there weren’t more leaves.  So I cannabalized most of the rest of the bag, and now have 3/4 of a pound of ramp bulb and stems sitting in my fridge instead.  Silly foodie!  I’ll have to come up with some other worthwhile use for them during the next few days (other than more pickled ramps) before they get a chance to go bad.  Yay spring!

Until next time…