Sunday, May 15, 2011

Summer Squash? But It's Still Spring!

Radishes at Blooming Glen's stall, Headhouse
Radishes? Check.
Asparagus? Absolutely.
Rhubarb? Of course.
Strawberries? Pushing it.
Zucchini? Get outta here!

Still, in making its 2011 Headhouse Farmers' Market debut Sunday, Blooming Glen Farm featured little summer squashes, a.k.a. zucchini, at $3 a pound. I think I'll wait until my neighbors are giving them away in August.

In the meantime, one can be perfectly happy with the profusion of asparagus, early lettuces and other greens of all sorts, the ravishingly red radishes and fresh, green varieties of allium -- green garlics, green onions, chives -- which could be found not only at Headhouse Sunday, but at Rittenhouse and Clark Park yesterday, Fairmount Thursday and all the produce stalls at the Reading Terminal Market.

Another sign of the season being pushed just a tad (besides the grown-under-plastic strawberries offered by A.T. Buzby at Headhouse) were snow peas Noelle Margerum displayed at Clark Park. She returned from a brief vacation to find them ready to pick, so to market they came.

Tom Culton's radishes were a tad larger than last week, of course, but they looked just as fresh and the greens just as tender. He and co-farmer Matt Yoder also had what they labelled as "framps," in actuality a wild garlic. Asparagus, salad greens, rhubarb and parsnips helped fill out the stall. Tom's foie gras production has started, though his limited quanity was sold out yesterday, with most of his output marked for restaurant customers, I presume. He hopes to have some at tomorrow evening's "for the trade" Local Growers/Local Buyers event at the RTM sponsored by Fair Food.

Queens Farm yellow oyster mushrooms
Queens Farm was back with its pristine and colorful mushrooms, as well as greens, spring green onions and garlic, and flowers.

Blooming Glen's offerings, besides the summer squashes, included cilantro, parsley, tatsoi, green onion, thyme, oregano, garlic chives, bok choi and various lettuces.

If you've got your own garden in need of feeding, you could have stopped by a stall that's new this year, Bennett Compost.

Although not all available spaces at Headhouse were filed today, it's getting close. Vendors at today's Headhouse market included:  Root Mass Farm, Savoie Organic Farm, Rics Bread, Garces Trading Company, Hurley's Nursery, Honest Tom's Tacos, Renaissance Sausage, Made in Shade Lemonade, Three Springs Fruit Farm, Patches of Star Goat Dairy, Hillacres Pride Farm, Busy Bee Farm, John + Kira's, Happy Cat Organics, Griggstown Quail & Farm Market, Market Day Canele, Philadelphia Fair Trade Coffee, Mountain View Poultry, Weaver's Way, Talula's Table, Longview Flowers, Birchrun Hills Farm and, Young's Garden. Among the missing was Wild Flour Bakery.

So, how to use some of those veggies? Pasta is always a no-brainer, and it shows up the vivacity of early produce wonderfully.

Earlier this week I used Culton's asparagus in penne. While the pasta water came to a boil I started warming up maybe a cup of homemade broth (I used beef, but no reason not to use chicken or veggie), to which I added cut up asparagus and thyme (fresh would be best, but I only had dried) when the pasta was nearly done. Drain the penne or other cut pasta when done, swirl as large a knob as butter as you can in good conscience consume into the asparagus and broth, and toss everything together with an obscene amount of freshly grated parmesan and maybe a grind or two of black pepper.

It's an infinitely variable recipe. Had I felt like doing a bit more prep work, carrot juliennes would have been a welcome addition, as would some of Noelle Margerum's snow peas. Just add the veggies to the broth in order as required for timing purposes. Voila! Pasta Primavera.

You could also sauté veggies rather than simmer. That's what Mark Bittman does in his New York Times Magazine recipes today.

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