California has come alive! Farmers Markets are bursting with vibrant flowers and vegetables in all their glory. I had only a short time to peruse the aisles this week but as you can see, I still managed to gather quite a few items. A total of 32 from bread and milk to lettuce and asparagus.
What’s new to the market and what’s on its way out? You may see a few butternut squash here and there, but they are pretty much on their way out, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and citrus are dwindling as well. I think we have officially made the transition to spring this week. Strawberries were back. They made an appearance three weeks ago then disappeared. Why? The rain caused mold and that crop was tossed.
Asparagus looks and tastes spectacular. Spring onions, green garlic and leeks still line the colorful market stalls. They are maturing and becoming more flavorful as the weeks go by. According to a few farmers, green garlic and spring onions have approximately 2 more weeks before they are gone until next spring-so snatch them up. I will have a few new ways to use these alliums in a post this weekend.
Spring greens are plentiful. Baby arugula, so small and tender, delicate and spicy; I ate it by the handful. A variety of mustard greens with just the right kick. Spinach, baby kale, hefty heads of lettuce and variegated radicchio are abundant.
As I strolled down one aisle, I spotted a new kid in town. Big wooden crates of Full Belly Farm sugar snap peas were a delight to see. Crunchy and sweet, they are nature’s candy. My Family’s favorite way to enjoy them are raw, eaten right from the fridge We also like them sautéed in a bit of olive oil for just a few minutes, then add some chopped mint and a squeeze of lemon.
Asparagus is abundant. One of the questions I hear most when strolling down the aisles at the market is whether shoppers should buy pencil thin or jumbo asparagus.
My husband is a die-hard thin asparagus guy, no matter what. I buy depending on how I plan to use it. If you don’t know how you will use it than I suggest the jumbo or big size. Thin asparagus is delicious raw, in salads particularly. Jumbo or big asparagus is great for cooking. If you choose to eat them raw, cut off the woody bottom part then thinly slice into discs on a mandolin or with a knife. I wrote about the mandolin below, in my last post. It costs about $10 and I use it a lot.
When you buy locally, fresh and seasonally, little effort is needed to make food taste delicious. It is delivered to you at the peak of freshness. So get out there, find a farmers market and grab a taste of the season.