Spring’s a-springing, friends. Plants are starting to pop and that includes those of the edible variety! Our local farmers are ready to harvest their first spring goodies for the area markets.
You can count on greens being readily available — arugula, lettuces, chard, kale, and mustard greens. Buy a variety and mix them all up! They will be tender and fresh, the mustards and arugula offering a nice, spicy bite. Pile a mix on sandwiches, make a little salad, or rip them up and add to scrambled eggs or a pasta dish.
You’ll probably also come across broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and carrots. And, if you’re lucky, early spring peas. Don’t discard any part of these plants. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower leaves are delicious and very nutritious. You can add them to your greens mix or even make “crispy” leaves a la crispy kale. Just add the leaves in when massaging the rest of the vegetable with oil, then into the pan and keep an eye on them.
When leaves are crisp, pull from the pan and you have a little while-you-are-cooking snack. Delicious!
Carrot tops can be sautéed, added to pesto ingredients, or tossed into a smoothie.
There are more and more farmers markets popping up all over town. My favorite is Good Local Market, which exclusively hosts local growers and makers, and vets all vendors to ensure they are truly growing their produce. The market has a mix of organic and conventional farmers. Good Local is expanding this year with a new location in Oak Cliff. Its other locations are in East Dallas and Vickery Meadow.
The downtown Dallas Farmers Market also is adding more local vendors.
Remember not to just assume food is local because it is at an event called a Farmers Market. You may inquire with a seller, if signage is not present. Local growers love chatting and becoming friends with their customers, so they will always be happy to tell you about their farm and growing practices.
Know that most small farmers use mostly organic methods, even if they have not gone through the process of certification. This is another point you may discuss with a vendor.
It’s important to develop relationships with those who grow your food. Think of it as equal to a relationship with your doctor — nutrition is so important to our health! Become a regular, know your farmer, and enjoy the best nature has to offer, direct from the source. Bon appétit!