By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
Saturdays in April signal a transition at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market. Tones of brown, orange, and red root vegetables – are giving way to green. .
Bunches of chives, bags of tender yet crisp pea shoots, and such unusual items as kalette make shopping for a meal almost seem like an opportunity to eat the spring. These items also might coax you to check your own garden, too. Unfortunately, the soil in our region is too cold to get much of a spring garden going just yet. However, several farmers have been bringing new assortments of fresh-grown greens, savory herbs, and other vegetables to market. Here’s a rundown of a few of the items available now:
Chives. These long green grass-like fronds poke their way out of over-wintered perennial beds in early April. According to Paul Arnold, owner of Pleasant Valley Farm, the life cycle of chives is tied to the lengthening days. With more hours of daylight, chives grow tall and thick. They’ll remain abundant until summer when shortening days limit their access to light. Try sprinkling finely chopped chives over potatoes, or adding some to scrambled eggs.
Pea shoots. These sweet crisp greens are popular now, as pea lovers wait for the “real vegetable” to make their debuts in June. Pleasant Valley seeds pea shoots every two days to bring to market. Home gardeners can seed pea shoots, as well, and develop an indoor garden in about 10 days. Toss pea shoots into salads, press them into sandwiches, or add them stir-fries.
Kalette. This vegetable grew out of a cross between kale and brussels sprouts. The result is a plant with small tender leaves and florets that resemble broccoli. The plants are sold with their stalks, which are crisper and flavorful. The Fresh Take Farm will be selling kalettes for two to three weeks. Try them sautéed in oil with onions and garlic or steamed.
Ramps. These wild scallion like plants grow in wooded areas, favoring maples, said Albert Sheldon of Sheldon Farms, which hopes to bring ramps to market tomorrow. Both the leaves and the root are edible, and while they make a good substitute for scallions or green onions, they also taste great by themselves.
Parsnips. Pleasant Valley has been bringing parsnips left in the ground over winter to market now. Left this way, parsnips cure and sweeten considerably, Arnold said. As April arrives, the ground thaws, making it a good time to start digging out the parsnips to enjoy roasted, baked, sautéed, steamed, or fried.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market takes place 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through April 30 in the Lincoln Baths Building at the Saratoga Spa State Park. The market will open its summer season Wednesdays, 3-6 p.m., and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 4 at High Rock Park.
Recipe courtesy of Albert Sheldon of Sheldon Farms
Prep: 5 min
Cook: 1 min
*Ingredients available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market
• 1 bunch ramps*
• oil for cooking
Wash ramps thoroughly in cool water. Remove the stringy roots at the base. Chop the bulb and greens into ½-inch size pieces. Heat oil in a skillet or wok. Add ramps and stir-fry rapidly over a medium-high heat until greens are wilted, approximately 1 minute. Remove from heat and serve immediately.