Market Flavors Hint at Warmer Weather
With temperatures reaching the 40s this week and daylight continuing to increase, it’s starting to feel like the spring growing season might actually be around the corner. At the various produce farms attending the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, the high tunnels and greenhouses are already producing wonderful greens and spring seedlings are growing for new crops in April and May.
Michael Kilpatrick of Kilpatrick Family Farm (Middle Granville, Washington County) is excited about bringing many products to the spring market that are typically not seen until mid-summer.
“We’ll have four varieties of cucumbers ready by the end of April or early May, right when the outdoor market opens up again,” says Kilpatrick.
“Other early products we’ll be featuring include kale, chard, several varieties of lettuce, radishes and some new items, like sorrel and cress. Customers always seem to welcome a wide range of fresh greens after a long winter,” he notes.
Sorrel is a perennial herb with long, arrow-shaped green leaves that have a tart, lemony flavor. Sorrel is popular in many cultures in soups, stews, and salads, and is beginning to make a comeback on American menus.
Cress shares the tangy, sharp flavor of watercress and mustard, and is most often added to soups, salads and sandwiches for its flavor.
Kilpatrick Family Farm will also bring tulips to the spring market this year, likely by late April, when the market is still inside the Lincoln Baths in Saratoga Spa State Park. “We’ve given over some of our greenhouse space where we typically have grown tomatoes so we can offer some spring flowers instead this year.”
As the market’s farms and customers look toward spring with great anticipation, there are already abundant greens and other vegetables at the market. Kale, chard, arugula, spinach, and mixed lettuce are all currently available, along with many winter storage crops, including carrots, beets, turnips, leeks, potatoes, and more.
For anyone with a craving for warmer-weather flavors right now in March, market vendor Shushan Valley Hydro Farm stocks its table year-round with fresh red and yellow tomatoes, including beefsteak and cherry varieties, and also cucumbers, lettuce, arugula, basil, and other herbs. Grown inside greenhouses with water-based nutrients, these items are free of insecticides and herbicides. The farm is located in Shushan, a hamlet of Salem in Washington County.
This week’s recipe is for Tabbouleh, a classic Middle Eastern salad that features some of these ingredients including tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, and parsley. This salad makes a colorful accompaniment for a roast chicken or grilled steak or lamb chops from the market’s meat vendors. Or, for a fast, no-cook supper, simply garnish it with items such as chickpeas, sliced hard-cooked egg, lettuce or spinach greens, sliced mushrooms and some fresh-baked market bread or Saratoga Crackers.
*Ingredients available at the market
Note: Bulgur is available in most grocery stores, in packages or the bulk food section. It is a quick-cooking form of whole wheat.
1 C. bulgur
1 ½ C. boiling water
1 t. sea salt or kosher salt
¼ C. olive oil
¼ C. fresh lemon juice (roughly 2 lemons)
1 C. minced fresh parsley*
½ C. minced onion* or scallions*
2 C. ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 C. chopped cucumber
½ C. chopped fresh mint* (or basil*)
Pour boiling water over bulgur in a large bowl. Mix in salt, lemon juice, olive oil. Let sit for 30-60 minutes to absorb liquids and cool.
Chop and mix remaining ingredients. Add to cooled bulgur. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving, to allow the flavors to blend. Serve cool.