A couple of posts ago, I mentioned how tiny our Broadway farmer’s market was compared to the more established markets around town such those in Ballard and West Seattle. Well, I am happy to report that things seem to have picked up a bit this year. There are still only a handful of farm stands selling fresh produce, but I know for a fact there is at least one that wasn’t around last year. Although the offerings are kind of slim at this point, it is still very early in the season. I’m sure the produce will become much more abundant over the next few months. In addition to the farm stands, there are more prepared food vendors this time around which helps give this year’s market a much livelier spirit. The recent sunshine is no doubt helping out in that regard as well. Many of my memories from last year’s market involve farmers huddling under their tarps trying to stay dry while the few patrons brave enough to face the rain ran around trying to do their shopping as quickly as possible. Give us a sunny day here in Seattle and people will gladly spend all morning wandering around the farmer’s market.

Although the variety of produce is much more modest this early in the season, I still managed to find a number of interesting things; things I probably never would have paid much attention to if it wasn’t for my brand new cookbook: Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets by Deborah Madison. This was actually part of our annual staff gift at work along with a reusable shopping bag (can you tell I work for an environmental company?) This is a perfect gift for me as I am a longtime fan of Deborah Madison. Her early cookbooks, The Savory Way and The Greens Cookbook, are classics in my family and, although I’m only part of the way through it, I wouldn’t be surprised if this new book also makes the list of favorites. Not only is it a fantastic collection of recipes, Local Flavors is also a really great reference guide for some of the less common fruits and vegetables that you often see at farmer’s markets. In preparation for this book, Deborah visited farmer’s markets across the nation, and she recounts plenty of interesting stories from them making this a very pleasant book to read. Deborah’s recipes are all very simple, allowing the exceedingly fresh and flavorful produce that farmer’s markets are known for to shine through. Some recipes feature regional fare that may not be available everywhere, but most rely on ingredients common to all farmer’s markets.

After reading through the chapters related to spring vegetables, I felt ready to approach my farmer’s market with new eyes. I excitedly picked up two vegetables I had never used before: sorrel and lovage. Sorrel is a leafy green with a bright, lemony flavor. It can be used raw in salads or may be cooked. Lovage is an herb that has a flavor similar to that of celery. From my new cookbook, I decided to make Risotto with Sorrel because it was so simple and therefore seemed like it would be a good showcase for the sorrel. The basic risotto is made from nothing more than butter, onion, Arborio rice, vegetable stock and lots and lots of sorrel. A few herbs and some cream are stirred in right at the end, but I actually thought it tasted great even before adding those extra ingredients. The sorrel cooks down to a deep olive-colored puree. It was amazingly buttery in texture, and I was quite surprised at how little of its signature tart flavor was lost even after cooking for nearly 45 minutes. The risotto tasted very Greek to me, like a complex spinach & dill flavored rice with lemon even though it was only made with sorrel. I served the risotto with salmon and a mix of braised spring vegetables including baby turnips, asparagus and green garlic which I seasoned with a dusting of minced lovage. It was a perfect springtime meal!

1 Comment »

  1. I just stumbled onto your site. I love it! It’s nice to ge tfood tips from a real person! Someone who loves cooking/food.

    I especially liked the post about fish being on the banned list at work. An you had a meeting…too funny. You are certainly in my favorite list now.


    Comment by Laura — May 25, 2008 @ 5:06 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment