Last Sunday I took a walk through my local farmers market. We’ve had a mild winter and warm spring up here in the northwest and I wanted to see what was fresh. Among the many flower stalls, fish mongers, and bakeries were the first signs of spring. I found a plethora of spring greens including mizuna, arugula, and mache. Herbs were in abundance - fresh chives, sorrel, mint, and chervil, to name a few. There were a variety of new potatoes as well including dutch babies, red-skinned, and fingerlings.
I also found some young, tender leeks. We don’t eat leeks as often in America as they do in Europe. It’s a shame because they are a delicious vegetable; an elegant member of the onion family. Their flavor is more subtle and sophisticated than their strong cousins. Leeks are also an excellent source of vitamin c, iron, and fiber.
Inspired by my experience, I started to envision a spring menu. The lovely leeks, fresh spring herbs and greens, baby potatoes...the menu practically wrote itself.
Here’s my farmers market-inspired spring menu:
Braised Leeks (recipe below)
Mixed Spring Greens with Fresh Goat Cheese
Steamed Baby Potatoes with Mint Butter
Herb-Crusted Rack of Spring Lamb
8 small to medium leeks
1/2cup finely diced onions
1/4 cup finely diced carrots
1/4 cup finely diced celery
2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup chicken broth
4 slices of French bread, optional
kosher salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To prepare the leeks, trim off the dark green stalks. Without cutting entirely through the root, slit the leeks lengthwise and rinse under cold water to remove all of the dirt.
Blanch leeks for about 30 seconds and shock in an ice bath. Cut through the remaining tip of the leek and remove the roots.
Next, melt the butter in a small sauté pan. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook over medium low heat until the onions become transparent, about 10 minutes. Spoon the cooked vegetable mixture into a medium-size casserole dish (one just large enough to accommodate your leeks). Place the blanched leeks on top of the vegetables and then add the chicken stock, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover with the French bread (delicious when the dish is finished) or foil. Bake until leeks are tender, about 35 minutes.
To serve, lift off the toasted bread, and spoon the leeks onto plates. Garnish by spooning the chopped vegetables over the leeks. Serve with the toasted bread. Serves 4.
Have you visited a farmers market yet this year? What inspired you? Please share your favorite spring dish or menu idea!
sounds delicious! our farmer market open this wednesday!
I love fresh veggies and fruits and almost every kind too! Farmers markets are great places to find these also I only wish I could grow my own as well but working full time and living in an apartment don't make that possible.
Farmers Markets are my favorite way to shop for the best freshest produce...and more! Thanks for the great article. Your insights are very inspirational!
As always, I am inspired and now... hungry! I think we will have to walk to our local market today!
I love getting produce from the farmer's market, because you know whatever you buy is fresh and in season and local. produce that is shipped is picked before it is ripe, packaged dirty and with bugs, transported, easily spoils the minute after it is "ripe" enough to eat (fruit should ripen before it is picked) and doesn't taste as good!
Our favorite soup recipe is Potato Leek Soup - I've made it for years and am glad to see leeks are more available now than they used to be. Email me if you would like the recipe - it's delicious!
We are headed to the farmers market this weekend in tulsa. I can't wait there is something nice and wholesome about the farmers market
All - It's wonderful to read about how many of you make the farmers market a family affair. It's great way to get kids involved and trying new things! Chef Erin
Our Farmers market has grown by leeps and bounds. It is THE place to be on Saturday morning. I love the variety of items and the people watching. We have on lady who shares her recipes aloud while she is selling her veggies. Better remember your paper and pen, she never writes anything down. People line up for blocks for their favorite veggies, I have one kid in each line so that I wont miss out on anything. Thanks for the recipe, I will be adding it to my summer dinner menus.
I love being able to support local farmers and the produce is so much better than the market.
This is lovely - thank you! I am thrilled to not only get to go to the Farmer's Market weekly, but also participated in purchasing a CSA thorugh a local farm. We receive our first box of produce tonight at the Farmer's Market. Yes - support your local farmers and their families!
i read something about leeks the other day and i did not really know what they were. But now with this recipe i will have to try it! the farmer market is by far the best place to get honest produce at good prices
Farmer's Market means fresh vegetables and getting advice from the people who know food so well - the ones who grow it!
Our farmer's market opens today and I cannot wait to go shopping! My kids love walking around and it's a great place to alk about colours and counting!