What’s up at the Farmers Market this week
By Sue Davis
For The Salisbury Post
While walking through the Salisbury Farmers Market last weekend I enjoyed the colors, the energy of the vendors as they set up and the shoppers who came early to select their meats, breads and produce. Mixed in with all the summer vegetable colors, the color of purple was present on many tables ó not blueberries or blackberries but were purple peppers, potatoes, chocolate cherry tomatoes, basil and eggplants. David Correll even warned that this week Correll Farms might have a few boxes of purple brussells sprouts.
Purple peppers taste like all bell peppers but add color to any dish. The chocolate cherry tomatoes at Cress Farms are a refreshing snack. Purple potatoes are perfect for potato salad or soups because the chunks of potato do not fall apart or mash easily. The inside of the potato is as purple as the skin, so your potato salad will be the color purple.
When I think of purple food, I think of eggplant, even though eggplant is not always purple. Its color can be violet to black or alabaster white to red-orange. Despite the richness in color, eggplant scares many people. Most say it’s bitter to the taste, or bland or rubbery. Russ Parsons, author of How to Pick a Peach, says without qualification: “Eggplants are not bitter.”
Eggplant does have an earthy overtone which combines with other flavors as the co-star of any dish, not the star. It simply soaks up flavors from whatever it is combined with.
Eggplant is an ancient dietary staple which plant genetics has changed to the point many varieties of unusual colors and shapes exist. Unfortunately, there is less variety in flavor among eggplants than in colors and shapes. The greatest difference is in how thick the skin is and how seedy the eggplant is. These are the variances which guide you on which eggplant to select for your use or cooking style. Except for the blackest of eggplants, the skin color fades during cooking.
Eggplant is quite fragile. Select an eggplant that is heavy for its size. This is a sign of freshness. Feel the skin, which should be taut on the round ones; long thin ones should have softer skin but not wrinkling. Eggplant should be stored in a plastic bag with a crumpled piece of paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Place the plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper. This will keep eggplant market fresh for about a week.
Eggplant can be peeled or not, depending on your preference. The peel is slightly tough. If roasted, the peel may split during roasting. If you plan to fry eggplant, salt both sides of the eggplant slice, let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, pat dry and fry in olive oil. One easy dish, adapted from Russ Parsons is to grill eggplant.
Cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch slices.
Brush both sides with each slice with garlic-flavored or chili-flavored olive oil.
Grill until the eggplant is tender, brushing it with the flavored oil while cooking
As slices are done, place on a plate, top with fresh rosemary or other herbs. Continue layering slices until all are cooked.
Serve with grilled onions and Tomato slices
Available this week
What is not available at the market is Mike Miller of Miller Farms. He broke his leg on Friday. Erica may be extra tired when you see her, but she promises to keep things growing until Mike is back on both feet.
Cheryl Goins of Pottery 101 will give a pottery wheel demonstration 8:30-10:30.
Fruits and vegetables
The produce vendors have local tomatoes, corn, squash, large sweet onions, spring onions, peppers, green beans, cabbage, cucumbers, brussels sprouts, and many varieties of eggplants. Correll Farms has the greatest assortment of potatoes, cabbages and eggplants. It’s a great time to try something new while so many varieties are available. Cress farms hopes to have wax beans this weekend. Eagle Farms hopes to have half runner beans this week. Half runners are flavorful white-seeded, four-inch pods good for snapping. They also have Derby Beans, a 5 inch to 6 inch bean that is very straight and stringless. These beans are good for freezing and canning. Country Greenhouses has a few plants still available along with a nice assortment of vegetables.
Lee Ly, a new vendor to the Farmers Market, features an aromatic selection of Asian herbs and fresh vegetables including baby bok choy, beets, carrots snap peas and yard long beans in the next few weeks. Lee will help you with how to create a stir fry. She also has icicle radishes and red radishes.
Landis Gourmet Mushrooms has several varieties of Oyster Mushrooms for you to try. Cook these buttery mushrooms with a little butter and herbs to compliment many vegetables and meats. Ask for directions on the best way to cook them and for foods that they complement.
Flowers, Plants and Herbs
Hanging baskets and flowering plants are still available from several of the vendors. Bluebird Acres Farm has cut flowers and Lee Ly has cut daylilies. Both Bluebird Acres Farms and Lee Ly say sunflowers will be available very soon. Dawn’s Greenhouse has fresh cut herbs and plants available along with some container gardens of both herbs and vegetables.
Breads, Pasta, Pastries, Meats and Eggs
The Bread Basket is planning to bring a wheat grinder to the Salisbury Farmers Market on June 20 and June 27. The Bread Basket baked goods are made from unrefined flour product with hand-ground wheat bread flour. Learn what a wheat berry looks like and how flour is ground. In addition to very light wheat bread, cinnamon bread and seven grain bread, The Bread Basket has zucchini bread and both cherry and berry pies.
Simply Good has pies, cakes, muffins, cookies and loaf breads of all types. Pick up a cinnamon bun for breakfast. Posh Pasta has many bread and cake choices. T&D Charolais Beef has a variety of cuts of top quality beef. Wild Turkey Farms has a number of cuts of pork as well as sausages. They have grass fed beef and chickens as well. The Bread Basket and Wild Turkey Farms have fresh eggs.
The market is open Wednesday and Saturday from 7 a.m. until noon at the corner of Bank Street and South Main Street in downtown Salisbury.
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