Fill up on beautiful farmers’ market food

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 26, 2016

By Deirdre Parker Smith

The mushrooms are back! Upsidedown Farms needed that rain we got last Friday, and they watered their logs several times.

Ron and Paula Herion were sweating at last week’s Salisbury/Rowan Farmers’ Market, selling birdhouses, potato baking bags and a few other crafts. They picked 12 pounds of mushrooms and expected to pick more Sunday. Some will be dried before sale.

The fresh shiitakes have a rich, meaty flavor and a firm texture. We tried them cut up and sauteed in a little butter in our Saturday scrambled eggs, thanks to the chickens at Two Pigs Farm. I added cilantro from Lee’s Flowers and Vegetables.

We also picked up some lovely French radishes and fresh pea shoots from Lee to add to salads, now my daily lunch.

David Correll knows how to set up a tempting produce table. Son Talton added to the appeal, playing his violin. The Lys and Correll have items you don’t find at every stall, such as the pea shoots, fresh garlic, several kinds of bok choi and a lighter version, tatsoi. Correll had fennel, leeks, kohlrabi and the most gorgeous red lettuce you’ll see.

Thomas Family Farms was back with more pork, including some great-looking chops. They are going to take a couple weeks off to regroup and do some work at the farm. They’ve been surprised by the great response at the market.

Early market-goers are faithful and use their time to visit with friends who are also shopping and to talk with the vendors before they get too busy. We agree that this social hour makes market shopping even better and we share suggestion for using the items we’ve bought.

Fading D Farms had a line first thing, with samples of their delicious Italian-style cheese. The Sapore impressed a friend who owns a winery and travels occasionally to France. It does pair nicely with a dry red wine. We had cabernet franc with ours. The dill and garlic pograsso was fantastic with some of The Bread Basket’s fresh and fabulous challah. I know, I’m off flour. I only had two pieces. Emma Martin had her usual selection of fresh loaf bread, fruit breads, the popular chocolate zucchini bread, granola, pies and more. She’s so generous that she’s going to try some recipes that are sugar free for me. Her granola is some of the best I’ve ever had, but honey is off my list, too.

Fading D also had some water buffalo meat, which is quite lean and flavorful — it tastes almost exactly like beef. We got ground beef and made meatballs with a mushroom soup and cranberry sauce gravy. We had it with lightly sautéed asparagus from Correll Farm and later put it on top of some of the Napa, which wilted nicely and added a fresh taste to the meatballs.

OBX Seafood was doing quite a lot of business, as well. We tried mahi mahi, which is a firm, steaky fish that does well baked. It has a mild flavor that we enhanced with a crust of onions, mayo and a few panko bread crumbs. A swipe of mayonnaise keeps fish moist and acts as glue for whatever you want to put on top — green onions, capers, nuts, crumbs of any sort.

We made a salad of Napa cabbage, carrots and the tops of Corrells spring onions with a rice wine vinegar and oil dressing.

Kristine Turco had another table full of goodies — cookies, pies, brownies, muffins, pound cake. I waved to her, but did not dare go any closer.

Miller Farm was selling strawberries as fast as they could put them out. This week, they were riper and very sweet, a real treat all by themselves. No sugar or poundcake needed.

We cooked a Boston butt from Thomas Family Farm in the slow cooker Sunday and will have it tonight with some of those shiitakes sautéed in a little olive oil and butter, plus some Swiss chard we picked up. Everyone suggests using garlic with the chard, but the lemon zest and juice, along with garlic that we used on spinach a couple weeks ago is going to be our go-to prep for bright greens.

If you are trying to eat a Mediterranean diet, vegetarian, Paleo or just have to skip flour and sugar, the Farmers’ Market is a good place to shop. The freshest food needs just a minimum of preparation, no heavy sauces and you have to eat it fast before it starts to deteriorate, or before your next trip to one of the markets nearby.

Mahi Mahi with Mayo and Onion

2 pounds mahi mahi (serves 4)

1 lemon, juiced

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup chopped green onion


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Rinse fish and put in baking dish skin side down. Squeeze lemon juice over fish, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix mayonnaise and chopped onion and spread on top, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Napa Cabbage Salad

1/2 head Napa cabbage, sliced or chopped into bite size pieces

1 large carrot, grated

2 green onions, white and green parts chopped

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1/3-1/2 cup olive oil or vegetable oil

1/2 tsp. dill seed

1/2 tsp celery seed


Freshly ground black pepper

Put cabbage, carrot and onion in a bowl. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together vinegar, oil, dill and celery seed, salt and pepper. Pour over cabbage mixture and toss. Chill for one hour, then serve.

Shiitake Mushroom Sauté

1 pound sliced shiitake mushrooms

3 Tbsp. low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp herbs, such as rosemary, oregano or thyme, or a blend (optional)

Chop garlic and let it sit for 5 minutes. Remove stems from mushrooms and toss in a freezer bag to use for stock in the future.

Heat broth in a non-stick skillet. When broth begins to steam, add mushrooms and cover for 3 minutes. Remove cover and cook mushrooms 4 more minutes. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and herbs, if using.

Serve on pasta, potatoes, on top of a burger, a steak or any other meat. Or serve as a main course.

The Salisbury/Rowan Farmers’ Market is at the corner of West Fisher and South Jackson Streets in downtown Salisbury and is open 8 a.m.-noon on Saturdays.

Wednesday hours for the market start May 25, 8 a.m.-noon in the same location, and 4-7 p.m. behind the Gateway building (Chamber of Commerce) on East Innes Street.

Deirdre Parker Smith/Salisbury Post Red lettuce makes a nice contrast to the Napa cabbage, and next to it, kohlrabi. In back is fresh garlic and fennel.

Deirdre Parker Smith/Salisbury Post Red lettuce makes a nice contrast to the Napa cabbage, and next to it, kohlrabi. In back is fresh garlic and fennel.