Recipes for Farmers’ Market finds

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 8, 2018

My husband has to hold me back when we go to the Salisbury/Rowan Farmers’ Market. As soon as I walk into the horseshoe of tents and see all the beautiful vegetables and other goodies, I want to buy everything.

“Oh, wow, look at that lettuce! It’s gorgeous!” I’ll say. Or “Don’t we need some Napa cabbage, and how about cilantro, do we have enough of that?” We will buy strawberries every week through the season, but when I want to pick out some bok choi, bok choi shoots, pea shoots, cabbage, asparagus (very short season), Swiss chard, broccoli, spinach and leeks, he nags.

“When will we have time to eat all that?”

True, true. There’s just two of us, and he likes his meat and rice or pasta or potatoes a lot. I want to try all kinds of things, but he’s the chief cook these days and I have to come up with a recipe if it’s something we haven’t used before. It usually works out.

This weekend, we did buy plenty of beautiful stuff, and we made plans on the fly.

Lee Ly’s bok choi bolted in the warm weather last week, so she had shoots topped with tiny yellow flowers. She said you could use them in a stir fry or a soup or a salad. Her Napa cabbage was not enormous — just the right size for two.

Yorke Reynolds of Two Pigs Farm had a new item — chicken sausage with lemon grass, cilantro and green onions. Three of our favorite flavors. So, that had to come home with us.

David Correll’s broccoli would go well with the lamb shoulder chops we got last week from Two Pigs, and he still had asparagus, which is good with anything. Plus, he had two wee bundles of rhubarb, which he’s never tried. With our new batch of strawberries from Miller Farms, ideas began to form. We picked up a quarter of a lemon pound cake from How Sweet It Is, and then rounded out the visit with a beautiful lettuce mixture from Twin Oak Farms.

So here’s what we did.

All that sausage, in bulk form, needed, was a good browning. My husband cut up a cucumber, some radishes and green onion, and we served the meat with the toppings on a Napa cabbage leaf. A lime squeeze gave it  fresh flavor.

Meanwhile, we used our favorite rice blend, with brown and wild rice, and added sautéed bok choi shoots to it to serve with the wraps. The lime was good on that, too.

For dessert, he cooked a strawberry rhubarb sauce to go over the lemon pound cake. Oh, my goodness. It was a perfect match of sweet and tart. I think we’re hooked.

One thing you must remember about lettuce: Wash it thoroughly. It grows in the ground, low to the ground, and can be gritty. Tear your lettuce into bite size pieces, fill a large bowl with cold water and add the lettuce on top. Push it into the water and swish it around well, then let it sit for about 10 minutes. Using your hands or a slotted spoon, remove the lettuce from the water. DO NOT dump the water over the lettuce into a colander, or all the grit you just got rid of will be back. Dry the lettuce in a salad spinner or by moving it around on two clean dish towels. Discard the water.

Below are a couple of ideas for the delightful fresh foods available this time of year.

Simple Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

2 1/2 cups chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tbsp. grated lemon zest

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup sliced fresh or frozen unsweetened strawberries

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

In a saucepan, combine rhubarb, water, sugar, lemon zest and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cook uncovered, over medium heat until rhubarb is soft, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in strawberries, lemon juice and cinnamon. Cool. Makes 3 cups.

If using frozen rhubarb, measure rhubarb while still frozen, then that completely. Drain in a colander, but do not press out liquid.

We did not have a full 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and the sauce was still delectable.

Bok Choy Stir Fry

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

3 green onions, sliced, green and white parts

1 1/2 cups asparagus

2 cups cremini or shiitake mushrooms

3 baby bok choy (or bok choy shoots)

3 gloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 tsp. fish sauce

Freshly ground black pepper

In a wok or large sauté pan, add the oil, and just before it smokes, add the bell peppers and asparagus and stir for about 2 minutes. Add the white part of the green onions and mushrooms and cook two more minutes.

Add the bok choy, garlic, soy sauce and fish sauce and sauté until just wllted. Add pepper and serve.

You could also add sliced water chestnuts at the same time as the onions and mushrooms.

Serve with sautéd shrimp, rotisserie chicken or tofu to make a complete meal, or serve as a side dish.

Red and Green Salad with Strawberries

1/2 head red leaf lettuce

1/2 head green leaf lettuce

2 green onions, sliced (green and white)

1 cup strawberries, sliced

1/2 cup feta cheese

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper

Wash the lettuce well and spin dry in a salad spinner or with two kitchen towels. Add green onions, reserving some of the green tops for garnish, strawberries and crumbled feta cheese. Whisk together the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Add salt and pepper and toss with the salad.

You can add whatever fresh herbs you like to this salad. A sprinkling of basil over the top would be nice, or some oregano.

Roasted Broccoli with Lemon and Parmesan

1 head broccoli, cut into florets

2 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil

Juice and zest of half a lemon

1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. After cutting broccoli into florets, save the stalks for use in a salad later. Spread a little oil on a baking sheet, then place broccoli on sheet and sprinkle and toss with remaining oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until broccoli is tender, but not mushy. The florets will begin to brown. Remove from oven and toss broccoli with the lemon zest and juice and the parmesan cheese. This is a great side dish for grilled foods or a healthy party appetizer.