One of the reasons I said yes when asked by the Ottawa Farmers’ Market to participate in their Farmers’ Feast Challenge was that I love how it pushes me to try new ingredients, new ideas and often new techniques. The idea is simple: several times a year, a mystery basket of ingredients arrives at my doorstep, and I spend a few deliriously happy days hunkered down in my kitchen cooking with all the farm-fresh goodies. While this month’s basket contained items that were mostly familiar to me, I did enjoy learning about purslane and tomatillos, neither of which I’ve worked with before. You can enjoy the same kind of experience simply by visiting any farmers’ market. They’re sure to have on display new-to-you varieties of produce and the farmers themselves are great sources of information on how to store and prepare the food they’ve so carefully grown. One thing that amazed me (and as a regular farmers’ market shopper I really should know by now not to be amazed by this) about the fruit and vegetables in this month’s basket was just how fresh and full of flavour everything is. You really can taste the difference.
As in the past (check the Constantly Cooking archives for previous Farmers’ Feast posts), I’ll be sharing all the results of my experimentation in the days ahead. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for a cantaloupe recipe – it was so perfect and ripe, we just ate it ‘as is’. Here are the goodies I’ll be working with, and the farms that produced them:
- Kiwan Gardens: Romano beans, eggplant, purslane
- The Beet Box: Hispi cabbage
- Warner’s Farm: Italian (blue) and Shiro (yellow) plums
- Needham’s: Sweet corn, yellow beans, red potatoes, cantaloupe
- Just Farms: Tomatillos, green tomatoes, hot pepper, artichokes
- Fromagerie Les folies bergères: sheep’s milk cream cheese
I’ll add links to the recipes below as each one gets posted. I hope you find some inspiration for your next trip to the Farmers’ Market.