Open Season at the Farmers’ Market

market haul may 15 edit My local farmers’ market opened for the season last week. As usual, I was powerless against the charms of the ruffled chard, the elegant spears of asparagus, the colorful knobby carrots, the tender salad greens. New at the Twin Springs stall was a bin of “kaleidoscope scapes,” the stalks of the plant that in the fall yields the ever more popular kale sprouts. A dozen eggs, a half-gallon of milk, and a small container of cheese curds also found their way into my bag, along with a couple of quarts of the first strawberries and a few other staples.

kale scapes

Kaleidoscope “scapes,” from the plant that brings you kale sprouts in the fall.

veg frittata

Eggs, sautéed greens and fresh cheese curds make a nourishing vegetable frittata.

How would you put these beauties to use? Here is some of what I did:

* Asparagus: some roasted and topped with grated parmigiano, some steamed and spritzed with olive oil and lemon.
* Curly kale: sautéed with oil and garlic and added to a pot of pasta e fagioli.
* Carrots: some in soup, some in a batch of Ragù alla Bolognese (along with an onion and 3 lbs of ground meat from the market that did not make it into the shot).
* Eggs and cheese curds: frittata with sautéed kaleidoscope scapes (additional scapes were used in a pickling experiment, outcome TBD).
* Spring lettuce: tossed salad.
* Strawberries: some appropriated by my daughter to make a strawberry compote for ice cream; the rest, along with milk, got turned into this.

chard potatoes

With the two bunches of chard and a few potatoes, I made bietola con le palate, one of my all-time favorite side dishes, one I’ve been eating for as long as I can remember. You might not think so, but potatoes ~ the creamy yellow kind ~ and silky sautéed chard make excellent mates. Serve this with roast chicken, sausages, or a frittata. Enjoy leftovers for lunch, with bread on the side and maybe a fried egg on top.

chard potatoes pan

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Cooking classes: I’ll be teaching two cooking classes this weekend at Stonewall Kitchen, in York, Maine. Join me on Friday, May 15, or Saturday, May 16, for two Italian menu classes. We’ll be making fresh pasta, seasonal vegetables, and, for dessert, biscotti. Check my Events page for details.

Abruzzo Culinary Tour: Only two spots left on our September culinary tour in Abruzzo. Join us for an unforgettable week in this incredible, unspoiled part of Italy.

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Makes 6 or more side-dish servings

Bietola con le Patate | Swiss Chard and Potatoes

This is a classic Italian side dish from Abruzzo, one that I grew up eating and still love. I happened to use rainbow chard that I bought at the farmers' market. The bright red, orange, and yellow stems turn a little muddy in color and stain the potatoes, but that doesn't affect the flavor of this dish. To keep the colors clearer, use standard Swiss chard. I love this as a side to roast chicken or roast salmon. On "meatless" nights I serve it with a selection of good cheeses and crusty bread.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound yellow potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, scrubbed
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1 pound Swiss or rainbow chard (2 bunches), thoroughly rinsed and ends trimmed
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • Generous pinch of hot pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

Put the potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover by 2 inches. Salt the water generously and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender (I spear one with a cake tester; if it slides in easily, the potatoes are done). Drain and let cool. Peel the potatoes and cut into 2-inch chunks.

Cut the stems from the chard leaves, and then cut the stems into 2-inch pieces. Stack the leaves, a few at a time, and cut them crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips.

Heat the oil, garlic, and hot pepper (if using) in a large saucepan set over medium-low heat. When the garlic starts to sizzle, press down on it with the back of a wooden spoon or silicon spatula to release its fragrance (but don't let the garlic brown). Add the chard stems and cook, stirring now and again, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the leaves by the handful and cover the pot to let them wilt (you may have to do this in batches). When all the chard has been added and wilted, stir in the cooked potatoes and sprinkle with a little salt.

Cover, reduce the heat to low, and let the vegetables stew in the juices released from the greens, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until the chard has turned dark and is completely tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt if needed. Serve hot or warm.

9 Responses to Open Season at the Farmers’ Market

  1. Rosa Jeanne Mayland May 12, 2015 at 3:18 pm #

    Beautiful produce and succulent dish! I love farmers’ markets and seasonal as well as local vegetables.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way May 12, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

    I love Swiss Chard. That is a special dish I make at Thanksgiving and Christmas — it’s become a tradition. I really like the addition of the potatoes. Thank you for sharing.

    • Domenica Marchetti May 24, 2015 at 8:46 am #

      Belated thanks, Marisa. That’s the nice thing about Swiss chard. It has a long season, young and delicate in spring and heartier in fall and winter. I love it in soups, too.

  3. ciaochowlinda May 13, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

    I’m so glad that farmers’ markets are springing back to life again, but even more happy that I can have my own backyard produce. I’m even trying my hand at strawberries this year, and hoping the birds don’t get them all. Your swiss chard and potatoes dish is a delicious reminder of childhood dishes my mother would prepare.

  4. Sippitysup May 13, 2015 at 10:40 pm #

    You’re giddy I can see, read, and appreciate that! XOGREG

    • Domenica Marchetti May 24, 2015 at 8:51 am #

      Thank you, Greg. I can’t help buy empty my wallet at the farmers’ market.

  5. Frank Fariello May 16, 2015 at 8:56 am #

    Planning to hit the Bethesda market tomorrow morning. So happy that these markets are back in business—it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter….

  6. Carrie May 22, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

    I am powerless against such beauty, too. Seeing that strawberries are available by you gives me hope that we’ll get local ones very soon. Cheers!

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