Thursday, May 20, 2010

Webb City Sentinel Column - 5/21/10

This time of year is always fun because you never know what you’ll find at the market. It’s almost like Christmas, except you don’t have to unwrap the surprises.

Tuesday we entered into the season of abundant new potatoes. I saw red, white and fingerling potatoes. New potatoes are typically only available at the farmers market. Because they are harvested before maturity and are not cured, they are just too fragile to stand up to much handling. And even at the market you may notice the skins of the red potatoes are torn. The skin is very thin and easily scuffed. In fact one way to tell if they are indeed new potatoes is to rub the skin – if it’s a new potato, the skin should feather off easily.

A new potato is best used immediately, but can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Other new tasty treats at the market – edible pods peas, kohlrabi, dill, and leeks.

Fridays are great days to buy herbs because that’s when most of our plant vendors are in residence. And now is the time to buy herbs. If you want to make your own pesto later this summer, you need to get your basil plants in the ground now. Actually, I have better luck planting basil in a very large clay pot rather than in the ground. Fresh basil is terrific in almost any dish using tomatoes as well. It’s hard to beat sliced local tomatoes drizzled with a mixture of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a touch of local honey and topped with chopped basil. Hmmm, can’t wait for July! Basil is just one of many herbs you’ll find right now at the market.

We have a new plant vendor coming today – the Carl Junction FFA is selling hanging baskets. They’ll be next to Fredrickson Farms.

Lunch today is spaghetti, tossed salad, garlic bread, chocolate fluff and drink for $6. There is also a luncheon salad available. Webb City’s own Gospel Strings plays between 11 and 1.

Next Tuesday, Cooking for a Cause benefits Greyhound Pets of America. I should dispel a mistaken report made by a member of the media last week who said last week’s group raised $6,000 at Cooking for a Cause. Would that it were true, but it’s not. Typically groups raise between $150 and $300 at Cooking for a Cause. Not bad for a few hours effort, but nowhere near $6,000. The benefit meals for this year are already fully booked, so I guess the participating non-profits find it worthwhile. So if you’re looking for an inexpensive meal that supports a good cause, drop by the market any Tuesday between 11 and 1. Where else can you enjoy a meal for no more than $3.50 while being serenaded by our wonderful musician, Rob Pommert?

Here’s an easy make-ahead recipe that takes advantage of what’s available at the market:

New Potato Salad

1 1/2 pounds red new potatoes, sliced 1 inch thick
1 teaspoon lemon zest plus 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as a combination of chives, parsley and thyme
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Put a steamer basket in a large pot with a lid. Fill with water to just below the basket and bring to a boil. Place potatoes in basket, reduce to a simmer, cover and steam until tender, about 10 – 12 minutes. Toss occasionally while steaming.

Put zest and juice in a bowl. Gently add cooked potatoes, season with salt and pepper and toss gently until covered. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Toss cooled potatoes with herbs and oil, season as needed.

Can be stored for up to 1 day covered in a refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.