Lettuce, and ramps, and beets, oh my!

Though it was a rainy day, I made my first spring trip to the local farmers’ market near Dupont Circle.  I try to go every other week or so through the spring, summer and fall, though I never quite make it out during the winter.  I absolutely love farmers’ markets as they remind me of Sundays after church with my mom when I was little.  We would buy a whole roasted chicken (I did already profess my loved of roasted chicken, right?), a fresh baguette, and then stand at the kitchen counter and pick at it when we got home.  So simple, so delicious.

These days, the farmers’ market poses a bit of a dilemma for me.  I absolutely LOVE looking at all of the gorgeous produce, farm-made cheese, fresh eggs, and colorful flowers. I would probably make myself a bed among them if someone would let me.  I want to take everything home with me, but I just can’t.  Though I have The Boys to feed, I still live alone and would feel so terrible taking home so much deliciousness and then not have time to make or eat all of it.  It’s a good thing my self-imposed market budget (which I definitely busted today) keeps me in check.  The other side of this dilemma is that although it all looks amazingly delicious, I actually don’t always know what to do with all of the vegetable gems I find there.  All of that is about to change.

I’m planning a series of posts where I take one or two fairly unusual vegetables each week and cook/use them.  Some of them I might be used to working with and some, while I may have had them at a restaurant or friend’s house, might be fairly unfamiliar.  Usually I am not a big fan of experimenting and posting, but since I know there are at least a couple of you out there who’ve had the same dilemma, I figure it’s worth writing about potential failures.

So here’s the scoop on today’s loot:  I spent $29.35, though $8.75 of that was on French pastries that have already been consumed.  There goes my calorie count for the day!  So really I only spent $20.50 on produce.  Not bad.  Here’s what I got…

The beets are getting close to the end of their season, so hopefully you all will be able to take a cue and snag some in the next couple of weeks before they go away.  Asparagus and ramps are right in prime season and I am super excited about them.  Ramps are a wild leek with a great oniony flavor.  I have never cooked them before, so this will be an adventure.  Check out my friend Sebastiaan’s recent blog post, In defense of the ramp, about cultivating these elusive vegetables.  The ones I bought today are actually foraged from the wild in West Virginia, so the farmers don’t have to worry about over-harvesting their patch.  The lettuce with pretty, yellow, edible flowers was just too good to resist.  Perhaps I’ll have some of that with my (Basil Vinaigrette) this week.  And then of course there are squash blossoms.  It might still be a little early in the year for these babies, but they just looked so beautiful that I couldn’t resist.  These ones came with little zucchinis still attached, so I’ll be making good use of the whole shebang.

I look forward to awesome suggestions from you, dear readers, about how I should prepare all of this.  And then, of course, stay tuned for the results!

And for those of you who like looking at produce as much as I do, here are a few photos from this morning…

   

purple radishes

pac choy

pom pom mushrooms

rainbow chard

wild ramps

zucchini with blossoms

lettuce with edible flowers

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4 thoughts on “Lettuce, and ramps, and beets, oh my!

  1. Now I can’t wait for our market. It will be open in May, but the produce is all shipped in. Local produce will take some time yet. Steve’s friend Roberto, the Chicago chef, stuffs the squash blossoms.

  2. When I taught in Henderson County in Western North Carolina, there was a “Ramp Festival” every year…Road Trip possibility? They had a contest to see who could eat the most ramps and the father of one of my students was a frequent winner.

  3. Love your blog! You are more adventerous with our food than I am 🙂

    – Andrea, Spring Valley Farm and Orchard

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