Farmer’s Market Tips from Chef Matt
Spring has arrived in Portland which means in addition to May flowers. Farmer’s Markets are popping back up as well! You can find Chef Matt most Wednesdays at the Shemanski Park Portland Farmer’s Market but these tips from Chef will serve you well no matter where you are shopping.
Q: What are the best farmer’s market items to buy in May in Portland?
Chef Matt: In early May look for the tender shoots of over-wintered vegetables. As the soil temperatures are warming the plant send up shoots to race for the sun. These shoots are sweet, spicy and tender. They are best eaten raw or lightly grilled and marinated. Look for shoots of the following around Portland; turnip, broccoli rabe, mustard greens, kale and bok choy. This is a short-lived season as they will be harvested quickly, and other crops will go in for the summer. #covercrop
Q: Are there any farmer’s market items that are especially affordable at this time of year?
Chef Matt: Items that have survived the winter and are now being harvested to make way for the summer’s planting will be abundant and inexpensive. They will also be packed with nutrients from their slow growth over the winter. Look for harvests of both leafy greens and the last of the season’s root vegetables. Watch for what chef Matt calls “wood core”. When the root vegetables bolt and shoot up flowers they also develop a hard, firm core that can be inedible.
Q: What items are particularly over-priced that consumers stay away from?
Chef Matt: Every year there will be a new high demand item. Remember Kale? Each consumer will have to make their own decision as to the importance of having this in their diet.
Q: What are some spring dishes you can make with the above ingredients?
Chef Matt: ‘Flowering mustard green and Kale rabe, lemon preserves and hazelnut’ the sweet spiciness of the rabe balances nicely with the acidic preserved lemon and the toasted nuts provide a robust note.
Q: Do you have any other general advice for farmer’s market shoppers?
Chef Matt: Taste and sample as much as you can. Put yourself out there and meet a farmer!