With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, and heavy grey skies looming outside, it’s a perfect time to warm yourself up with some comforting Irish colcannon.
An inexpensive side dish, colcannon gets it name from the Irish cál ceannann (“white headed cabbage”) and combines mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage. While it pairs really well with sausages and stew, I’d happily eat a bowl or two of it by itself!
Our President Jen has tried, tested, and heartily approves of local author Sharon Hanna’s Kale Colcannon recipe from The Book of Kale, which the author describes as her idea of “sex in a pan!” Why not pick up the ingredients fresh at this Saturday’s market and give it a try?
You can get a copy of The Book of Kale here, at New West’s Black Bond Books, or at Chapters.
Going into market day, I try to plan as much as possible. I research the website, price out as much as I can, and plan our meals and shopping list accordingly. We only have $40 to spend, I want to make sure we’re spending it wisely, getting everything we need, and hopefully a couple extras on the list too.
But sometimes, plans just don’t go according to plan.
Because the products at the farmers’ market are so reliant on weather and crops, you’re not guaranteed the same stuff week in and week out. What you loved last week may not be there the next week. Something new may be stacking those tables instead – throwing your plan completely off kilter.
And that’s the adventure of it.
For us, purslane was the culprit this week.
It wasn’t on my list, and before last Thursday, it wasn’t even in my vocabulary. But when I was under the Zaklan Heritage Farm tent picking up my 2 for $5 greens, and saw those pretty leaves of purslane, I asked owner Gemma McNeil for details.
It’s a fast-growing succulent that’s super high in Omega-3 fatty acids and contains vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. It’s grown all over the world, and adds a lemony flavour to your salads.
She had me at Omega-3.
You know how sometimes when you discover something you’ve never heard of before, suddenly you’re hearing about it everywhere? This weekend my son and I went into the valley for a family birthday party. I packed along a lunch salad, and when my mom saw the purslane atop all the greens, she told me the old farm garden was full of it.
She had never tasted it until she took a bite of my salad. She liked it!
A few hours later we were in Chilliwack, and my great nephew’s grandma was giving me a bag full of freshly picked zucchini, cucumber, carrots, and pears (I don’t turn my nose up at free food). She told me she’d normally have beans ready to go too, but they got sacrificed in her effort to blow out the “annoying” purslane.
Yes, folks, although super healthy, and, in my opinion, super tasty, many farmers look at it more as a weed than a crop. Lucky for us, though, a few vendors at Royal City Farmers’ Market treat it as the latter.
Yet another market-great discovery.
This week’s loot:
4 red peppers: $5.90
1 zucchini: $1
1 lb. green beans: $3
1 bag each of kale and pizzo mustard greens: 2 for $5
1 head red-leaf lettuce: $3
1 oz. basil: $1
1 bunch purslane: $2
1 bunch cilantro: $2
2 cucumbers: $2.40
1 bunch Italian onions: $2.70
3 corn on the cobs: $3
1 handful each of mint and rosemary: free
1 bag tortilla chips: $3
1 container pico de gallo: $5
Every week we try to incorporate at least one full market meal into our meal plan. This week, we did stuffed Mexican peppers – no meat – with a side of fresh tortilla chips and pico de gallo (made that morning!!!), and a mix of market greens. It was a bit out of our comfort zone, as we are very much meat eaters in this house. I had been wanting to try to make stuffed peppers for quite sometime, but all the recipes I saw were filled with ground beef, and while we are meat eaters, we’re not so much beef eaters. So when I saw a recipe with quinoa and black beans, and saw that we could incorporate several ingredients from the market, and we had all others on hand, I thought it was perfect.
We altered the recipe a bit. Instead of baking the peppers in the oven, we grilled them on the barbecue. We also grilled the corn, something my husband, the chef of the house, had been wanting to experiment with for quite some time. Both added a really nice, smoky flavour to the meal. And instead of the nutritional yeast, we opted for shaved parmesan. We made 4 peppers, and had leftover filling for two lunch salads.
In total, we spent $39, which means we’ve got an extra dollar to spend next week.
“Daddy, why are you putting dead flowers onto mommy’s salad???”
Oh child, those aren’t dead flowers, nope, those are microgreens, and you better be liking them because they’re a new must-have staple in our market-buying groceries. (Note: Microgreens do not look like dead flowers; this was the observation of a three-year-old.)
When I walked past the Nutrigreens tent at last week’s market, I looked at my list and sure enough microgreens were there, but only on the maybe side. That meant that only after we got our necessities for the week purchased could we splurge on the maybes.
We are working with a budget after all; we’ve got to stick to the plan.
The maybes are things we don’t necessarily need but that may intrigue us, something we have yet to try, something that may only benefit one of us, not all three, or something that’s more a treat than a necessity.
Microgreens are like the premies of baby greens, seedlings loaded with mega nutrients. I’d seen them at the market before, but had never tried them. At $5 for a 300-gram container, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to commit; I thought I could find better value in veggies elsewhere.
But I got to chatting with the vendor, he told me if I got the plastic container instead of a bag, he could stuff more in there, and if I relocated them to a tupperware container at home with a damp cloth (I used paper towel) on both the bottom and top of the container they’d stay fresh – lasting up to 12-14 days without going bad.
He handed me a flower.
Market goers, I know you already know this, but for those of you new to market buying, this is a thing – we eat the produce before we buy.
The flavour that bursted in my mouth with that tiny sample, it was something I don’t think I’ve ever tasted in my greens before. So loud and prominent, like a kid jumping around in my mouth shouting “Look at me! Look at me!” Even my husband, who is a bit more reserved with his salad explorations, was wowed by the flavour kick – putting it atop our salads and into his tuna sandwiches for an added twist.
However, based on the amount we liked them, there’s no way they were going to last 12 days; by week’s end, there’s was enough for maybe two salads left.
This week’s loot:
Aged havarti cheese: $11
Half dozen eggs: $3
Head of red spiky leafed lettuce: $3
2 yellow zucchinis: $1.50
1 red cabbage: $2.80
Bunch of green onions: $2.50
1 lb fava beans: $3.00
4 carrots: $3.50
Cluster of rainbow chard: $3.00
1 giant cookie: $2.00
Just like last week, we had a plan, but unfortunately a few things needed to be altered on the fly. When we’d heard Vale Farms was coming to town, we’d hoped to acquire lamb, but discovered lamb wouldn’t be available until September. A quick brainstorming session had us purchasing a half dozen eggs and the award-winning aged havarti from Golden Ears Cheese for a quiche-inspired market meal.
Market ingredients: Quiche = 4 eggs, 2-cups cheese, ~3/4 cup green onions, ~1 cup rainbow chard; Salad = red lettuce, red cabbage, ruby streaks mustard greens from 2 markets ago, microgreens, green onions, scapes from 3-4 markets ago, and broccoli from 2 markets ago.
A huge thumbs up from all three of us!
Carrots were on the necessity side this week. I wanted to compare between the bulk bags of carrots we usually get and the freshly pulled from the ground carrots offered at the market. As suspected, the market carrots did not disappoint. As soon as I took that first bite, it was a throwback to my childhood years growing up on the family farm, which after 30 years was sold last year. It’s a taste you don’t get in bulk: not just crunchy, but earthy and moist too.
Unfortunately, though, at $3.50 for a bunch of four, though bulky, the flavour was not enough to justify the expense.
Carrots are the easy, go-to vegetable for both my son and I. I, alone, eat at least two, sometimes three or more a day. Four carrots barely gets us through a day, let alone a week.
Sadly, the carrots will be more of a treat than a staple.
Tally for the week:
• 4 full-plate lunch salads
• 2 lunch side salads
• 7 dinner 1/2 plate salads
• 2 dinners with grilled zucchini and green beans
• 1 breakfast smoothie (with greens)
• 3 microgreen-infused tuna sandwiches
• 1 dinner with sautéd green beans (from last week’s loot)
• 1 dinner with quiche (plus 2 servings left over)
• 2 snacks of carrots
• 1 dessert cookie split between two happy boys
With the weather being somewhat crummy this week, we ate more dinner salads and stove-prepared meals than grilled vegetables, which meant that by Monday, we were running low on our greens, and still had quite a bit of zucchini left. I was able to off-set the greens with a small harvest of arugula and spinach from our patio pallet garden. We still have green beans left over from last week, and scapes from three markets ago that still look and taste fantastic. In fact, I think they’re getting even more garlicy with time.
This week we went 30 cents over budget. After all the necessities and a couple maybes were purchased, we had $1.70 remaining. My husband’s eyes drifted to the Artisan Bakery stand.
“Surely, we could splurge,” he suggested. “It could be a treat,” he offered.
After all, farmers’ markets aren’t just about the veggies, you know!
Okay, so let’s be honest here for a second shall we. I am not a master of the kitchen, not even close. Before my husband, I lived on omelettes and grilled cheese sandwiches. But that’s not to say the kitchen doesn’t fascinate me. I grew up with parents who both are fantastic in the cooking realm, I have always been drawn to recipe magazines, and when on maternity leave a few years ago, after being gifted a subscription to Cook’s Country by my pops, I embarked on a 12-month challenge that had me trying my hand in the savoury world once a month. And you know what, I totally I didn’t poison us! Quite the feat. Still, though, unless it’s a birthday, or some other special sort of event, it is rare that I am the one with chef’s apron on in our house.
Well folks, that is about to change.
A new challenge has been steeping in my brain for about a month now – and it’s all about the fresh, local, awesomeness of the Royal City Farmers Market. Every market day, I have committed to seeking out the strangest, unique, most oddball ingredient I can find, and working a recipe from it.
First up: kalettes.
Have you heard of kalettes? I hadn’t, not until I showed up at Ossome Acres’ booth on the morning of Feb. 6 and saw these little puffs of purple-greens. Hey, what are those, I asked. Why, kalettes of course – the love child of kale and Brussels sprouts. W’oh! Who knew?
Although the brainchild of this hybrid was developed 15 years ago in Europe, it wasn’t debuted until 2010 and only hit North American soil two years ago. And still, you’d be hard pressed to find it in grocery stores, said Noella Oss of Ossome Acres, a Chilliwack farm that prides itself on standing out with its crops. “I’m pretty sure we’re the only ones growing it out here.”
A mix of nutty and sweet, chewy and crunchy, these guys are good raw, roasted, blanched and steamed, said Oss. They’re huge in fibre; it doesn’t take much to fill a belly. In fact, one $4 bag got us five meals worth.
And the flavour, “is so nice and sweet right now because of the snow and frost,” said Oss. “They’re full of concentrated sugars.”
So, how did I use them?
I threw a few rosettes into a kitchen sink soup, lightly roasted a bunch on the barbecue with sea salt oil and balsamic vinegar, (I think they may even be better than kale chips!) and put together this sweet and salty salad from www.kalettes.com – they EVEN have their own website!
Happy kalettes eating my friends.
Recipe: Kalettes Salad with Apples and Bacon
5 oz Kalettes
1/8 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt, divided
1/8 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 apple, cored and sliced
2 slices bacon
1 onion, sliced
1. Slice stem end from Kalettes, allowing some leaves to fall loose and leaving centre leaves intact. In salad bowl, add Kalettes and drizzle with vinegar. Sprinkle with 1/8 tsp. salt and toss to coat. Set aside for 10 minutes.
2. In a skillet over medium, add 2 slices of bacon. Cook until brown and slightly crunchy. Remove bacon from pan, leaving grease, and drain on paper towel. Add sliced onion to pan and sauté over medium high until carmelized, about 10-15 minutes. When bacon is cool, crumble into small pieces.
3. In a measuring cup, add extra virgin olive oil, 1/8 tsp. salt, and pepper to taste. Shake or stir to combine dressing. Add the sliced apple, bacon and onions to bowl with Kalettes. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
Celebrate Earth Day this month by making your kitchen its most sustainable! Animal products are one of the areas you can easily make a big impact. I’ll admit it, chicken breast is pretty tasty, but by buying a whole chicken not only are you able to take advantage of every part of the bird, you can also be sure you’re making the most economical choice for your grocery budget.
This recipe has quickly become a new favourite of mine. With a little planning (and not a lot of prep) a roast chicken dinner can be achieved even on a weeknight!
Show your body some love this Valentine’s day by adding a few beets to your market bag. As a storage crop this is one of the few veggies we are lucky enough to find a market stalls all year long. Here’s the shortlist of reasons why nothing beats the humble beet, especially in your morning smoothie;
They add a bright pop of colour to any recipe and where there’s colour you’re sure to find lots of antioxidants. Betalains the phytonutrient unique to beets has incredible antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Show your liver some love with beets! A side from bitter greens, beets are one of the best vegetables for liver detox – helping to flush out toxins and process hormones more efficiently.
Adding a serving of veggies to your morning meal is a great way to boost your fibre intake for the day and keep your cholesterol levels in check.
They are incredibly versatile! Beets are delicious grated raw into salads, oven-roasted, pureed into soups. They can even help to add a touch of sweetness along with their amazing colour to baking.
Red Velvet Smoothie
1/2 medium beet, washed peeled*
2 medjool dates
raw cacao powder
3/4 frozen strawberries
3/4 almond milk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp hemp seeds
*For this recipe I like to keep my beets washed, peeled, chopped and ready to go in the freezer
1. Combine all ingredient in a blender starting with the beets, strawberries and dates.
This salad is the perfect compliment to any New Year’s resolution whether it’s to eat more veggies, be more organized with your meal prep or trim your waistline. Unlike other salads filled with fragile greens, a base of carrots means it can be dressed ahead. Plus, the addition of lentils and walnuts give this salad a healthful hit of fibre, protein and omega-3 fats, so it’s sure to keep you satisfied. Go ahead, make a big batch and enjoy it for lunch or as a side for dinner all week long.
Quick Tip: Skip the canned lentils to save money and avoid BPAs from can linings. Make lentils in a big batch and freeze to easily add them to all your recipes. Freeze the cooked and cooled lentils on a cookie sheet before transferring to a freezer bag, so they don’t freeze in an unmanageable clump.
Hearty Carrot Lentil Salad
• 2 large carrots, grated
• 1 cup cooked or sprouted lentils
• ½ cup walnuts, toasted
• 1/2 cup raisins
• 2 green onions, chopped
• ¼ cup chopped cilantro
• ½ tsp cumin
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• Juice of a lemon
• 1 tsp maple syrup
• ½ tsp salt
• 1 clove garlic
Crush garlic with the heel of your knife. Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a jar or bottle and shake vigorously. Set aside to let the flavour of the garlic infuse.
In a large bowl combine the carrots, lentils, walnuts, raisins, onion, cilantro and cumin and toss until well combined. Drizzle your desired amount of dressing ensuring to strain out the garlic. Serve.
Last week I could not believe my eyes when when I found a pantry staple I had written off as a “must buy imported” at the Red Barn Plants & Produce stall. Ken was offering up a Maple Ridge grown variety of my favourite rhizome… Ginger!
Ginger packs quite the nutritional punch for such a humble root. Not only does it boost powerful immune boosting properties, but it calms tummy troubles like nausea even that associated with motion or morning sickness. This rhizome also works as a potent anti-inflammatory and has been studied for its effectiveness in relieving the pain associated with arthritis to boot.
The pungent market root is so fresh that even the skin can be grated right into this recipe. Plus is its spicy flavour is the perfect compliment to October’s staple squash varietal: pumpkin. Ken from Red Barn suggests saving the shots in your freezer to add an extra zing to your next cup of tea. The fresher the ginger the more potent its effects, so be sure to stock up at the last market of the season because you can’t get any fresher!
Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup fresh pumpkin puree*
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp molasses
1 inch fresh ginger, grated (approximately 1 tbsp)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp sea or rock salt
1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
water, milk or nut milk
In a medium bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin, maple syrup, molasses, spices, baking powder and salt and whisk until pumpkin has reached a smooth consistency. Add in spelt flour a 1/2 cup at a time, thinning with enough water to reach a consistency that will easily form pancake rounds in your frying pan (approximately 1 cup).
Heat 1/2 tbsp of butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Spoon 1/4 cup portions of the batter into the hot pan. A spatula may come in handy for smoothing out the batter as it can be quite thick. Flip once the sheen from the batter has disappeared and the underside is gold brown and cook for another few minutes. Continue until all batter is cooked adding more butter if necessary.
Top off with butter, maple syrup and toasted pumpkin seeds and enjoy!
*For simple instructions on making puree from your market pumpkin check out Smitten Kitchen’s how to here.
Double the batter when making your Sunday breakfast and store the extras in the freezer for convenient home-made toaster pancakes all week long!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, that’s right, peach season tops my list of best seasons of the year. Stone fruits like cherries, peaches and plums, are original BC superfoods, that unlike broccoli, you can actually get excited about eating. Their range of deep colours like brilliant reds and sunny oranges signify their antioxidant punch – simply put they help us too stay looking young and promote good health. Plums and their unique antioxidants especially, have been shown to help protect against memory decline. Stone fruits are also full of fibre : great for improving digestive health, and are super hydrating: essential for a midsummer heat wave.
Take full advantage of the peaches and other stone fruits popping up at almost every produce stall the market features with this quick recipe that makes the perfect breakfast, dessert or snack!
No-Bake Gluten Free Stone Fruit Crisp
4 cups stone fruit of your choice (I used a mixture of cherries, apricots and peaches)
1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
1 cup almonds
1 cup hazelnuts
3 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
2 Tbsp room temperature butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp sea or rock salt
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 200⁰F. Place nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, shaking the tray every 5 minutes to avoid burning.
Wash and slice fruit in to bite-sized piece and mix together in a large bowl along with the honey. Spread evenly into a medium-sized casserole dish and set aside.
Combine all of the crisp topping ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until you have reached a very grainy consistency. Top off the fruit with the crisp topping, pressing the mixture down with a spatula to smooth it out evenly.
This dish works well as a sweet breakfast or a no bake dessert, but if a crumble hot from the oven is more appealing pop it into a 325⁰F oven for approximately 45 minutes and top off with extra thick strained yogurt.
Has the July heat got you sweating over the thought of turning on your oven? Beat the heat with this week with a fresh take on an ethnic classic: my twist on traditional Pad Thai that can easily be modified to suit any vegan pallet.
The unconventional use of smoked tofu in this recipe is a great way to satisfy any protein craving. Even if you’re not a tofu lover I suggest you seek some out and give it a try, you may be pleasantly surprised. Worried about genetically modified soy? Go for organic soy as GM ingredients cannot be certified organic in Canada.
Opting for raw veggie noodles instead of the traditional rice noodles makes for a light, refreshing and super hydrating entrée – great for a supper on the patio or packed up for lunch!
Zucchini Pad Thai
1 Medium Zucchini
1 cup Bean Sprouts
2 Medium Carrots
½ Red Pepper, sliced
½ Smoked Organic Tofu, cubed*
2 Tbsp Cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp Thai Basil, chopped
1-2 Spring Onions, sliced on the diagonal
¼ cup Roasted Peanuts
½ Lime, reserve the other ½ for the sauce
*Option: substitute tofu with 2 eggs beaten with 3 drops of tamari & 3 drops sesame oil and cook like an omelette over medium heat, slide on to your cutting board and slice into thin strips.
3 Tbsp Peanut Butter
1 Tbsp Tamari
1 Tbsp Fish Sauce (if vegan use 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar instead)
juice of ½ Lime
1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 clove Garlic, crushed
1 inch Ginger, thickly sliced
For an extra kick: 1 tsp Thai Red Curry Paste or Sriracha Sauce
Start by preparing the dressing to allow the flavours to develop. Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously. Because of the consistency of the peanut butter and curry paste a little hand whisking may be necessary to make a smooth dressing. Keep the ginger and garlic in large pieces, so they can easily be retrieved after they have infused their flavour. In the event that you love the bite of raw garlic and ginger chop it up finely and bring on the heat!
Use a mandoline with a grater attachment to grate the zucchini into “noodles”. If you don’t have a mandoline you can simply chop the zucchini lengthwise into thin slices and then cut those slices again into thin strips that resemble noodles.
Place the “noodles” in a medium sized bowl and begin to layer the remaining ingredients on top; bean sprouts, sliced pepper, grated or mandolined carrots, tofu (or egg), basil, cilantro, spring onion and peanuts. Drizzle with satay sauce, serve with a lime wedge and enjoy!