The Greenmarket this weekend was at that awkward, adolescent stage of late spring. The veggies of its early days were becoming gangly and overgrown, while the bountiful, beautiful produce of summer still looms in the distance. Nevertheless, those Union Square vendors had a few tricks up their sleeves, and managed to surprise and impress us.
High on the surprise-o-meter were strawberries from Phillips Farms in New Jersey. We suspected greenhouse growing or black magic, but our farmer friend informed us that some early season strawberries are coming out now. Samples were on the sour side, and hardly Gaviota-quality
Ramps were pretty much out of the picture, but Mountain Sweet Berry Farm aimed to set a trend with a sign proclaiming, "Spring Garlic: The Ideal Ramp Substitute." Green garlic is the same plant as regular old garlic, simply a few months before the bulb materializes. Mariquita Farm has some nice recipe suggestions. Based on pungency, though, green garlic is a better substitute for scallions and chives than for ramps, which tend to be relatively mild.
Greens of all varieties are out now, and especially enticing are those at Keith's Farm of Westtown, New York. Sorrel looks like spinach but tastes exactly like rhubarb--mouth-puckeringly sour with a healthy freshness. Another customer advised us to wilt some with chicken broth and milk, then run the concoction through a blender for a creamy soup.
Lovage smells just like celery, but has more leaves. The same guy told us he eats it raw in salads, but this recipe for halibut, mussels, fennel, potato and lovage looks a bit more exciting.
The same guys who sold us burdock root a few weeks ago were carrying chives budding with strange pink flowers. We asked how on earth one was supposed to eat them, and he gave us some to eat raw. Still kind of at a loss as to what to do with these, especially when each teeny petal packs the punch of an entire bulb of raw garlic.
But the best discovery of the day was kohlrabi at Norwich Farms, which came in a pretty, red variety as well as the standard green. The only kohlrabi memories that come to mind are from childhood, when certain cooking-challenged parents used to steam it into a mushy, stringy mess. But eaten raw, it was quite tasty with a nice, crunchy texture--much like a sweet, cabbage-y turnip. You can also steam or sauté the greens.
Spinach Salad greens Radishes Early strawberries Sugar snap peas Alliums
Strawberries Blueberries Cherries
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