Plant Start Season
The first three hundred customers at the U-District farmers market last Saturday got a free plant start. I was so excited when I read the email that I arrived early. I met my two friends, and we walked to the Managers tent and inquired. It's a new tent on the north side of the market.
I knew I wanted cilantro from River Farm. One of my friends also choose cilantro, the other chose a Black Prince tomato start from Rent's Due Ranch.
Just down from the Manager's tent is Let Us Farm--back this week from winter break. The word is, the north end is the busiest end of the market. "It's where most of the people come in," farm Steve Hallstrom told us. At the very end (or beginning) of the market, Let Us Farm got a little bigger space this year, so business should be good for farmers Steve and Cecelia.
|Steve Hallstrom of Let Us Farm|
I knew arugula was the vegetable I wanted as soon as I saw it. The rest of the dish and the dinner would revolve around that. For most people, planning meals revolves around the choice of meat, but for vegetarians and those who love vegetables, the best way to decide the what's-for-dinner question is to pick a vegetable that appeals to you and then dream up what you want with it. Every dish can be a supporting character. And with fresh seasonal vegetables you don't need a lot of spices and just a few herbs.
The leeks and shallots both looked so good Steve suggested, "Why not use both?"
I ended up getting both but they each have a mild flavor that can easily be overwhelmed. I was pretty sure I wouldn't use them together. The young worker at the booth asked what I planned to do with the arugula.
"It's coming together now," I'd said. Sno-Valley mushrooms and probably purple potatoes from Olsen Farms--I knew one thing, this was going to be a main dish."
It's just a mix and match from the farmers' market. Isn't that the way good food should be?
And what's not to love about shiitaki mushrooms? They're good for your immune system for one thing, and they impart a savory flavor. Sno Valley Mushrooms are also one of the best buys at the market. But if the price still seems steep, you can grow your own or buy seconds.
If you're on a food budget, ask a farmer if they have any seconds for a lower price, sometimes seconds are kept behind the booth.
Before we left, I got a baguette. Our Saturday meal wouldn't be complete without crusty bread from Tall Grass Bakery.
|I decided on the leek over the shallots.|
Potatoes, Leeks, Mushrooms, and Arugula
4 small potatoes (waxy like Yukon, white, red or Yellow Finn potatoes)
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces, mushrooms sliced
1 leek, washed well and sliced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 to 2 tablespoons Mama Lil's Peppers or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces chicken style seitan, cut into bite-size pieces
1 bunch arugula, roughly chopped
Fresh orange or lemon juice to taste
Sea salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 400F. Wash and dice the potatoes. The smaller you cut them, the faster they roast. Place potatoes in a baking dish and toss with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Roast for 25 minutes or until slightly crispy. Lightly sprinkle fleur de sel or sea salt over them when done.
While potatoes cook, remove tough mushroom stems and slice the tops. Dry fry (in a frying pan without oil) until they start to become limp. Add leek, garlic, Mama Lil's Peppers and seitan. Stir and cook until leeks begin to brown. When potatoes are done, add potatoes and chopped arugula to the mushrooms and leeks.
Stir cover and cook for a few minutes, until arugula wilts. Drizzle with orange or lemon juice. Add sea salt to taste.