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THE FRONT BURNER

FLS reporter Katie Thisdell serves up news on local food finds, tales from home cooks and inspiration to help you have fun in your own kitchen.

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In season: March

The Free Lance-Star launches a new section today, called Farm & Garden. Look for it in your first Friday paper each month. You’ll find stories and information on local gardening and farming issues, along with this monthly feature on what to look for in area farmers markets. For more vegetable-specific ideas on how to cook seasonal produce, take a look through the archives of our “What’s Coming Up” feature that ran in the Food section last year.

March: Most area farmers’ markets won’t open until late April. This is the end of winter, when hardy greens, winter storage vegetables and the very first peeks of spring greenery can be found. Here’s a sampling of what you can expect to find:

Swiss Chard

Collard Greens

Garlic scapes and green garlic

Green onions

Kale

Leeks

Some lettuces

Ideas for the kitchen:

-       Make “kale chips.” Trim kale leaves from the thick stems and chop into bite-sized pieces. Toss with a little bit of olive oil and salt and spread on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the edges of the leaves are brown, but not burnt. These are a little like potato chips.

-       Quickly blanch a bunch of Swiss chard or other hardy green and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Whir up the greens in a food processor with typical pesto ingredients (pine nuts or walnuts, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper) for a cold-weather version of this summer spread.

-       Garlic scapes are the tall, curling stalks that garlic plants send up around this time of year. They are usually cut off by gardeners, but they are edible. Use them as you would scallions, either raw on salads or sautéed in other dishes.

Look for next month: Asparagus

 

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