Going Green at the Orinda Farmers’ Market
Spring greens offer shoppers an array of possibilities, from making salads to creating vegetable cups and rolls. For inspiration, look for bunches from spinach to spicy-tasting dandelion greens.
There are different varieties of spinach with savoyed (crinkled) or smooth leaves. All may be eaten raw in salads and smoothies, cooked in soups or in the classic spinach and artichoke dip.
Bok choy goes by many other names, including Chinese white cabbage, Chinese chard cabbage and Pac choi, but all refer to a non-heading member of the cabbage family with crunchy, thick white stalks and dark, green leaves. Look for the mild baby bok choy early in the season.
Kale, a nutrient-rich vegetable, has been around since Roman times and is deserving of the title, Super Food. The leaves of both curly and flat leaf varieties are hearty with a nutty, earthy flavor and fibrous stems which are perfect in stir fries or diced into soups. National Kale Day was established in 2013.
Kale chips are easy to make and delicious. Swish kale leaves in a sink of cold water. Remove and dry on paper towels. Pull leaves from stems and cut into small pieces using kitchen shears. Place pieces in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and massage in with your fingers. Sprinkle with herbs, garlic or onion salt, curry or cumin. Spread kale evenly on a baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leaves shrink and are crisp around the edges.
The best dandelion greens arrive in early spring when the leaves are soft. Their bitterness is easily mellowed by cooking or wilting.
Cast iron cooking is a favorite of mine. All types of greens, with eggs nestled in the mixture, make a quick and delicious meal. Blanch 4 cups chopped kale, spinach and dandelion greens in a pot of boiling salted water for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain well. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch cast iron pan over medium heat. Add vegetables and cook until wilted, then create 4 shallow nests in the greens and crack an egg into each one. Season with salt and pepper and top each with 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan or feta cheese. Cook uncovered until the whites of the eggs are set, or about 5 minutes.
Note: There are plenty of eggs at the Orinda Farmers’ Market. Visit Stueve Organic Farms, a multi-generation family farm from the Central Valley. The distinctive bright yolk color and superior taste and texture are results of the hens grazing on fresh pasture.
The Orinda Farmers’ market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Orinda Way in Orinda Village. For more information visit www.cccf.org, facebook.com/OrindaFarmersMarket and Instagram @OrindaFarmersMarket or call the market hotline at 925.322.6228.
Barbara Kobsar can be reached at Barbara@cotkitchen.com.