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Lusty Greens

December 5, 2018

Last week I wrote about the winter markets. In response, auroradesign suggested I check out Lovin’ Mama Farm at the Schenectady Greenmarket.

Usually, my turnaround time on taking action from reader responses is pretty slow. I am running such a long backlog of places I need to visit, and things I need to eat, it’s not even funny. However, I just happened to find myself at the Greenmarket this past Sunday looking for winter vegetables to beef up a pot roast.

Well, that, and to get the kids something to eat after Sunday school. Although the main reason we were at the market was to pick up a Dutch Desserts chocolate tart to bring over to a first night of Chanukah celebration. The tragedy was that Dutch Desserts is no longer at the Sunday market.
The triumph was a small purchase from Lovin’ Mama Farm.

I’ve had frank conversations with farmers about farmers markets in the past, and they are a double edged sword. There’s not too much that small farmers can do to compete on price, since farming is financially challenging in the first place. So one concern is that the farmers market has become a beauty contest.

There are some legitimate concerns about conditioning consumers to look for the prettiest produce. Ugly produce is delicious and nutritious as well. And like anything else, the pristine specimens can be few and far between.

Televised chefs and published food writers bear some of the blame. Bloggers and instagrammers are culpable too.

That said, I probably shouldn’t gush about the beauty of these turnips.

Turnips don’t get the love they deserve. And I have to confess that I think I might actually love the greens more than the roots themselves. But these small, bright white turnips I’m sure will be delightful when braised in a little bit of chicken stock, which I’ll then cook down into a savory glaze.

However, it was the generous bunch of deep leafy green turnip tops that really commanded my attention. I mentioned my love for the greens to the woman behind the table, and we lamented the fact that there are some people out there who simply dispose of this delicious part of the plant.

My technique for turnip greens is the same one I use for radish greens. But it works with any kind of bitter leafy green. I melt some anchovies in olive oil with a little garlic and crushed red pepper. Then I saute the greens, reduce the heat, and cover. From there, the greens braise until they are tender. The lid is removed, the liquid simmered away, and if desired finished with a drizzle of great olive oil.

Sometimes I’ll toss these with pasta. If you have some sausage, you can include that in the beginning as a great flavor base. Or you can combine this with white beans for a heartier side. But these I simply ate on their own as a side with that pot roast I had mentioned earlier.

Winter. It’s coming. Thankfully, we’ve got some great produce to make it through the season.

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