A winter farmers market initially looks deserted, but it has plenty of unusual root vegetables and varieties of dark leafy greens. The apples and pears overflow their crates. Some markets, such as New York City, also serve goat cheese, yogurt, cured and cuts of meats, milk, honey, bread, eggs, grains, and dried beans. Heirloom carrots in purple and varieties of potatoes are visual reminders of whole food’s diversity.
When visiting a winter farmer’s market, search for the unexpected vegetable. Pick up the strange, knobby root vegetable–the unfair of them all. Write down the name and buy it. Once at home research the new vegetable and a recipe to use it. With this method, I’ve discovered rutabagas are savory substitutions to potatoes in stews. Turnips–with an unfair bad reputation–roast well with chicken. Thinly sliced beets make a sweet topping to homemade pizza with ricotta cheese. Celeriac root mashed with potatoes have a mild celery taste.
Shredding some root vegetables is winter’s version of fresh, crisp and light–characteristics missed from summer produce. They’re excellent garnishes or side dishes to many cold weather, slow-cooked meals. While visiting Union Square’s Greenmarket in New York on a mild cold day, purple kohlrabi and watermelon radish are brought with a few bosc pears.
Kohlrabi has a smooth, bumpy outer texture. Its similar to a starchy version of cabbage, and it has a sweet flavor. Watermelon radish has a beautiful pink flesh with a pale green and creamy white outer surface. It has a milder sharp taste compared to its ruby red radish we commonly see in grocery stores. Instead of roasting these vegetables, they were shredded with a pear and lightly dressed with a lemon vinaigrette.
The salad is a bright winter version of coleslaw. Serve it with sauté fish, roast meat, puree soups or use it as a garnish for tacos. Winter farmers markets have a colorful selection of root vegetables not found in neighborhood grocery stores. With a willingness to try new vegetables, a winter farmers market is a fun and creative place to find unexpected flavors to include with traditional recipes.
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