The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 25, 2012

Salad days: Garden greens arrive early

By Mike Pound
Globe Columnist

WEBB CITY, Mo. — Area growers have been harvesting a heap of fresh lettuce, green onions, asparagus, radishes, broccoli and garlic.

Eileen Nichols, who heads up the Webb City Market, said the mild winter has made a normally vibrant spring crop even more abundant this year. Fresh greens began arriving at the Webb City Winter Farmers Market several weeks ago, and she said traditional mid summer treats, such as tomatoes, should be arriving in force within the next few weeks.

One green that is plentiful at this time is Swiss chard, Nichols said.

“It is just packed with nutrition. It tastes like a green, but is more often used to cook with, rather than eating raw,” she said.

Bok choy, also known as Chinese cabbage, is a favorite in many stir fry recipes. It’s also currently available at the Webb City Farmers Market, as is the turnip-like kohlrabi, which has been likened to a broccoli stem or a cabbage heart. Pea tops, which, as their name implies, are the tops of pea plants, are market fresh now and like almost all spring produce can be added to salads and other dishes.

The Webb City Farmers Market officially kicks off its spring, summer and fall schedule on Friday, and will move from the Webb City Clubhouse back to the large covered pavilion in King Jack Park. The market will open at 11 a.m. Friday and run until 2 p.m. Following the opening day, the market will be open from 11 a.m. to 2  p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays. Starting on May 12, the market will also be open from 9 a.m. until noon on Saturdays.

Along with the spring produce, vendors will be on hand selling farm fresh eggs, meat, tomatoes and other vegetable plants, baked goods, fresh honey, coffee, flowering baskets and planters. Nichols said free hot dogs will be served up Friday. Music will be provided by the Clayton Family from Stockton, and master gardener Dale Mermoud will pass out free dogwood and red plum tree seedlings.

Included below are three recipes that take advantage of the current crop of fresh produce at the market. Items that are available at the Webb City Markets have an asterisk by them.

 

Wilted lettuce

1 head of loose leaf lettuce (more or less)*

1/2 cup sliced green onions*

6 strips of crisp bacon (save the grease)*

Salt

Wash leaf lettuce well, shake off excessive water, roll leaves into a tube and slice into strips, salt to taste. Wash and cut green onions into coins, using both green and white parts, until you have about 1/2 cup. Add to lettuce. Fry six strips of bacon really crisp and drain (save the grease), crumble over greens. Heat the grease to smoking and pour over greens. Serve immediately.

Source: Marilyn Thornberry

 

Egg salad with a spring twist

8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled* (Note: If you have ever tried to peel a farm fresh egg you know that it’s virtually impossible. The membrane is too tightly attached to the shell. It takes about a week for it to loosen up so this recipe calls for leftover eggs purchased at the market the previous week.)

2 tablespoons prepared mustard

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped green onions*

1 tablespoon radishes, grated on large holes*

Salt and pepper to taste

Grate eggs on the large hole of the grater. Add other ingredients. Adjust to taste. Garnish with paprika or parsley if desired.Place on a bed of fresh greens and enjoy as a sandwich, cracker topping or lettuce wrap.

Source: Eileen Nichols

 

Swiss chard frittata

1 bunch Swiss chard*

2 tablespoons cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil or clarified butter

1 medium onion, sliced thinly

4 garlic cloves, chopped

8 large free-range eggs*

1/3 pound grated havarti, optional

Handful of grated Parmesan cheese, optional

1/4 cup milk or water

Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash the Swiss chard, but do not dry all the way and chop the stems off the leaves. Coarsely chop the stems and keep separate from the leaves. Coarsely chop the leaves. Heat olive oil or clarified butter in a 10-inch oven-proof pan. Cook the onions and chard stems over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minutes. Add the chard leaves and season lightly with a pinch of sea salt and pepper and saute until wilted. Whisk eggs together and add cheeses and milk. Stir in the chard mixture and blend well. Add extra oil or butter to the pan if it seems dry. Put the egg-chard mixture back in the pan and place in the oven for about 50 minutes until puffed and golden. (If you’re making minis, spoon the mixture into greased muffin tins and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until puffed and golden.) Serve immediately.

Source: Eileen Nichols