Fresh-from-the-dirt food (at your farmers’ market)

Early summer is a wonderful time at the farmers’ markets.

by Joanne Henning Tedesco — 

Recently, I had a wonderful morning at the farmers’ market. The aroma from the vine-ripened fruits and vegetables took me back to the hours spent pulling weeds and picking vegetables when my brothers, cousins and I were kids. Our average pick ratio was about four for the basket to one for our mouth. We just wiped off the dirt on our Levi’s and enjoyed the fruits of our picking.

Looking back, I am sure the dirt had lots of vitamins and minerals in it because we rarely got sick. Of course, the fact that we did not pick the fresh produce until ripe and that we ate no junk food made a difference too.

The selections are abundant, and in addition to fruits and vegetables, you can usually find wild-caught salmon, organic grass-raised beef, tamales, bread, cheeses and many other wonderful choices.

Following are recipes I hope you will enjoy.

Spicy Rice


  • 1/2 cup raisins, plumped in boiling water
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed


Combine all ingredients, except butter and garlic in medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, stir rice only once (too much stirring will make rice gummy), cover and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes. Just before serving, melt butter with garlic and pour evenly over rice. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Broccoli Braised with White Wine


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 to 6 cups fresh broccoli florets (about 2 pounds)
  • 1-1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste


In a heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet, heat the olive oil until a light haze forms over it. Remove from the heat and stir the garlic in the hot oil for 30 seconds. Return to moderate heat and toss the florets in the oil until they glisten. Add wine, salt and pepper; simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Cover the skillet and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender. To serve, quickly transfer the florets with a slotted spoon into a heated bowl or deep platter. Briskly boil the liquid left in the skillet over high heat until it has reduced to about 1/2 cup and pour it over the broccoli. Yield: 3 to 4 servings.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Ingredients for Citrus Poppy Seed Dressing:

  • 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Ingredients for salad:

  • 8 ounces (1-1/2 cups) strawberries
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 6 ounces baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted


For the dressing, zest the orange and measure out 1/2 teaspoon. Juice the orange in a bowl and measure out two tablespoons. Combine the 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, two tablespoons orange juice, vinegar, sugar, oil and poppy seeds in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Whisk or shake to combine.

For the salad, hull the strawberries and cut in quarters. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and slice. Combine the spinach, strawberries, cucumbers, chopped shallots and cheese in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with the almonds. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

Pea Salad


  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • 4 cups fresh shelled peas (from about 4 pounds peas in pods) or 1 pound frozen petite peas
  • 1 bunch radishes, trimmed, halved, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 2 cups fresh pea tendrils, coarsely chopped, or pea sprouts (optional)
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste


Heat small skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and toast until aromatic and slightly darker, about 2 minutes. Cool; grind finely in spice mill. Whisk lime juice, honey and cumin in bowl. Gradually whisk in oil; stir in dill. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Cover and chill. (Make this prior to using, or can be made one day ahead.) Bring to room temperature to use. Cook peas in boiling salted water until almost tender, about 5 minutes for fresh (2 minutes if frozen). Rinse under cold water; drain well and transfer to a large bowl. Add radishes, feta and dressing; toss. Add salt and pepper. If using pea tendrils or sprouts, divide among salad bowls; then add salad. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.


Source: Joanne’s recipe box.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 3, June/July 2012.

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