Monday, March 5, 2012

Winter Produce

Remember the Aesop fable about the Ant and the Grasshopper? 

The grasshopper danced the summer away, while the ant industriously collected and wisely stored grains of food in order to make it through the winter.  Well March kinda feels like that - we're still diligently working our way through the winter produce, waiting for the exotic new Spring fruit and vegetables to hit the shelves as the weather warms.

Don't despair though.  There's still plenty of interesting produce to be found at Iovines and other fruit and veg merchants at Reading Terminal Market.  You've just got to ferret around a bit and be creative with your ingredients.

One of the first harbingers of Spring are ramps, but we can't expect those at earliest 'til the end of April or beginning of May.  In the meantime, check out the dandelion leaves which Iovines keeps in stock all year round.  Yes, you read right - dandelion leaves...

According to Butch at Iovines, the dandelions are at their best early in Spring (early April) when the leaves, which are great used in a salad in place of arugula, for example, are at their sweetest. 

If dandelion leaves aren't your thing, then keep your eyes peeled for the first signs of Boston Lettuce and other salad greens. 

We buttonholded Butch this week and asked him what he likes to eat at this time of year and he shared his signature salad, which tends to include fruit, salad greens and cheese. 

He suggests starting with arugala, throwing in a handful of spinach, halve some red grapes, chop up an apple, throw in some walnuts and top with crumbled feta or some grated Italian cheese.  Butch eschews dressing in favor of plain olive oil and a dusting of salt and pepper. 

Sounds good to us. 

There's still a sea of greens to be had in the Market.  Look out for the mountains of kale, brussels, bok choy and salad greens stacked 5ft high at Iovines.

I think I'll still give the dandelion leaves a miss.

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