Produce spotlight: Microgreens

Farmers' markets are the perfect place to try new foods and for several reasons. First, they give growers, bakers, and artisans the opportunity to sell interesting, uncommon foods that might not sell as well in large grocery stores. Second, they allow customers to ask questions about the products -- how they're grown, where they're from, and how best to prepare them. (Many stands also offer samples and recipes!) Third, that direct interaction with customers gives sellers immediate feedback, allowing them to customize their offerings from week to week, focusing on what customers request instead of what supermarkets (often unrealistically) demand.

A couple Saturdays ago at Chapel Hill Farmers' Market (By the way, how did I get so lucky to have a biweekly market directly across the street from me?!), I bought a box of microgreens from Open Door Farm's stand. They looked a little like alfalfa sprouts, and I was drawn to their delicate, tangled stalks in hues of eggplant, mustard, ivory, and ruby. According to Open Door's website, "microgreens are basically the harvested seedlings of vegetable and herb plants," but unlike sprouts, they are grown in soil. Open Door Farm offered a few different mixes of microgreens, but I went with the rainbow mix, a combination of arugula, amaranth, beets, broccoli, cabbage, chard, collards, kale, and kohlrabi. What a variety! 

After some online research, I found a few ways to use the rainbow microgreens in my own kitchen and took photos of the results throughout that week.

Here, colorful microgreens garnish a bowl of black bean soup sprinkled with crushed tortilla chips and drizzled with chipotle sour cream.

They added a crunchy layer in a sandwich wrap filled with sliced apples, cheddar cheese, and whole-grain mustard.

Microgreens gave an extra flavor accent in my favorite brunch sandwich (inspired by Lititz, PA's Tomato Pie): melted brie, scrambled egg, and raspberry jam on toasted sunflower bread!

Microgreens don't stand up well to heat, so they're best used in cold dishes, as finishing garnishes, or in the very last step of cooking. I'd buy them again to add to salads, throw in stir fries, or maybe even try in a smoothie. 

What will you try at the farmers' market this week?

New website for Central Market

Check out the brand new site for Lancaster's Central Market! Central Market the nation's oldest continuously operating farmers' market and one of my absolute favorite spots in the city. (Seriously, my week feels empty without at least one visit.) The site features historical information, a map of the market, and profiles of individual stands.

Looking at this makes me sad that I can't go on Tuesdays now that school has started up again!

Wonderful Good Market

When I heard about Stoudt's Wonderful Good Market in Adamstown, I called my mother right away to schedule a time when we could check it out along with my Mom-Mom. The market's website says they sell "fresh baked bread, pastries and a huge line of healthy edibles, dried bulk items, produce, gluten free products, international cuisine and maple syrup," and I was excited about the prospect of such a wealth of local offerings. In reality though, I was sadly disappointed by what it had to offer. They do sell a wide variety of organic dry baking goods, canned products, and other packaged goods, and although they do have some interesting frozen foods, I didn't see anything pre-packaged that I haven't seen at other natural foods stores in the area. Places like Akron Nutrition Center have a better selection anyway.

Most of all, I was hoping for more fresh produce. There was one table of beautiful vegetables, but there wasn't much of a selection. I think it's possible they may have more to offer on a Friday or Saturday, however. We ordered lunch from their lunch counter, but it was a bit chaotic. They didn't have the soup advertised on the chalkboard, figuring out where to pay was confusing, and the wait for our food was much longer than was needed to dish out soup and grill a veggie burger. That being said, our food was very good and fresh. I think this place just needs some time to figure out what it wants to be and who it wants to cater to. Until they figure that out, I'm happier shopping at Central Market.