One of my favourite things to do at the start of the work week is to visit the Sorauren Farmers Market. This year-round market (outdoors in spring, summer, early fall and indoors during the winter) is run by the West End Food Coop in Toronto. Here is a description of the market from their website (www.westendfood.coop):
On offer is fresh, local, organic or sustainably grown foods. The market is a one-stop-shop and an essential way to connect eaters with farmers. We strongly support new farmers and producers.
“The sense of community will draw you in, the delicious food will bring you back”
Sense of community indeed. I love the market not just for the food, but for the wonderful farmers and small business owners who are always welcoming and chatty. And you all know how much I love to talk 🙂 I am a huge supporter of the West End Food Coop, who provide an array of services and fresh food to Parkdale residents. They also provide jobs to lower-income community members and support a local diabetes group, which is amazing!
When I arrive at the market, I usually get my shopping done first and then treat myself to some local (and delicious) food. The West End Food Coop has a food booth where they provide a variety of local treats, made right at their store (e.g. kale pesto, hummus, meat pies, pre-made salads). In the summer they offer cold salad plates, and when the weather cools off chilli is on the menu:
I finished that baby off with some hot apple cider and a cinnamon bun from Alli’s Baked Goods (the poor woman at the booth actually said to me “are you finally getting one after all these months?” as I caved).
Here is a look at my loot:
What are those white things with the green leaves? I’m glad you asked my friend. Those were my impulse purchase of the day. Usually I go to the market armed with a list of produce I’m looking for and recipes (this is an attempt for me to not go wild and spend my week’s pay on food, however rarely works). Those white vegetables are called “Hakurei” or simply “salad turnips”.
I NEVER saw myself ever buying turnips. When I think turnips, I am brought back to my mother cooking turnips in her slow cooker and making the house smell like a cow dung factory (sorry mom!). Needless to say, I’ve never been a fan. I was looking for celery to add to a beef stew and oddly there are not many farmers out there growing celery this year. A lovely woman at the market suggested I try these turnips as an alternative. I sampled one and BOOM, I was shocked. It was mild and sweet, almost like a cross between a radish, a carrot and the crunch of celery.
So I diced a few of them up today and put them in the slow cooker with some carrot, mushroom, potato, beef, stock and spices. Taste TBD. However, I still have 4 more turnips and all the greens to go through. What to do? After some thought (and internet researching) here is what I came up with:
- The greens are very similar in taste and texture to beet greens. They also have a peppery aftertaste, similar to arugula. I already used a handful in my smoothie this morning (they turned the smoothie a lovely shade of green!). I am going to saute the greens in a pan with some olive oil, add salt and pepper and drizzle with balsamic vinegar to finish. You could also use the greens in a simple salad.
- You can roast the white turnips similar to a potato or carrot. I plan on bringing a few home with me this weekend for Thanksgiving and roast them with some other root veggies (potato, parsnip, sweet potato) with a little bit of salt, pepper, olive oil and dried rosemary.
- Here is a great recipe I found from http://www.smallfarmcentral.com, using the turnips and other fall produce for a fresh salad:
Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together: 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar, and 1⁄2 tsp. Dijon mustard. Slowly whisk in 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil until dressing thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Salad: 1 bunch small salad turnips, 1 carrot, very thinly sliced ( or shredded or cut into matchsticks) 1 sweet-tart apple (like Gala, Fuji or Honey Crisp), unpeeled and cut into thin wedges, 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced, 4 cups mixed salad greens of your choice (OPTIONAL), 1⁄4 cup diced dried apricots or craisins, 1⁄4 cup. shelled pistachios ( can substitute toasted pecans or other nut)
-Place vegetables and apple slices in a medium bowl. Toss with half the dressing.
-Place salad greens in a large bowl and toss with remaining half of dressing.
-Divide greens onto 4 salad plates. Top with dressed vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with apricots or craisins and nuts. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.