Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The vegetables of my labor, part 2

When I first moved to DC, I wrote about a pick-your-own farm in Upper Marlboro, MD that lets people work in the fields for vegetables. It was back-breaking work -- carrying 50-pound bins of squash from one end of the field to the other in the blazing July sun was no walk in the park. But the vegetables were always worth it. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to work there last summer with all the med school-related things going on. But now that I do have all this free time on my hands, I've found a way to work for vegetables once more, and right in the city, too!

There's a stand at the Dupont Circle farmers market called Next Step Produce, which has absolutely phenomenal vegetables. And now, I work there on Sundays in exchange for some of the best produce I have ever eaten. (Frankly, calling it work is totally overstated because it's an absolute joy to be outside on Sunday morning and talk about vegetables) Here's one bag of stuff I carried home after one Sunday:

Clockwise from the left: Swiss chard, bag of mushrooms, leeks, Kabu turnip greens, sunchokes, turnips, spinach, sweet potatoes, erba stella, and oat groats.

I took a page out of Tamar Adler's book about during vegetable prep over the weekend and found that it made cooking during the week a lot easier. I wash, dry, and ziploc my greens once I get back from the market so I can grab whatever combination of greens for salads or sautes on the spot without having to go through the trouble of washing anything. But unlike Tamar, I don't cook everything at once because it's nice to eat freshly-made stuff at least once before resorting to leftovers, right?


So over the past few months, my already-sufficient vegetable intake has skyrocketed. And because the greens often cook down quite a bit and are so tasty, it was easy to eat a lot of it. In the very beginning, I found myself simply sauteing the vegetables in garlic, olive oil, and salt. This was a really great way to cook unfamiliar vegetables because it gave me a sense of their taste, texture, and how they behaved in the cooking process on their own.

But despite how good they were, after a few weeks, if I had to eat another plate of simply sauteed veggies with rice I was going to hit myself over the head with my skillet. So recently I've been experimenting with many greens-intensive recipes, and it's been mostly successful! There are more vegetables coming, so stay tuned.

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