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Savor Strawberries, Sample Leeks

Artichokes, mushrooms, asparagus and more.

We're getting to that time of the year when there are just a lot of options at the Campbell Farmers' Market. Next week will be my last column before I head out on a round-the-country bike tour, so while I'll miss the summer fruit and veggies in Campbell I'm hoping I'll get to enjoy the summer's harvest in local markets throughout the country.

I tasted some fully mature and sweet strawberries at the market, but they're sure expensive! I expect prices will come down a bit. For now, buy a flat to get a good price and indulge! There is a lot of spraying that can be done with strawberries, because they're susceptible to many insect pests and fungi, so I buy organic-certified strawberries kept healthy by practices like crop rotations, solarizing and organic insecticides.

I saw some enormous artichokes at the market, but not many growers had them. These are a fun, if tedious, vegetable—a kind of thistle that I prefer to steam rather than boil. It seems the spring artichoke harvest is close to its peak if it hasn't passed already. Some growers could come in with a big harvest still, as they are available year-round and growers plant an annual crop in the spring.

Also try some leeks if you haven't before. They're available from several sellers, so you should be able to find a good price on some good-looking organic ones. They look like giant green onions or scallions, and their flavor once cooked comes out a bit sweeter. Here are some ideas about preparing and cooking them.

If you're looking for a snack, Farmhouse Culture has delicious sauerkraut-filled pretzel pockets for $1.50. They're delicious! I also had some delicious organic Fuji apples from one vendor but don't have their name handy. They were selling Pink Ladies too, but the Fujis were sweeter to me.

And there are still mountains of shelling and sugar pod peas and astoundingly nutty and sweet asparagus from several vendors.

Organic mushrooms are available in abundance from the family-run, certified organic J&M Ibarra Farm at the east end of the market, along with a wide variety of great vegetables. Mushrooms, especially portabellas, shitake or something else other than your standard white mushroom, bring something special to many dishes.

Linda Covella April 30, 2011 at 08:40 PM
My favorite way to cook leaks is to slow-roast them! It caramelizes them and really brings out their sweet mellow flavor. Cut off the tough upper green part of the leek, but leave some of the green. Slice them in half lengthwise. Rinse out sand and grit. Pat dry. Lay face up on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder (optional). Roast in a 325 degree F oven until caramelized (golden brown), approximately 45 min - 1 hour.
Cody Kraatz May 02, 2011 at 04:20 AM
That sounds delicious Linda! I'll have to try it. Anyone else have recipe ideas for the great produce we're seeing at the market?

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