at the greenmarket

Beets Get Deep; Catch Leeks and Radicchio at Their Peak

Whoopie pies!Photo: Zoe Singer

Fashion writers may be buzzing about the spacebots and froth of spring, as this trend feature attests, but the look at the Greenmarket is all earmuffs and fingerless gloves. This season's curvaceous pears, potatoes, and cabbages continue to turn heads.

What to Look For
Bull's blood beets are a particularly soulful variety of the root. Braise the red-veined, crimson-black leaves with a little stock to mellow their mineral tang while retaining their slight smokiness. The beets themselves have sweet fucshia flesh with a deep, spicy earthiness. Base a borscht around them, or roast them for warm salads (recipe) ($1.50 per bunch at Paffenroth, available Wednesday and Saturday).

Thick, multilayered leek stalks are mild and sweet right now, with a delicate onion flavor. Trim away their tough tops and outer leaves and cook them in moist heat to render them toothsome and tender (recipe) ($1 each at Stokes Farm, available Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday).

At most markets, radicchio is an overpriced red orb sold for its color, but at the Greenmarket, it exists in several varieties as a rather sumptuous vegetable, all currently at their peak. The elongated, green-veined leaves of mahogany Treviso radicchio have a sweet, romainelike stalk. The bitter leaves take on a complex, nutty flavor when frizzled in hot oil. Try these handsome heads sautéed with garlic then stirred into squash risotto ($6 per pound at Northshire Farms, available Saturday).

Ted Blew's excellent baked goods are back. His Pennsylvania Dutch heritage inspires delights like raisin-dotted pumpkin whoopie pies. The chewy, well-spiced cookies sandwich a layer of sugary vegetable shortening "cream" ($2 per pie at Oak Grove, available Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday).

"Wild" Italian arugula has thick, little oaklike green leaves and a distinctive savory flavor. Peppery and assertive, it's refreshing in both warm and cold salads (recipe) ($2 per bunch at Paffenroth, available Wednesday and Saturday).

Blink and You'll Miss It
Mispoona, a tatsoi-mizuna cross, is likely to disappear for the year in the next week or two. The emerald leaves have the succulence of Asian greens, while the crisp white stems have a pungency reminiscent of broccoli rabe. Stir-fry for a crunchy side dish, or cook slowly until the stems are meltingly soft ($2 per bunch at Keith's Farm, available Wednesday and Saturday).

— Zoe Singer

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