If you find yourself a little cowed by the wall of leafy greens and swarms of guys in chef’s jackets in Union Square, reach out to your local farmers. They’ll point you to what’s new, at peak, or just plain easy to cook, and they’re happy to brag about which restaurants are buying their stuff. This week that means zucchini, spinach, and carrots of a kind we haven’t seen yet this season.
What to Look For
Gadzooks zucchini, an early-to-form, medieval-looking, deeply-ridged, bi-color-green specimen, is particularly dense, and has a considerably more nutty flavor than your average, more watery zook. Use in zucchini recipes like this one, or shallow-fry them until brown, then salt the little chips and eat while they’re fryalicious ($4 per pound at Cherry Lane, available Wednesday and Saturday).
Garlic scapes, a curly, green offshoot of hard-necked garlic varieties, are trimmed away before they bloom, so that the bulbs underground get more of the plant’s resources. Luckily for farmers, scapes are a mildly garlicky delicacy worth buying for the few short weeks they’re around. To make sure they’re tender, choose scapes with tightly closed buds. Throw them in the blender for a mean pesto, or chop and add to the pan when sautéing fish. The flavor is sweet and the texture reminiscent of asparagus ($6 per pound at S & SO, available Wednesday and Saturday).
John Gorzynski, whose motto is “beyond organic,” is bringing in the best spinach he’s grown in years. Don’t miss this opportunity to savor this underappreciated vegetable at its silkiest, most mineral-sweet, and deep-jade-colored best ($8 per pound at Gorzynski, available Saturday).
In summer, carrots become large and earthy; then, in the fall, they’re at their sweetest. But the spring carrot is perhaps the most nuanced. The matchstick-size, many-colored organic carrots from Windfall farm are a gorgeous mix of ivory, maroon, and orange, and their delicate, mineral-rich flavors offer herbaceous notes of mint and tarragon. Steam the little beauties, then toss with some butter and fresh herbs ($5 per half-pint at Windfall, available Wednesday and Saturday).
Ripe for the Moment
The entirety of James Joyce’s Ulysses takes place on June 16th, a date that now commemorates the author, as well as his main character, Leopold Bloom. To celebrate Bloomsday next Saturday, pints will be a-pouring from Dublin to Brooklyn as Joyceans frolic, and at the market, Cato Corner will be cutting perfectly aged, caramel-sweet, crumbly wedges of their raw-milk, year-old Bloomsday cheese. If you neglected to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Month (April), kill two birds with this recipe. ($26 per pound for the year-old Bloomsday, $21 per pound for the regularly available six-month Bloomsday, at Cato Corner, available Saturday).
Overheard at the Market: Department of Homeland Resourcefulness
“I’m making biodeisel from the used oil at Heartland Brewery to run everything — the truck, the greenhouse, my tractor. It smells like French fries when I’m out in the fields.”