The Dirt: What To Get At The Farmers Market This Weekend
Locally grown produce represents a season’s worth of hard labor for area farmers, and the most rewarding moment of all happens when a customer takes the literal fruits of those labors home to enjoy. Observe this Labor Day by filling your long weekend with gorgeous things to eat! Summer favorites are still going strong along with some new arrivals to market and fall favorites just beginning to appear.
Squash Blossoms – What to do when everybody is sick to death of zucchini? Eat the flowers before they become fruit! The crepe-paper texture of these delicate beauties will quickly slump into nothingness if left in the fridge, so pick up some squash blossoms at Hilltop Farm (Rittenhouse) this weekend, stuff those puppies with a little Hillacres Prize mozzarella, slap them in beer batter and fry them up that same day!
White Grapes– Whereas table grapes from California and points further south feel like a year-round grocery store staple, the richly-flavored grapes available locally usually only hang around for a month or so. The season kicks off this week with seedless white grapes and then the darker purples and greens will come around in September. You can pick up a bunch or two at Eden Garden (Clark Park) or from Three Springs Fruit Farm (Headhouse).
Chicken of the Woods – Warning: mushroom specifics ahead. All you menu readers out there are probably very accustomed to seeing “hen of the woods”cropping up on descriptions of dishes around down. Also called maitake, these ruffly, mousy brown mushrooms are delicate with a pleasant, nutty flavor. They also happen to have a name that is very similar to “chicken of the woods”mushrooms, but the two are nowhere near the same things. While maitake are routinely cultivated, chicken of the woods are wild things. These bright orange shingle-shaped mushrooms grow on tree trunks in the late summer and early fall. Their flavor is meaty (kind of like chicken), yet citrusy. Stop by Happy Cat Organics at headhouse to try some for yourself.
Spaghetti Squash – The first of the winter squash to make her debut, spaghetti squash is here to tango with the tomatoes. Urban Girls (Clark Park) will have it, as will Landisdale (Chestnut Hill).
Amaranth– Amaranth sprouts from tiiiiiny little seeds, eventually leaving out into uncommonly gorgeous green and magenta leaves. The foliage, like most dark green things, is super nutritious and has a flavor similar to spinach. While young leaves can be eaten raw in a salad older ones benefit from a quick sauté. Look for these beauties on the Queen’s Farm table at Headhouse this weekend.
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