This time of year I love sweet ripe tomatoes, freshly dressed lettuce and buttered roasted corn as much as any person can, but there really is more to life than a bowl of Colorado cherries. I watch folks ignoring the summer smorgasbord to focus on the mild, sweet favorites.
Playing it safe means you are missing the sizzle, produce-wise. Instead of mutiny-ing against the bounty, taste something new. This is what I found in 15 minutes last Saturday at the Boulder County Farmers’ Market in Boulder.
Munson Farm rainbow chard
Swiss chard is a green leafy treat with white, red and yellow stems and can be used much like spinach except it has a little more flavor. Some trim the stems and cook them a bit longer than the leaves but I like the crunch they add. Saute chard with a little olive oil or butter and salt, add it to omelets or combine it with cooked macaroni, sausage slices and grated Parmesan for a quick, weeknight all-in-one dish.
Pastures of Plenty Fava Beans
I’ll skip the obligatory Silence of the Lambs reference here. If you love edamame you’ll enjoy fresh fava beans. The big pods can be grilled in the pod, which gives them a little smoke flavor. The beans have a thin shell that can be removed. Cooked favas can replace peas in most dishes. Best of all, make a Boulder County summer bean salad with fava beans, green beans, onions and herbs in a vinaigrette dressing.
Miller Farms Kohlrabi
Kohlrabi topped the shopping list when producers of TV’s Star Trek Voyager went looking for alien vegetables to stock the pantry in Neelix’s galley. Once you peel the alien-looking cabbage relative it looks much less threatening to small children and has a mild flavor. Cut kohlrabi into matchstick sized pieces or shred to use in stir frys or vegetable slaws. The War of the Worlds arms are also edible.
Aspen Moon Farms Purple Scallions
Scallions are the older sibling of regular, friendly bunches of green onions that spent the summer in the weight room. These are much bigger and can be used like any onion, except you don’t want to cook them too much. “I like to eat them thinly sliced in a salad. They have a little more bite than onions,” says Jason Griffith, co-owner of Aspen Moon Farms. The whole bulb and part of the green top can be brushed with oil and grilled until charred to serve chopped in fajitas or burgers.
Deep Nutrition Farms Shishito Peppers
These little green peppers are the hottest thing since edamame on restaurant menus, but they are not particularly spicy. Shishitos should be cooked with a little bit of oil — I like toasted sesame oil or broth in a frying pan over high heat so the pepper skins start to blister. Season them with a little salt and lemon juice and eat whole except for the stem, as with a pickled pepperoncini.
(P.S. Break out the butter. My agricultural sources tell me that some local sweet corn should start to be available this week and then arrive by the truckload after that.)
Taste of the Week
I was pretty blissful after my first visit to Boulder’s Bohemian Biergarten. What’s not to like about cold pilsener, perfectly chewy pretzels and a platter of sausages, spaetzle, mustard, red cabbage, goulash and potato-filled pierogies with sauteed mushrooms, consumed at a long wooden communal table?
(If you are a fan of hearty European fare, keep an eye out for the big kielbasa at the annual Polish Food Festival, Aug. 20-21 in Denver. Details: polishfoodfestival.org.)
Boulder-based Zymurgy magazine surveyed its readers nationally to find the 2016 Best Beers in America. Boulder’s Avery Brewing Company was voted Colorado’s best brewery. Milk Stout Nitro from Left Hand Brewing in Longmont was named best beer in the state. Local favorites ranked nationally by the homebrewers include Avery (11th), New Belgium Brewing (13th), Oskar Blues (16th), Odell Brewing (18th) and Left Hand Brewing (23rd). … Boulder-born Snarf’s sandwiches is 20 years old and now has 20 shops. … Lunada Eatery & Cantina has reopened next to Atlas Purveyors at 2770 Arapahoe Road, Lafayette. … Coming attractions: La Choza Mexican Restaurant, 1203 13th St., Boulder; and Romero’s K9 Social Club, 985 S. Public Road, Lafayette.
You Could be Colorado Scone Champion
If you are among the cult of fans of the BBC’s Great British Baking Show consider entering the fray and one of the cooking contests at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo. The cash prizes are pretty good but the bragging rights are priceless. Even if you don’t win you’ll get proper feedback about your entry. Among the competitions at the fair (Aug. 26 – Sept. 5) are cheesecake, homebrew, hobby wine, scones and one for young cooks: the monster mac & cheese cookoff. coloradostatefair.com
Tea seminars, a Japanese tea ceremony and a Taiwanese oolong tasting are on tap at the annual Rocky Mountain Tea Festival, July 30-31 at the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. rockymountainteafestival.com. … Local distillers will be celebrated and sipped at the annual Craft Distillery Fest, July 30, 1 to 5 p.m. at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont. Among the participating craft distilleries are Spirit Hound, Vapor, 10th Mountain, State 38, Rising Sun and Dancing Pines. All of them distill their spirits in Colorado versus other bottlers who import grain spirits from other places and age and label them here. craftspiritfest.com … Plan ahead: Flatirons Food Film Festival, Oct. 20-23, Boulder. flatironsfoodfilmfest.org.
Words to Chew On
“I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold”
— “This Is Just To Say” (1934) by William Carlos Williams
John Lehndorff once cooked chicken cacciatore for Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg. Read John’s blog at: johnlehndorff.wordpress.com. He hosts Radio Nibbles at 8:25 a.m. Thursdays on KGNU (88.5 FM, 1390 AM, kgnu.org). Send your culinary and life questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.