The Backyard

The Backyard

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What's at the Local Farmers Markets in Central PA?

It's coming kids...the local produce is about ready to start making it's debut in Central PA. Move aside winter veges and make room for fresh, spring produce. Farmers that have hoop houses have probably already been providing greens -- kale, spinach, collards, turnip greens - and maybe even some of the root crops like carrots, beets, and turnips. But for those that don't grow all winter, you can start to count on rhubarb, asparagus, some herbs (chives, sage, fennel leaves, maybe some rosemary if they were able to keep in alive this winter - mine bit the dust this year) watercress, and a spattering of other early greens. I'm in Zone 5 (1 hour north of Harrisburg) and I'll be picking asparagus and rhubarb this weekend. I found this incredible-sounding recipe for rhubarb and lentils that I'm dying to try and this weekend will be the test. The cookbook is Flexitarian Table, by Peter Berley, and it has wonderful recipes that mix fruit with vegetables in grains, but then also has a "side" of meat for the meat-lover in the family. Hubby's in heaven.

Lentil and Rhubarb Curry with Potatoes and Peas (Flexitarian Cookbook, by Peter Berley)
Spice Blend
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground fennel
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
sea salt or kosher salt
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 cups coarsely chopped green cabbage
2 cups diced potatoes (1/2 inch)
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced rhubarb
1 cup French lentils, soaked for 4-6 hours and drained
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 bay leaf
1 cup thawed frozen peas

For the Spice Blend: In a bowl, stir together all the ingredients.

For the Lentils: In a heavy 3 to 4 quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, shallots, ginger, and a large pinch of salt, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, 8-10 minutes. Uncover, stir in the garlic and the spice blend, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add the cabbage, potatoes, rhubarb, lentils, brown sugar, and bay leaf, along with enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and add more water as necessary to keep the dish fairly soupy.

When lentils are tender, season with salt to taste, stir in the peas, and simmer until the peas are just tender, about 4 minutes.

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