What to buy this month
A stroll through a farmers market brings you one step closer to the farm where your food grows. Houston has many markets, and our temperate climate means we get delicate spring greens and a rainbow assortment of root and bulb vegetables throughout the winter months.
This month, look for arugula, a spicy peppery addition to any meal – try it as a fresh finish on top of a pizza or stir into a pasta or rice dish. Those uses hold true for all of the greens you’ll find at the market stands in February, such as spinach or French sorrel. Don’t let those tops of the carrots, turnips, and beets go to waste either; they’re all a great source of iron.
Bulbs like beets, fennel, radish, and green onions are at their peak in Houston through the winter and early spring. A delicious – and truly Texan – way to use the sunset shades of red or golden beets is in the Chipotle Beet and Egg Tostada (recipe below).
Fresh vegetables can make a fantastic and simple Asian stir fry. Try broccoli, carrots, kohlrabi, bok choy, and sugar peas, or even heartier greens like collards and kale, with a teaspoon of vegetable oil over medium heat. Deglaze the pan with a splash of soy sauce and mirin (or dry sherry), toss with precooked udon noodles, and finish with a little Sichuan Chili Oil (recipe below). If you keep this infused oil on hand in your fridge, you can turn any farmers-market haul into a rewarding dinner.
Abridged from “The Taco Tuesday Cookbook” by Laura Fuentes
4 medium beets, ends trimmed
1 can (7-ounce) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
1 lime, halved, divided
4 large eggs
8 tostadas, store-bought or crisp a lightly oiled corn tortilla in oven
6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat oven to 375 F. Wrap each beet in a square of aluminum foil with a tablespoon of adobo sauce. Roast for 50 minutes, until fork tender. Allow to cool on counter for 10 minutes.
Peel and cube the beets. Coarsely chop the chipotle peppers. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil to medium-high heat. Add beets, chipotles, cumin, salt, and juice of half a lime. Stir to combine and heat through – about 3 minutes.
In another skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat and cook the eggs sunny side up. Make a layer of beets and chipotles on each tostada, top with goat cheese crumbles, add a fried egg, and sprinkle with cilantro. Finish with a squeeze of the remaining lime.
Abridged from “Cook’s Country” online
½ cup peanut or vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 (½-inch) piece ginger, smashed
1 cinnamon stick
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat to 350 F. Remove from heat and add all ingredients except sesame oil. Let come to room temperature, about 1 hour. Strain oil mixture through a fine-mesh strainer; discard solids. Stir in sesame oil. Store at room temperature up to 3 weeks, or refrigerated up to 3 months.
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