Laura AveryEarly spring is a good time to use some cabbage in recipes. There are several varieties available at the farmers’ market. Cabbage is delicious and nutritious, raw or cooked. A truly fresh cabbage is sweet-spicy and very crisp and tender. At the market you can find:Early Jersey Wakefield – This is a light green, slightly pointed cabbage that originated in Stuttgart, Germany, then became popular on England’s Isle of Jersey, from whence it got its name. It is sweeter than other kinds of cabbage and worth checking out.Red or Purple Cabbage – Most commonly recognized cabbage varieties. Slice very thin for color and contrast in salads or salsas.Napa Cabbage – Also called Chinese Cabbage. Most commonly used in Korean kimchi – a spicy, fermented sauerkraut-like preparation. Recognized by its frilly leaves.Savoy Cabbage – A hybrid with a large, round head. This variety is sweet and often has a butter yellow core. It is the most common cabbage in coleslaw. Its leaves can also be used instead of grape leaves for stuffing. Cardoon – A large stalk that resembles overgrown celery, with a distinct artichoke flavor. Cardoon stalks can become hollow if they get too large. They must be thoroughly cooked and the tough exterior strings removed before eating. They make an excellent gratin.Mache – A tender leafed green that is a prime component of mesclun salad mixes. Flora Bella Farms is selling tiny mache plants that can be harvested as micro greens or put in the garden to harvest as they mature.Fruit Blossoms – Farmers have discovered that the beautiful flowering fruit branches they prune at this time of year are highly desirable floral items. Dark woody stems festooned with delicate white and pink flowers are delightful indoors, and a true harbinger of summer fruit to come. Ask the farmer if you are getting blooms of quince, plum, nectarine, peach or cherry. Spring Onions – Small onions are thinned at this time of year, but farmers plant extra just for thinning because the baby onions are so popular. Red or white onions complete with stems can be used like dry onions, and they can be roasted whole with their stems intact. Young stems can also be used as chives.Tomatoes – Greenhouse tomatoes are very flavorful, and one early heirloom variety, a Purple Cherokee, is already available from Jaime Farm. Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature – never refrigerated. Green tomatoes will ripen on the countertop. Select from several varieties including Shady Lady from Wong Farms or Premier from Beylik farm. Field tomatoes are still several weeks away.Pistachio Meal – Santa Barbara Pistachios has pistachio meal for $6 per pound. Pistachio meal can be used for breading and frying (scallops work great,) or in recipes that call for almond meal. For baking, use 1/3 cup pistachio meal and 2/3 cup flour. SB Pistachios also has toasted pistachio oil for $8.75 for 16 ounces. Raw pistachio oil is coming soon.
Four weekly markets of fresh produce and flowers, 2nd and Arizona Ave.:Wed. 9am–2pm and Sat. 8:30am–1pm; Airport Ave.: Sat. 8am–1pm; Main St. and Ocean Park, The Victorian at Heritage Square: Sun. 9:30am–1pm, features live music, pony rides, coffee, omelets, crepes & free craft workshop; 310.458.8712.