How to Use Farmers' Market Vegetables

The Clever Cookstr talks with Quinciple's Kate Galassi about the three farmers' market vegetables you should be buying this season, and how to use them in the kitchen and on the grill.

Kara Rota
3-minute read
Episode #1

Welcome to the first episode of the Clever Cookstr podcast where every week we'll get insight into the kitchens of the world's best cooks!

Today we're talking to Kate Galassi, co-founder of Quinciple, a service that brings the farmers’ market to New York residents’ doorsteps through subscription boxes of handpicked goods. Kate was formerly a professional forager at top New York City restaurants including The Spotted Pig and The Breslin. Today, she joins the Clever Cookstr to talk about 3 farmers' market vegetables you should be looking out for this season.

Clever Cookstr: What exactly does being a professional forager entail?

Kate Galassi: Mostly, it means going to the farmers' market, seeing what's really good that day and getting it for the chefs. It also means building relationships with farmers and mushroom foragers and ranchers and cheesemakers. I work directly with the people who make and grow food and find what's best.

CC: There are some late spring vegetables that most of us are familiar with: radishes and asparagus come to mind. But what else should we be looking for at the farmers' market this time of year?

KG: There are a few plants that we'll talk about today: mustard greens, spring onions, and Japanese turnips. These all have a fairly short season right now.

Vegetable #1: Mustard Greens

  • Spicier and more flavorful than spinach, chard, or kale.

  • Four main varieties: green and purple flat leaf, and the same colors in a frillier variety.

  • Use all varieties interchangeably in these recipes.

Confetti Salad with Mustard Greens

  1. Wash mustard greens thoroughly and chop them finely into thin strips, like confetti.

  2. Julienne (slice thinly with a mandolin or chef's knife) root vegetables you have on hand, like radishes or carrots.

  3. Toss all the vegetables together with a simple lemon vinaigrette. Add garlic if you like.

Grilled or Sauteed Mustard Greens

  1. Keep the leaves whole if grilling; slice if sauteeing.

  2. Toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

  3. Grill for a few minutes.

  4. Sprinkle with fresh garlic and rice vinegar. Add sesame seeds or fish sauce if you like.

  5. Serve with fried rice and an egg as a meal.

Bonus tip: Use a mesh grill pan to keep your veggies from falling into the grill.

Vegetable #2: Spring Onions

  • Not a leek, not a scallion, but a bit like both.

  • Look like fat scallions, as big as your thumb or larger.

  • Easier to clean than scallions and ramps.

  • Juicy, sweet, not as intense as raw onion.

Spring Onion Salsa

  1. Slice a few spring onions, from the green tops all the way to the bulbs.

  2. Toss with cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

  3. Serve with fish, chicken, use as marinade, or throw it into tacos.

Bonus tip: If you're a cilantro hater, swap in mint, basil, parsley, or all three. Use lemon juice instead of lime.

Grilled Spring Onions with Chickpea Crostini

  1. Leave the tops on; trim if they're too long.

  2. Get a good char on your onions on the grill, so they're tender inside.

  3. Toss with chickpeas and sliced radish.

  4. Pile on top of toasted bread.

Vegetable #3: Japanese Turnips

  • Much milder than regular purple-topped turnips.

  • Nicknamed "salad turnips" because you can eat them raw in salads.

  • Look like white golf balls; buy them as small as you can find them.

  • Look for turnips with nice green tops – you can eat the tops, too!

Shaved Japanese Turnip Salad

  1. Wash the turnips well.

  2. Use a vegetable peeler or mandoline to slice the turnips.

  3. Toss with lemon vinaigrette and sliced radishes.

  4. Top with shaved Parmesan.

  5. Add greens or cooked grains to make it a larger meal.

Grilled Turnips

  1. Grill them whole, or grill the tops and bottoms separately and then toss them together.

  2. Serve as a sweet side dish to grilled meats.

That's all for today!

Tune in next time for the Clever Cookstr's Quick and Dirty Tips from the World's Best Cooks.

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About the Author

Kara Rota

Kara Rota headed children’s programming at Chicago’s Green City Market and studied food politics at Sarah Lawrence College. Kara has been a featured speaker at numerous venues including Food Book Fair, the Roger Smith Food Conference, and the Brooklyn Food Conference. She has written about food for Irish America Magazine, West Side Rag, Recipe Relay, and Food + Tech Connect, and is the former Director of Editorial & Partnerships at Cookstr.com.