Buongiorno. This week one of the highlights from my farmers market visit was finding a locally-harvested couple of pounds of local Manila clams from the Point Reyes Oyster Company. Usually the clams you get here on the West Coast are width of a plum: you buy a pound and you get about 12-15. When making most Italian dishes that call for clams, we use our small vongole that are the size of a quarter: there are about 60 to a pound. That way, you get one or two meaty morsels with every bite, instead of having to rely exclusively upon the sauce to carry the flavor.
Once I got them home, I made a quick soffritto with garlic and red pepper...
... and our lunch was ready in about 20 minutes. Point Reyes Oyster Co also carries mussels this time of year, but they were sold out by the time I got there (9:20am).
The first fresh asparagus of the season are here from my favorite producer: Couture Farms from Kettleman City. These are tender, grassy and juicy with that crunchy snap that only comes from the freshest asparagus - not the droopy supermarket kind. Try them in stir-fries and soups, and in this seasonal recipe with lemongrass and a shallot vinagrette.
Fresh lemongrass is plentiful and works well with asparagus. Remember: either take out the stalk after you cook it or mince it, because it's too hard to chew otherwise. Here's a great visual tutorial on proper prep for lemongrass.
Since Lisa's sprouted beans recipe was so popular at our last event, I wanted to pass along this hot tip: At the Ferry Plaza farmers market you can find a broad selection of sprouted legumes costing $2-$3.50/lb. They're excellent in salads, sandwiches, and starters for breads. If you want to sprout your own beans, supplies and directions can be found at Sprout People.
The most tender, small-leaved dino kale I've had in a while can be found on the Tomatero Farms stand. It's important to eat kale as fresh as possible, otherwise it develops a cabbagey flavor that many people dislike. I really enjoyed this recipe that combines sweet pork tenderloin marinated in a stone-ground mustard and sherry vinegar with dino kale's delicate chard-like flavor.
There are some pungent leeks that are just waiting to be added to pancetta (or bacon) and Capay Farms Yukon Gold organic potatoes in the ultimate rainy-day soup.
Sugarcane is here. Since our next event will feature all poultry except chicken, who's making us a dish with this marinade?
First time I've seen them at the market in California: fresh pecans. When they're this fresh their flavor is concentrated and buttery. Try them in these tarts: I could die happy after one of those.
Couture Farms also brought raw, unsalted pistachios. They're the perfect in dishes with seasonal Lisbon lemons and limes, not to mention this lime and pistachio tart recipe.