Wednesday, May 13, 2009


KOMATSUNA, also known as Japanese spinach, is just one of the more interesting veggies you'll find at farmers markets this spring.  Greens are an easy grow and a good sell for NC farmers, and jump start the hearts of veggie lovers like myself.
Komatsuna is one of the many Asian greens and vegetables grown by Haruka and Jason Oatis, on their Edible Earthscape Farm in Moncure, in Chatham County.  Before coming to North Carolina, they farmed in Japan and now use many of the techniques learned there on their sustainable farm.  Bamboo provides poles for vines and water conveyors.  They use a "chicken tractor." 
 At the bustling North Hills farmers market last Saturday, Haruka was demonstrating how to lightly saute the coarsely chopped green with shiitakes and garlic, like you can do with Swiss chard and other greens.
Beets, turnips, arugula, mizune, fresh eggs, honey, chevre from Celebrity Dairy in Siler City, and even fish from Southport, were available.  And strawberries!!  Babies were out in strollers and toddlers danced to the live blue grass band playing on the grassy quad.  The fellow selling roses had a long was the day before Mother's Day, after all.
My message to you?  Get thee to a farmers market on Saturday morning.  Take small bills and some change.  Carry your own tote sacks.  Put an ice chest in the trunk for your purchases.  It's one of the most enjoyable things to do on a weekend, AND, you will contribute to the local economy, by buying LOCAL.  Keep your food dollars in the neighborhood, and chat with the grower.  It makes a difference when you put faces on the food you eat.  

STRAWBERRY ALERT!   A market vendor told me today that strawberries will have an extremely short season this year because of all the rain.  So buy now!  I hope she's wrong.  I love strawberries, and have yet to make jam or freeze some. 

I bought a bunch of beautiful, red-stemmed Swiss chard that just begged for a light saute.  It was a perfect foil for the very mild grouper we grilled.  The shiitakes came from the SPAIN FARM in Raleigh.  

bunch of greens - Swiss chard, Komatsuna, red kale or other milder greens
3 to 5 shiitake mushrooms
2 or 3 bulbs of spring onions, thinly sliced
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Wash greens and spin or pat dry.  Cut off stiff ends.  Coarsely chop the leaves.
2.  Gently clean the shiitakes with a damp towel, cut off the stem, esp. if it's rather tough.  Then thinly slice the mushrooms.
3.  Heat olive oil over medium high heat, then add mushrooms.  Stir and saute until almost tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Add onions, stir and saute for another minute or so.  Then add garlic and stir.
4.  Add greens, and gently fold the greens with the mushrooms, onions and garlic.  Continue to saute for just a minute or two more, or until the greens are wilted yet still a bit crisp-tender.
5.  Take off heat, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

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