The coolness we experienced this past summer has been a mixed blessing to local farmers and farmers market customers. As home gardeners can attest, zucchini plants were less productive than usual. We’ve had to wait a bit for those baskets of lucious fresh figs. But the good news is that tomato season will be extended. Whether you shop at the Tuesday afternoon downtown Culver City Farmers Market or the Saturday morning Fox Hills Farmers Market, you’ll have plenty of ripe heirloom and traditional tomatoes to chose from.
I’ve been on a one pot meal kick recently. Soups, stews and crock-pot recipes ensure healthy meals with a minimum amount of fuss and clean-up. Many of these recipes call for canned, not fresh, tomatoes, but the flavor of vine-ripe farmers market tomatoes can’t be beat. Here is a one-pot recipe which allow fresh tomatoes to shine.
Chickpea (Grabanzo Bean) Stew
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3-4 tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch spinach, stems removed, washed thoroughly
2-3 garlic cloves
pinch of salt
1 t. cumin
1 t. paprika pinch cloves
2 cans (15 oz.) chickpeas (also known as gabanzo beans)
1/3 c. raisins
brown rice, couscous, barley or other grain, cooked according to package instructions
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and tomatoes and simmer slowly until very soft, about 15 minutes. In a separate pot, bring water to boil. Add spinach leaves and cook 30-60 seconds to blanch. Drain and rinse with cold water. Squeeze out as much water as possible, then chop the spinach. Blanch the spinach leaves and drain. Allow to cool and then squeeze out as much water with your hands as possible, then chop the spinach. Make a paste with the garlic cloves by chopping them finely with some salt and then mashing them with the side of your knife into the cutting board until a paste forms. Mix that with the cumin, saffron, paprika, cloves, cinnamon and a touch of the water from the chickpea cans until you have a wet paste. Add the paste to the onion-tomato mixture and cook for around three minutes. Add the chickpeas with their water, the spinach and the raisins. Bring mixture to a low simmer. Cook another 10 minutes or so, then check for seasoning and serve warm over grain of your choice. (Recipe adopted from Two Small Farms CSA newsletter).
Culver City Farmers Markets are held on Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. The Tuesday market is held from 2 to 7 pm on Main Street between Venice and Culver Blvds. The Saturday market is held from 8:30-11:30 a.m. in the northeast corner of the Westfield Culver City mall near the intersection of Slauson and Hannum.
Katie Malich is very fond of fresh raisins she’s purchased at local farmers markets, and suggests using them when you make this vegan-friendly stew.