Fresh From the Farm – Katie Malich

It’s mid-October and the local weather still has not made up its mind whether to send us to the beach or to shop for raincoats and umbrellas.

It was a perfect sunny Saturday morning when I paid a visit to the Culver South Certified Farmers Market in the northeast corner of the Westfield Culver City shopping mall. I grabbed some end of the season peaches at one stand, and sampled wonderful crisp Asian pears and apples at another. One of the stands selling vegetables had pre-bagged baby spinach leaves which were perfectly clean and fresh, which I added to my stash, And I grabbed a bouquet of deep orange marigolds to remind myself that it was, in fact, October. Japanese persimmons (the smaller ones which you can eat while they are still firm) were another orange October find. I have to confess that I opted for Golden Delicious apples, a sentimental favorite of mind, over the Asian pears in this shopping trip, but either would have been a great choice.

What to do with all my purchases? Luckily, I found inspiration from some local California farmers markets and community supported agriculture websites.

Persimmon salad
(serves 6)

12 thin slices proscuitto
1 small shallot, finely minced
2 T. aged balsamic vinegar
scant 1/4 t. salt
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 Japanese persimmons, peeled, quartered, sliced into 1/4 ” slices
12 ounces of mesculin salad mix
6 oz. goat cheese
freshly ground pepper

Whisk together the minced shallot, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt. Set aside. Put approximately 2 ounces of mesculin mix on each plate and garnish with persimmon slices. Drizzle with dressing. Garnish each plate with two slices of prosciutto and one ounce of goat cheese. Add one or two grinds of pepper and serve.

(Recipe adopted from Ford’s Filling Station Duck Proscuitto Salad recipe on Santa Monica Farmers Market website.)

Spinach and Zucchini Soup
(serves 6)

You can make a vegan version of this soup using vegetable stock, a vegetarian version of it by blending in some sour cream or plain yogurt right before serving, or an omnivore version of it by using chicken stock instead of vegetable stock.

3 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, chopped
1/4 t. salt
2 medium potatoes or 6-8 baby potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2 ” cubes. (New red potatoes or yukon gold potatoes would work well in this recipe.) You’ll want 2 1/2 cups chopped potatoes.
2 1/2 c. zucchini (approximately two medium), chopped.
4 c. stock (vegetable or chicken)
4 c. fresh spinach leaves
1/2 lemon
1/2-1 c. cilantro leaves, chopped
optional 1/3 c. sour cream or plain yogurt

Heat oil in a saucepan, and add the garlic and onions. Cook for a few minutes until they are soft. Add the potatoes and zucchini and stock and cover. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Add the spinach and stir until spinach is wilted. Puree with immersion blender. If desired, add 1/3 c. sour cream or plain yogurt and blend. Add lemon juice and taste. Add additional salt if necessary. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves. (If you are serving this to avid cilantro-lovers, you could add a cup of chopped cilantro leaves at the same time as the spinach.)

The Tuesday Culver City Farmers Market is held from 2 pm to 7 pm on Main Street between Venice and Culver Blvds. The Saturday Culver City South Farmers Market is held on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the corner of Slauson and Hannum in the northeast corner of the Westfield Culver City shopping mall.

Katie Malich once lived next to a man with the most amazing Golden Delicious apple tree in the entire universe. The apples she bought Saturday at the Culver South farmers market gave his tree a good run for the money.

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