Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lean, green and surprisingly flavourful!
(A review article by Malcolm Jolley in the National Post, June 11, 2010):

Evergreen Brickworks Farmers’ Market (Saturdays),
Riverdale Farmers’ Market (Tuesdays); $5 for small bag (serves four)

Sometimes, I think the locavore movement is less about where things are grown and more about who grew them and how. Concepts like the 100-mile diet are great for introducing folks to the idea of caring about your food, but if you want the very best quality of produce possible, you better buy it from the person who grew it. A few organic growers, such as Cookstown Greens in the Holland Marsh, package their salad mixes and sell them to specialty retailers in Toronto including Harvest Wagon, The Healthy Butcher, Pantry and the 100% all Ontario-sourced shop Culinarium, but to be guaranteed a salad at dinner that was picked after breakfast, nothing beats buying it from a farmer at the market.

Farmers’ markets have sprouted like weeds throughout the GTA and Ontario (a quick Google search will turn up a bunch of listings). Rolling Hills Organics from Northumberland Hills, northeast of Toronto, grows mesclun mixes that it sells in bags at the Riverdale Farmers’ Market in Cabbagetown on Tuesdays and at the Evergreen Brick Works Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. Theirs is a peppery, mustardy blend. In fact they sell a “hot” version and a “mild” version, as well as a straight bag of baby arugula. Unlike import mesclun blends, these greens haven’t been gassed to stay fresh. They actually are fresh, and they’ve been washed with water, so they can be eaten right away.

The point of ingredient-driven cooking is to get out of the way of the ingredients’ flavours, so that they are the star rather than the sauce or garnish. When faced with just-picked greens, I simply toss them in a good glug of quality extra virgin olive oil and season with a little coarse salt (I might add a squeeze of lemon, but only if I’m cutting one up for something else). The salad will accompany some kind of grilled meat or fish, and once the steak, trout or whatever has been cooked and let to rest, I’ll leave the barbecue on, clean it and make simple bruschetta to round out the meal. No pots or pans to wash up!