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Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

Spring officially begins tomorrow and it’s easy to get impatient for all that the season will bring. Signs of spring tend to start slowly at farmers tailgate markets—a glimpse of green garlic and spring onions here, a bit of flowering rabe there. We’re still a ways off from ramps, asparagus, or strawberries. But these last few markets of the winter season still have plenty to offer. 

Leafy greens continue to be plentiful from produce vendors, including kale, collards, chard, mustard greens, tatsoi, bok choy, spinach, cabbage, and more. Many of the root veggies available now, like turnips, kohlrabi, radishes, or carrots also have leafy—and delicious—tops. There are also head lettuces, like romaine and butterhead, as well as salad greens like arugula, mizuna, pea shoots, or watercress. Want to celebrate all of these winter-hardy greens in one go? Make gumbo z’herbes!

Green gumbo, or gumbo z’herbes, is greens-forward version of the more common meat or seafood gumbo. Some recipes call for an assortment of 9 or more varieties of greens (tradition mandates an odd number for good luck), including everything mentioned above, even the ones not typically cooked, like romaine. Think of it as a “clean out your market bag” type of meal. In Louisiana, it’s traditionally eaten during Lent while abstaining from meat, but you can find versions that start with pork fat or throw in some smoked sausage. Serve it with a bowl of rice for a satisfying meal. 

To start, clean your greens and coarsely tear or chop them into one-inch ribbons. Put them in a large pot and cover with water or broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook gently until greens are tender, about 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, make your roux. In another pot, heat half a cup of vegetable oil or fat, then whisk in half a cup of flour until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the roux is browned but not burned. Add diced bell pepper, celery, scallions, and garlic and cook until softened. 

Drain the cooked greens, reserving the liquid. Add greens to the roux and vegetables along with eight cups of cooking liquid. Simmer for another 10 minutes, then season with salt and pepper. According to your preference, you could also add paprika, hot sauce, vinegar, or lemon juice. 

In addition to produce, at markets now you’ll find meat, fish, bread, rice, prepared foods, fermented products, baked treats, and much more. Farmers tailgate markets take place throughout the region, even in the winter. You can find information about farms, tailgate markets, and farm stands, including locations and hours, by visiting ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.