Ramps and Fiddleheads: The First Foragables of the Season

Around here we get super excited when the first green things of the season—ramps and fiddleheads—come through the door. These wildly foraged vegetables have become quite the rage in the culinary world, so they go quickly once they hit the produce shelves. But not everyone (and don’t be embarrassed if you’re in this group) knows what these annual delicacies are and what to do with them.

So here’s a quick primer:

Ramps

If you didn’t see the sign, you might think they’re scallions. But ramps are wild leeks that smell a little like garlic and taste a little like onion. They grow in shady, wooded areas, and are in season in Vermont for a few weeks beginning in late April/early May. As with any other wildly foraged vegetable, harvesting should be done with sustainability and conservation in mind. The ramps in the store right now were foraged by Casey, our produce leader.

These tasty veggies are super versatile. They can be sautéed, roasted or grilled whole, thrown on a pizza, pickled, or used as a topping or ingredient in a sauce. Here’s a great article in Saveur with 10 different recipes.

Fiddleheads

The first fiddleheads are just making it onto the Vermont local produce scene. We’re expecting to get in more from our local foragers before the weekend. But they go fast. So if you see them, grab them and run! (but please pay first :))

So what are fiddleheads, exactly? They’re the bright green coils (fronds) of the fern plant before it opens up. They’re harvested in Vermont in early spring, just as the grass in your front lawn is starting to green up. The window of opportunity is short and sweet (usually from early May to around the third week in the month). Once the fern leaf starts to unfurl, they’re no longer edible.

Like ramps, you can do almost anything with these spring treats—often described as sweet like asparagus and crispy like a green bean. Our advice is: keep it simple. They don’t need much. Anything you’d do with asparagus, you can do with fiddleheads. They can be steamed, roasted, picked, or sautéed. Here’s a delicious-sounding recipe, Roasted Fiddlehead Ferns with Meyer Lemon and Capers, by the Tasting Table.

What to Bring to Your Cinco de Mayo Gathering

Going to a Cinco de Mayo party but don’t have time to prepare a dish? We’ve been stocking up on prepared foods and appetizers for your spring Fiesta.

Here are a few ideas:

Cotija and crackers

This Hispanic-style cheese is named after the Mexican town of Cotija.  It has a strong, salty flavor and firm texture, which makes it perfect for slicing or cubing. Pick up a box of your favorite crackers to go with, and you’ve got the perfect app. This week we’re offering 15% off wedges of our Solé Cotija cheese.

Rosé Sangria

You’ll be the hit of the party if you show up with this festive concoction. Guaranteed. There are lots of variations of this trendy drink, depending on how extravagant you want to get. But here’s a simple recipe for people who …. well, just want to keep it simple.

South of the Border inspired desserts

Fresh from our bakery just in time for Cinco de Mayo! Introducing two decadent desserts that celebrate the flavors of Latin America:

Tres Leches Cake: a dense, super-moist cake made with three different milks (hence the name) topped with vanilla whipped cream.

Aztec Molten Chocolate Cake: pure chocolate decadence with a Latin American twist. Each cake will serve several people.

Avocados front and center (dips, salads, and entrees)

A little bit of history: Avocados has been cultivated in Mexico for the past 10,000 years. When the Aztecs came into contact with the Spanish in the 1500s (and their basalt mortar and pestle), they began smashing and blending the avocado into what we now call “guacamole.” If you haven’t tried our house-made guacamole (made with fresh market ingredients), now’s the time. Or you can make your own. You’ll find everything you need (and it’s not much: avocados, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno pepper, onions, and lime) in the Farmers’ Fiesta display in the front of the store. Here’s an easy recipe from Bon Appetit.

There are lots of ways to incorporate avocado into the main dish. For some inspiration, check out Food & Wine’s 9 Ways to Eat as Much Avocado as Possible on Cinco de Mayo (great headline, don’t you think?).

Chips and salsa

This is the time of year to splurge on specialty salsa. Tom of Toms Knows Salsa will be here on Friday (from 2 to 6 p.m.) to offer samples of his salsa verde. Or have fun perusing the shelves. We’ve stocked up on several varieties of specialty salsas, including Raiche’s Vermont-made Salsa and Tex’s Best Salsa (made right down the road in White River Junction, Vt).

Felicidad!

Three Reasons to Eat Your Beans

We love beans at Farmers’. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Why? Because they’re good for us  …  and super versatile. Here’s why we think you should love them, too:

A great source of protein

Combine your favorite bean with rice or couscous and you’ll have a complete protein! This makes beans a great choice for vegetarians and vegans looking for an easy way to add more protein to their diet.

Nutrient rich

Beans contain a number of important nutrients, including folate, zinc, iron, magnesium, and fiber, that will help boost your immune system and energy levels.

Antioxidants

Beans are loaded with polyphenals, a type of antioxidant that protects your cells against the effects of free radicals. Polyphenals have been shown to play an important role in improving your heart health and reducing inflammation.

Come, get your beans!

What better time of year to celebrate the almighty bean than during Farmers’ Fiesta?!

In celebration of Cinco de Mayo, we’re taking 10% off our Rancho Gordo beans. And these aren’t just any beans. They’re heirloom beans native to the New World.

Company founder Steve Sando is passionate about his beans. “All of my agricultural pursuits have been based on being someone who likes to cook but gets frustrated by the lack of ingredients, especially those that are native to the New World,” Steve writes on Rancho Gordo’s website.

“One of the things that originally drew me to beans was the fact that they are indigenous to the Americas. … New World food is exciting, tasty, healthy, romantic, and possibly, easier on the earth.”

Some of the best bean dishes are super simple. All you need is garlic, onion, carrots, celery, a few herbs, and your favorite beans, of course, for a nutritious and delicious meal. Check out this how-to video on Rancho Gordo’s website. 

Exciting News from Farmers’!

We’re pleased to announce the purchase of a second site at the former Pete’s Greens Farm Market in Waterbury Center, VT. Don’t worry! Our flagship store in Woodstock will continue to be the store you know and love.

Our new location in Waterbury Center is officially “under construction!”

The Waterbury retail location has been an extension of Pete’s Greens Farm in Craftsbury, VT since 2014 and has become an important and successful part of the Waterbury-Stowe food community. Pete Johnson, owner of Pete’s Greens, reached out to us a few years ago for some retail advice and when Pete started thinking about focusing more on his farming, he gave us a call. Over the past year, Pete’s Greens realized they are farmers first. Farming is what they loved most, what they’re best at, and where they wanted to be putting their time and resources. So that’s where we come in! Retailing is our passion and we’re excited to take this opportunity.

While the Waterbury location’s intent is not to duplicate the 5,000 sq ft Woodstock location, it will keep the focus on our three bottom lines: awesome food, great service, and responsible finance. We want to keep the same vibe and service of our flagship store in Woodstock, but tailor the Waterbury store to the needs and desires of the community. We’re starting renovations and are aiming to be up and running by mid-May. We’ll be sure to keep all of you in the loop with what’s happening, so stay tuned for more information and updates!