I had last Thursday off and went over to the farmers; market to check out the weekly offerings. Whenever I go to a farmers’ market, I make sure to do at least one full lap of looking and smelling before I buy anything. Just walking around, watching what’s going on and inhaling all of the fresh scents from the various stands.
I let my nose make a lot of the decisions as to where I end up making my purchases. Although it is the fruit and herbs that really stand out, along with the baked goods, of course, when you walk through some tents, you can smell much more. You can smell the freshness and that’s where I want to be.
I also love watching the interaction between the buyers and the sellers. Watching the looks on people’s faces as they try a sample can be priceless. It also can tell me a little of what to expect from that stand as you can see them make various faces that show tartness or sweetness in their bite, or with some of the stands selling spreads and prepared foods, the looks say quite a bit about one’s taste buds, especially after I try it, too. For example, if you watch someone try an olive spread and that person loves olives, and then you watch my face after taking a bite, you’ll see two different reactions. I like olives, but they are not near the top of my preference list.
Now, as I’m walking around the market, I’m also looking for ideas for this article and a conversation I had with Darren came to mind. We were at a barbecue and he was eating some coleslaw and commented on it. He said it tasted pretty good but that it was too fresh. This was something I could relate to and as he asked me about it. He said that he prefers coleslaw that’s at least a day old; I knew where he was coming from. This is one of those individual preferences and, in this case, my taste buds are the same way. We both like coleslaw that has marinated in the dressing more than just having the dressing coating the slaw. We both like the flavor to work its way into the cabbage, but its individual preference and I know a lot of folks that like it made-2-minutes-ago better.
Since coleslaw is one of the more popular summer salads, I thought I would see what ingredients they had at the market and change the normal coleslaw up a bit. Coleslaw is usually a simple salad of cabbage and carrots shredded with a sweetened mayonnaise and vinegar dressing, but hey, we aren’t baking this so, I’m changing it around to include more veggies.
Cabbage is a vegetable that’s in the same family as broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts, so you know it has to be good for you and it is. With all the various fresh veggies around now, we might as well take advantage of them. As you look at the list of vegetables I am using, you can, as always, add or subtract veggies to suite your own taste buds.
As for whether or not you like your salad more marinated as compared with freshly dressed, I’ll leave up to you. I will say that because of the vegetables I’m using, this salad will wilt a little faster than traditional coleslaw, so you really don’t have to let it sit for too long to absorb the dressing.
½ small head of green cabbage
1 head of broccoli with the stem
2 yellow squash
2 celery sticks
3 oz. bean sprouts
½ C mayonnaise
4 T cider vinegar
2 T honey
Fresh ground or cracked black pepper and salt to taste
Shred or grate the cabbage and carrots. Grate the broccoli stem and cut the tops into flowerets. Blanch the broccoli for a quick half minute, and then cool immediately and dry. Grate the outer flesh of the zucchini and yellow squash not using the seeded midsection.
I like to peel the celery, so it isn’t stringy before grating it. Thinly slice or grate the radishes and add the sprouts. Toss all these together. Mix the dressing adding the ingredients to taste and then toss with the coleslaw.
Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is known for his creative use of fresh ingredients. He has been a chef for PGA’s Memorial Tournament for more than 15 years and ran the main kitchen at the World Games. For more information and archived copies of Stir it Up, visit chefsmitty.com. Smitty welcomes questions and comments at [email protected], [email protected] or (530) 412-3598.