Market happenings: The Lafayette Farmers Market returns for another season this week, kicking off its first market 4-8 p.m. Thursday with activities lining the 400 block of East Simpson Street.
In addition to vegetables, fruit, prepared food and packaged goods, visitors can enjoy music and beer and wine from East Simpson Coffee Company both on its patio and down the market street. Music acts for opening day include Laurie & Lorrie, Harmony & Brad and Food for Bears. The Wow Children’s Museum will be on hand, featuring kids activities and the market will be stocked with fun games, like giant Jenga and Connect Four. Every fourth Thursday of the month, the market will host a live Street Chalk-Off competition among local artists with a theme of “What Makes Lafayette Great.” Each artist will compete monthly for a chance to win the $700 grand prize at the final market (there is a $75 materials stipend provided). Interested artists should email email@example.com.
In season now: At local markets, shoppers can stock up on arugula, asparagus, beef, bison, bok choy, carrots, cheese, chicken, greenhouse cucumbers, eggs, goat meat, greenhouse tomatoes, flowers, honey, lettuce, plant starts, pea shoots, pork, micro-greens, mizuna, mushrooms, rhubarb, scallions, shallots, spinach, spicy greens, spring onions and turnips.
Lots of this, please: In season are the sweet, mild and tasty Japanese turnips.
The farmer says: Turnips have a bad reputation, as the old varieties and ways of cooking the root often leave a bit to be desired. Turnips are often seen as a vegetable with a bitter taste, a pungent smell and a tough texture. For these reasons, and their ability to lend themselves to Colorado growing, Eric Skokan of Black Cat Farm Table Bistro specializes in only Japanese varieties.
Japanese turnips, a member of the mustard family, are close cousins to radishes.
“Think of it as a spectrum,” said Skokan. “Turnips, old-school American style, heirloom turnips are at the spicy-strong end of the spectrum. Next, are rutabagas. They are a little richer in terms of flavor, a little less spicy and more palatable. At the other end of the spectrum, you have the light, spicy and thin radishes that have a wet, soft, crunchy texture. Japanese lie somewhere in between.”
These turnips can be eaten both raw and cooked. Skokan said he grows three spring varieties: magenta, Hinona Kabu and Hakurei. Magenta is good for roasting, Hinona for pickling and the Hakurei variety is delightful when eaten raw, like an apple, Skokan said.
Visitors will find the magenta and Hinona Kabu varieties only at Black Cat’s booth in Boulder. But Hakurei turnips are a bit more prevalent at the markets and can be found at Aspen Moon Farm, Croft Family Farm, Cure Organic Farm and Ollin Farms. The farmers say that some turnips are coming in a little later than others, so be sure to shop around.
How to prepare: Be sure to wash the turnips, and beyond that, it’s all about personal preference. Dice turnips into a mixed green salad, cook turnips with the greens attached, grill them or simply enjoy them raw and whole.
Goes with: Turnips pair well with duck, chicken, pork, carrots, potatoes, onions and local greens.
How to store it: Keep unwashed turnips in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, and store the greens separately. When freezing turnips, make sure the root vegetable is cut into cubes or fully cooked.
Good to know: This list represents a general overview of the week’s harvest, not every item that is being produced locally. Some farms do not grow or have ready some items on the list.
Boulder Farmers Market
13th Street and Canyon Boulevard
4 p.m. – 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Oct. 2
- Wednesday’s music from Harmony & Brad.
8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturdays through Nov. 23
- Saturday’s music from Crooked Fret Stringband
Lafayette Farmers Market
400 Block of East Simpson Street
4 p.m. – 8p.m. Saturdays through Sep. 26
- Saturday’s music from Laurie & Lorrie, Harmony & Brad and Food for Bears
No market on July 4.
Longmont Farmers Market
Boulder County Fairgrounds
8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays through Nov. 23
- Saturday’s music by Tim Ostdiek
Union Station Farmers Market
Denver’s Union Station
9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 26
- Saturday’s music by 4TELL
Grilled Japanese Turnips
1 bunch Hinona Kabu turnips
1 bunch Magenta turnips
1 bunch Hakerai turnips
1 bunch asparagus
1 red onion
2 stalks of green garlic
1 bunch parsley
Olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste
Directions: Remove the greens from the turnips. Keep the greens in a plastic bag for a later date. Cut onion and round turnips in half. Keep them large, so they don’t fall through the grill. Lightly brush all vegetables with olive oil. Put on the grill and flip every 5 to 8 minutes to allow for dark grill marks — or until cooked to desired texture.
Chop full bunch of parsley and all grilled ingredients roughly. Toss in 1/4 cup of olive oil, or amount desired. Squeeze the juice of half of a lemon and toss with salt and pepper. Voila!
—Recipe adapted from a conversation with chef, farmer and owner Eric Skokan, Black Cat Farm Table Bistro, blackcatboulder.com