Know your food, know your farmers, know your kitchen.
—Joel Salatin, Farmer
Going to a local farmers market was never something I did as a child. I was well into adulthood before I experienced the sheer pleasure and delight in discovering and shopping for local seasonal fruits and vegetables at a market. Now, I look forward to going every week and wish we had more market days during the week.
I regularly visit two in my area on Saturday and/or Sunday mornings. There’s usually an abundance of fresh foods, vibrant colors, enticing scents and a whole lot of atmosphere—live music, kids laughing, plenty of sampling, vendors passionately talking about the treasures they’ve grown… ah… it’s the best way to buy food! It’s also better for the ecosystem, the next generation and our bodies. I always feel a little more connected to the earth and my body each time I visit.
Eventually, I would love to have my own garden, but for now, I’m happy to support those who are trying to make an imprint on the earth through growing natural and organic produce for sale.
Now that I have my own child, I’d like him to grow up experiencing trips to the market as part of his normal weekly routine. I’d also like him to eventually know how to garden and grow his own food, how to nourish the earth and tread lightly on our lovely planet. I would like him to instinctively eat squash in winter, asparagus in spring, and enjoy juicy tomatoes in summer’s sweltering heat.
Although the year-round availability of most fruits and vegetables in supermarkets has made it challenging to eat seasonally, it’s not impossible. I’m still learning what’s seasonal and what’s not, but regular trips to the markets have been my wonderful and delicious teacher! Here’s what I made with the spring rabe I recently bought at my local farmers market. When my husband (Mr. World Citizen) tried it he said, “Yum, it tastes like spring!”
Spring Rabe, Asparagus and Tofu Bowls
Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen
1 cup brown rice
1, 12-14 ounce package extra firm tofu, drained
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided
2 bunches spring rage, cut in 2-inch pieces
1 small bunch asparagus, tough ends removed, stems cut in thirds, tips set aside
½ cup chopped green onions, plus more for garnishing
1 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons soy sauce, to taste
black or regular sesame seeds
Rinse and cook the brown rice according to instructions.
Cut the tofu into cubes and set on a few paper towels or dish towel to drain. In a large mixing bowl, combine chili garlic sauce, lime juice, vinegar, ginger, soy sauce and salt. Add the tofu and stir, making sure tofu is well coated. Set aside to marinate for about 30 minutes.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, warm the coconut and sesame oils. When the pan is hot, add the tofu and it’s marinade and saute for 4-5 minutes. Add the rabe, asparagus (except for tips), coconut milk, remaining tablespoon sesame oil and soy sauce and saute until the vegetables are warmed through. About 3 more minutes. Lower heat and add the asparagus tips and greens onions, stir and adjust seasonings.
Serve each bowl with brown rice, the tofu vegetable mixture in sauce, and avocado slices. Sprinkle and garnish with sesame seeds, green onions, lime wedges and fresh parsley.
Martine’s notes: The spring rabe in this recipe can be substituted with broccoli rabe or other variety of broccoli. You could also have fun with it and add other vegetables of your liking. Tofu on it’s own is quite bland in flavor so be sure to adjust salt to suit your taste for the tofu marinade. Tofu easily absorbs other flavors. I would have liked to use more chili garlic sauce in the marinade, but kept the flavor more mild for the rest of my family. Instead, I added more chili to my bowl just before I ate it.
Finally, I used an organic Japanese short-grain brown rice called Koshihikari. It is the crown jewel of Japanese short-grain rice. It’s noted for its sweet, nutty taste and slight stickiness (great for sushi). However, you could use any variety of brown rice, or even try another grain, such as farro. I almost did.