I used to think that farmers' markets in the dead of winter were a luxury of the west coast. But believe it or not, we have a winter market right in my town of Natick, MA, where winter temperatures can be in the teens. It is held at Johnson elementary school on saturdays 9am-1pm and started last week. So far it hasn't been very different than our usual farmer's market. It's the same vendors and the produce is lovely. At this point in the year, there is a lot of variety. Of course, the squashes and pumpkins are lovely, but there are a ton of beans, roots, cabbages, eggplants, apples, and leafy greens too. I am sure the selection will get a lot more limited as the weather gets colder, but it will be a wonderful treat to be able to buy local beets, turnips, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, and squashes.
While the leafy greens are still around, I've been cooking them as much as possible. I slightly improved my swiss chard recipe, and today found a surprisingly yummy way to cook kale that requires almost no work. As many good recipes, it was an accident. I was planning to braise kale with white wine and stock. I put it in a hot large skillet with some olive oil, covered, and put in the oven for 10 minutes to give it a chance to wilt before adding the liquids. But at the 10 minute mark, I couldn't get it out of the oven because my little kiddo wanted to nurse. By the time I finally got the kale out of the oven (about 25 minutes after it went in), it was tender enough to eat and the bottom leaves got delightfully crispy. I sprinkled it with salt, tasted, and proclaimed it done. It was so lovely, it really didn't need anything else, but if you want to elaborate a little the heavy cream and Parmesan finish I use on my swiss chard would make this into a richer, more complex dish.
1 large bunch kale, stems removed and discarded
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Wash and dry kale leaves. Chop them coarsely.
Set a 12 inch skillet (ideally one with straight sides)* over medium heat and add olive oil. When the oil shimmers add kale, cover, and place in the middle of the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the leaves are tender and some of them are crispy. Sprinkle with salt to taste and serve.
* If you don't have a skillet large enough to fit all the kale, you can make this dish in a 2 inch deep baking dish such as a 13x9 inch pyrex. Since many baking dishes are not stove top safe, heat the dish with the oil in the oven for 5 minutes before adding kale and covering the dish with foil.