The Winter Market has surprises
By TOM YATES
Early last Saturday morning, I planned to quietly slip out of the house for a quick trip to the indoor winter farmers’ market. Although it’s a fairly short walk from our house, I decided to drive because it was freezing outside. I grabbed my Martha Stewart market-designated canvas tote bag and drove down our driveway.
I love the serenity of the winter farmers’ market. It was calm and quiet with gentle guitar music humming through hidden speakers. It felt great to be back at the market after the holi-days.
Quarles Farm had canned vege-tables, salsas, chow-chows, relishes, breads, and coffee cakes. Even at 9 am, I couldn’t resist a taste of their stewed beef wafting heavenly aromas from cranked up slow cookers. Samples? Sure.
Elmwood Farm offered the moth-erload. They had the usual suspects: baskets of watermelon radishes, beets, turnips, black radishes, sweet pota-toes, collard greens, winter squash, gorgeous celeriac, garlic, organic eggs, and chicken.
I was totally surprised by bags of fresh English Bordeaux spinach. Really? In January? With deep green lacy leaves highlighted by bright red veins and stems, the spinach reminded me of delicate swiss chard. Appar-ently, it’s a hardy variety that grows profusely until temperatures dip into the teens.
I filled my bag with organic eggs, spinach, Stripetti squash, garlic, and sweet potatoes before driving home.
It’s been a while since our kitchen countertops were covered with market bounty. I was giddy and couldn’t wait to play with my stash.
I wanted to try something different with the small sweet potatoes, so I adapted a recipe from Fine Cooking and threw together individual sweet potato and goat cheese galettes. Crazy, right? Goat cheese and sweet potatoes? Weird, fascinating, fabulous, and a far cry from sweet potato casserole.
Before getting started, I slushed through our snow-covered back deck to snip handfuls of fresh thyme and chives. I pulled out my mandolin and sliced the sweet potatoes into thin rounds. After buttering small indi-vidual ramekins, I filled them with alternating layers of sweet potatoes, parmigiano reggiano, crumbled goat cheese, fresh thyme, salt, and pepper before ending with a final layer of goat cheese.
After preheating the oven to 375 degrees, I placed the galettes onto a foil-lined sheet pan and slid them into the oven to bake alongside a pan of roasting whole grape tomatoes.
Because the individual galettes were small, I checked on them frequently. I burn stuff…a lot. Really. After 45 minutes, they were beauti-fully browned and tender, so I pulled them from the oven to rest.
After a glass of wine or three, I gave the snow-kissed spinach a quick rinse before sauteing it in olive oil with minced garlic, shallots, and julienned red bell peppers.
I plated the wilted spinach and nestled the sweet potato goat cheese galettes into the spinach nests. After scattering fresh julienned red peppers over the spinach and galettes, I slid tart sticky pomegranate glazed pork chops onto our plates before tumbling roasted grape tomatoes to the side. Lemon zest and sliced chives finished them off.
It was a ridiculous riot of flavor. Really. The earthy spinach balanced the tart sweet moistness of the pork chops with bits of pungent garlic, sweet red pepper, and meltingly soft shallots. The sweet potato goat cheese galettes were ridiculous — delicate, soft, and sweet. The nutty parmigiano added subtle saltiness while the fresh thyme provided floral undertones. The goat cheese profoundly elevated the simple galettes to another level. Suspended between layers of thinly sliced sweet potatoes, the soft goat cheese had the mouthfeel of tangy soft marshmallows.
Check out the winter farmers’ market.
It’s full of surprises.
This article also appears on page 16 of the January 2020 print edition of Ace.
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