The Local Food Report: a winter market in Rhode Island

If you have never been to a winter farmers' market, I think you should get in your car right now and begin steering toward Pawtucket, Rhode Island, looking for signs like these:

(poster image courtesy of Semap)

Actually, you should probably wait until Saturday morning, since that's the day the Pawtucket market is held, but you know what I mean. I am all business when it comes to this.

Why on earth should you listen?

Well, for starters, if you like cheese, you ought to sit up and pay attention. They have the best ricotta cheese in the world at this market, made by Naragansett Creamery. And if you like nice greens, and liver for making paté, and dried beans, and homemade, homegrown salsa, and artisanal chocolates, and fresh baked bread, you should be there. And if you even begin inching towards your car at the mere mention of trotters (pigs feet! soft! tender! succulent! exotic!) then you should definitely go. Because they have all this stuff, and more.

You should also check out the cooking demonstrations while you're there. Every week, a group of students and a chef from the Johnson & Wales culinary program show up, shop the market, and start cooking something up. They use what they find that day to create an absolutely enticing dish, and then they start handing out the recipe. The day I visited, a guy named Chef David was making a winter veggie hash. It looked very, very good, and so I tucked the recipe flyer into my pocket and made sure to pick up all the ingredients before I made my way home.

In my own kitchen, it was just as good as it had smelled at the market. It's not that the pan-browned potatoes were all that—they weren't groundbreaking or unique, just a typical breakfast hash—but they were a good reminder of what to do with a heap of winter market fixings and a few fresh eggs.

I should add that I sprinkled in a pinch of cumin to mix it up a little and also swapped some of the potatoes for turnips and added in some frozen summer squash, zucchini, and eggplant. Oh! and I sprinkled the piping hot final product with a bit of grated cheddar, which I heartily endorse as a fine touch.

All in all, I'd say hash browns are the perfect way to start a Sunday morning—which, incidentally—dawns right after Saturday's market. Imagine that.


2 cups potatoes, diced
1 cup turnips, diced
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, diced
1 cup chopped zucchini, summer squash, and/or eggplant
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

In a medium-size bowl, toss potatoes and turnips with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat up a large cast iron skillet, and throw in potatoes and turnips. Cook until they begin to soften, stirring occasionally. (This can take 20 to 30 minutes.)

In the same bowl, toss vegetables (mine were frozen, then thawed, then drained to help remove some of the liquid, and chopped finely) with the remaining olive oil, curry powder, salt and pepper to taste, and all of the onion. When the potatoes and turnips are almost done, throw this veggie mixture in and cook for several minutes longer.

Serve hot, with grated cheese sprinkled over top (it should melt and blend in). An egg over easy makes a nice accompaniment, along with a bit of hot sauce.


Andrea said...

I'll second the must-go sentiments for this winter market. Living on the Cape, we only manage to go a few times a winter, but we are sure to stock up. Beans, apples, potatoes, onions, cheese and ooo you didn't mention the fresh corn tortillas! This time we got leaf lard, too which is now rendered and ready for an apple and rhubarb (from the freezer) pie!

Elspeth said...

I'm glad you've been! I did have my eye on those tortillas, but I didn't end up bringing any home...pie sounds delicious! You'll have to pass along a recipe...

Corey said...

Oh good news! I didn't know about this farmer's market. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

Elspeth said...


It's certainly worth a trip if you have the chance...I especially recommend stopping at the Naragansett Creamery stand, and buying some of their queso blanco.


Couves said...

I'll definitely have to check that out -- it sounds very promising. I'm on the lookout for some purple sprouting broccoli.

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