The first farmers' markets were last Saturday. I have whispered this, I know, several times, but I wanted to make it official: The farmers' markets are open in Orleans and Provincetown, and I, for one, am thrilled.
Last Saturday, I came home with the following swag: one bunch of fennel fronds, a bundle each of overwintered parsnips and carrots, a bunch of Ron Backer's asparagus, two leeks, five shoots of spring garlic, four scallions, a pound of rhubarb, one head of butter lettuce, and a stunning spring bouquet. On my night off on Tuesday [insert squeal here!], I roasted the vegetables—all but the lettuce and asparagus—with the last of our sweet potatoes and blue potatoes from downstairs. I tossed them with olive oil, sprinkled them with salt, cranked the oven up to 400 degrees, and that was it.
The results were magnificent—crispy spring alliums, sweet, melting parsnips, caramelized fennel, and just enough potato heft to go around. We ate them with fresh fried butterfish (more on that soon) and rhubarb gingerbread shortcakes (that too), and a salad made by our two new roommates (Hi Rob! Hi Siobhan!). It was absolutely sublime.
There's a list of when all the markets will be opening up over here; the next one will be Falmouth on May 27th. Thank you, farmers, and thank you, spring, and thank you, of course, to all of you.
ROASTED SPRING ALLIUMS WITH ROOT VEGETABLES
Once you get the hang of roasting vegetables, there is really no need to follow a recipe, but for those of you who like one, here it is. Feel free to substitute, add, and completely wing it—everything, this time of year, is good.
2 medium-size sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1/2 pound blue potatoes, scrubbed
4-5 medium-size carrots, scrubbed and trimmed
4-5 medium-size parsnips, scrubbed and trimmed
1 bunch spring fennel, fronds removed
4 scallions, washed and trimmed
4 shoots of spring garlic, washed and trimmed
2 leeks, carefully washed and trimmed
freshly cracked pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Chop the sweet potatoes, blue potatoes, carrots, and parsnips into rounds roughly 1/4-inch thick. Slice the fennel stems, scallions, spring garlic, and leeks into rounds roughly 1/8-inch thick. Toss all of the vegetables together with a good glug of olive oil and sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Spoon them into a large roasting pan (if you only have pie plates and casserole dishes, just use two smaller pans; you want the veggies to be spread fairly thin). Loosely tent the pan(s) with tinfoil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the tinfoil and continue baking until the vegetables are tender in the center and crisped around the edges, 20-35 more minutes. Serve hot.