Portland Farmers Market, Portland, Ore.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

kale rapini on Mt. Hood

kale rapini from the market photographed on the snowy flank of Mt. Hood

farmers market at portland state

This was the first market day of the year for the Portland Farmers Market that will convene every Saturday through the middle of December on this grassy, tree-lined mall in the middle of the Portland State University campus. The weather was suitably drizzly for this early in the spring, but that didn’t deter shoppers or farmers. The standout crop of the day was giant leeks, which were everywhere, and piles of the flowering tops of various greens, sold as “rapini.” That word, by most accounts, is the Italian name for broccoli rabe, not a word that means the flower bolt of any green. But farmers market vendors and shoppers here didn’t get that memo. Tables are piled high with the flowering tops of kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage and arugula labeled as “rapini.” I bought a fat bundle of the kale rapini, and it was wonderfully succulent — nothing like the stringy, bitter bolted tops of the greens I used to grow in sunny Los Angeles. The superior product here, I’m sure, is thanks to the cool, dreary months of winter on Oregon’s coastal plains.

There were also lots of braising and salad greens, root crops and storage apples in the market today, as well as fresh and smoked local seafood.

– Mark Thompson

Portland State University
South Park Blocks, between SW Hall and SW Montgomery
Portland, Ore.
Saturdays, mid March through mid Dec.
8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. (March-Oct.)
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Nov. and Dec.)

slide show

What I Bought

Asian salad mix
Asian salad mix (top); chicory salad mix (below)
Price: $8/lb. for salad mixes

These salad mixes (above and below), as well as the endive and radicchio, are from Spring Hill Organic Farm, in Albany, in the Williamette Valley between Portland and Eugene.

chicory braising mix

Chicory salad mix

kale rapini and leek
lacinato kale rapini (left) and leek
Price: $1 for leek
$3.50 for bundle of kale rapini

Source: Persephone Farm, Lebanon, Ore.

miner's lettuce and water cress
miner’s lettuce (top left) and water cress
Price: $1 for water cress
$1.50 for miner’s lettuce

I recently interviewed Marco Shaw, a chef who developed a loyal following in Portland, where he ran a restaurant for nearly a decade before moving to a restaurant in North Carolina. Among the food items he misses, he says, are the interesting foraged crops available in Oregon. Wild mushrooms (see below) are the most famous of Oregon’s foraged foods, but there are others, including fiddlehead ferns (which were offered by one vendor today) and miner’s lettuce. This pristine bundle of miner’s lettuce was surely cultivated not foraged, but the plant grows wild everywhere in the cool, forested hillsides of Oregon, and was eaten my miner’s in centuries past, hence its name.

dried chanterelle mushrooms

chanterelle mushrooms
Price: $3/bag

carrot varieties
parsnip, and jet black, unknown variety, crème delite, purple haze and white satin carrots
Price: $1.99/lb

Source: DeNobles Farm

apples, tamarillo and rangpur lime
(top row, left to right) spice, winter banana and Pacific rose apples; (bottom) tamarillo and rangpur lime
Price: $1.50 for spice and Pacific rose
$2.75 for winter banana
$1 for tamarillo
$.50 for rangpur lime

Source: Draper Girls Country Farm, in Hood River (apples)

salmon jerky
salmon jerky (above) and wheatberries (below) 
Price: $3 for bag of wheatberries