Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market, Santa Barbara, Calif.

cherimoya in the Santa Ynez Valley
A cherimoya from the market, photographed in the Santa Ynez Valley

Santa Barbara Farmers Market

Saturday, March 20, 2010

You’ll find a mind-boggling array of produce at this outstanding farmers market any time of year, which is why I keep returning. Here, I never fail to find something that is new to me – fava bean leaves, today. Besides the produce, I enjoy the early morning drive up the coast from Los Angeles. And scenic detours in the area abound, including one to the Santa Ynez Valley north of Santa Barbara, and a trip offshore to Santa Rosa Island that I took after this market visit. I took some of my purchases along for the ride, to photograph and then picnic with.

Here are reports from my visits to this market one year in February and another year in June.

– Mark Thompson

Santa Barbara St. at Cota St.
Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
(805) 962-5354

slide show

What I Bought

long stemmed artichokes
Price: $2.50 lb.

Long stemmed artichokes are one of those things that you can’t readily find except in good farmers markets. Artichokes with long stems couldn’t get packed and shipped as easily, depriving supermarket shoppers of one of the best parts of the artichoke: the stems, peeled with a vegetable peeler, sliced and simmered in butter, lemon juice and garlic.

citrus fruit
(top photo) tangerines, satsumas, grapefruit, blood oranges, lemon, lime; (right) strawberries
Price: $2/lb. for citrus fruit
$3 for basket of strawberries

cherimoyas and guavas
cherimoyas, atemoyas, guavas and avocados
Price: $6 for largest cherimoya; $2 each for smaller ones
$3/lb. for pink guava

fava bean leaves
pea shoots, money beans, fava beans leaves
Price: $2.25/lb. for fava leaves
$7/lb. for pea shoots
$5/lb. for money beans

The fava clippings, from plants that will soon produce beans, were offered for sale by Fairview Gardens, in Goleta, for use as a salad green, stir fry vegetable, or pesto ingredient. I had never seen fava leaves for sale, but why not? Pea shoots have a devoted following, and the leaves of other legumes are nutritious. I took home a bag full of fava shoots and found them to be a revelation, especially, in my opinion, in pesto.

frilly mustard and dandelion greens
frilly red mustard, baby scallions, dandelion greens
Price: $2.25 each for bunches of scallions and mustard
$1 for bunch for dandelion leaves

grapefruit in Channel Islands
grapefruit from market on Santa Cruz Island