Peppers are stealing the show these days at the markets, appearing at farmers’ stalls in a rainbow of shapes and sizes, flavours and spiciness. As versatile as they are nutritious (they contain more than 200% of your daily vitamin C intake), peppers can be stewed, stuffed, sauteed, dried, or – our favourite – eaten raw like an apple.
Char them outside on your barbeque for maximum flavour explosion served with a side of garlic yogurt sauce.
String them up for use later in the season – chili ristras make a colourful display in your kitchen and can be added to recipes all winter long.
Freeze them (no blanching required) after cutting them into desired portions. Best used in cooking, not eaten raw.
While peppers are found in many recipes, anyone who’s ever tucked into a bowl of Hungarian lesco or eaten chili rellanos knows that peppers can make for an amazing, stand alone dish.
This week’s In Season recipe, which comes from our friends at Vancouver-based design firm Danica Studio, incorporates both peppers and cherry tomatoes in a panzanella-style dish that serves up all the amazing flavours of late summer.
Sweet Pepper + Cherry Tomato Panzanella
By: Danica Studio
3 sweet peppers
Red wine vinegar
2 –4 slices bread (depending on size)
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup small mozzarella balls (or quartered medium mozzarella balls)
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
Handful torn basil
Salt & pepper
- To toast the bread, drizzle olive oil onto the bread slices and place in the oven to toast.
- Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and drizzle with some olive oil, salt, pepper and red wine vinegar.
- Slice the peppers into 1-inch pieces and sauté in a pan with olive oil until softened. Drizzle with red wine vinegar when done.
- Toss all of the salad components together and let sit for 10 minutes before serving so the bread can absorbed some of the juices. Add a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper.
It’s high season for berries at the markets right now, and we know you’re all hard at work jamming, baking, and preserving them at their peak.
Our vendors are busy too – not only the farmers, but our artisanal food producers who are using seasonal berries in a number of amazing food items in celebration of our 7th Annual Berry Festival this week.
Look out for micro batched Verrry Berrry Shrub from Mixers & Elixirs, limited edition Blueberry & Lavender Corn Bread Cakes from Nidhi’s Cuisine, traditional Blueberry Pieorgies from Old Country Pierogi, and Blueberry Pakoras from Mandair Farms.
Our friends at Odd Society Spirits are also joining in the berry game with a number of seasonally inspired cocktails like their gin-based BC Bramble and High Stakes Lemonade, featuring BC blueberries.
Our Berry Festival kicks off Wednesday, July 12 at Main St. Station Market and culminates with our annual Berry Pie Bake Off on July 16 at Mount Pleasant Market. Don’t miss farm-fresh berry tastings, kids activities, pie sampling, and special edition recipes like the yummy Blueberry Lemon Pudding Pie below from the BC Blueberry Council.
Blueberry Lemon Pudding Pie
- 2 large (100 g) eggs
- ¼ cup (35 g) cornstarch
- ½ cup (80 g) granulated sugar
- ¾ cup (175 ml) 35% whipping cream
- ½ cup (120 ml) whole milk
- ½ cup (115 g) salted butter, softened
- ¼ cup (60 ml) lemon juice
- 4 cups (600 g) B.C. blueberries, fresh or frozen – divided
- 1¾ cups (240 g) graham cookies crumbs
- ¼ tsp (pinch) cinnamon
- ⅔ cup (150 g) salted butter, melted
- For the filling, whisk the eggs in a medium bowl and set aside.
- In a saucepan, combine the cornstarch, sugar, whipping cream and milk. Cook mixture on medium heat, whisking constantly until heated and thickened for 6-7 minutes. Do not boil.
- Whisk half the hot mixture into the eggs. Return to the sauce pan with the remaining mixture, then whisk in the butter and lemon juice.
- Reheat mixture on low heat for another 3 minutes, again whisking constantly, do not boil.
- Transfer to a clean bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour until cooled.
- For the crust, mix the cookie crumbs and cinnamon in a bowl; add the melted butter and mix. Transfer to a 9” pie dish, and press mixture evenly to the bottom and sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Fold 2 cups of the blueberries into the chilled pudding, then pour into the pie shell and top with remaining blueberries.
- Refrigerate for 1 – 2 hours. Serve chilled with a dollop of whipped cream.
Jasbir Mandair has been coming to VFM markets since early 2016, and currently sells her berries, mixed vegetables, and hot pakoras at Riley Park, Trout Lake, Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant, and Main St. Station Markets.
She has been growing commercially in British Columbia since 1983, but her farming roots go much deeper to a childhood spent on her family’s farm in the Punjab. VFM staffers recently had the opportunity to talk with her and tour the farm she runs with her son Sajan in Abbotsford.
Q: Both you and your husband Surinder were born into farming in India. Can you tell us what part of India you’re from, and what kinds of crops your families grew?
A: We farmed in the Punjab. My village was a place called Akara in district Jhalandar, and my husband was from Ghari Baksha. We grew corn, wheat, rice, and sugar cane.
Q: How does farming in India differ from farming in BC?
A: Farming in India was different for two reasons. First, the technology of the time period back in the 60s meant everything was still done by hand and animals such as oxen. Even the watering was done manually – we used to have big wells and the water was drawn by a chain attached to a bucket.
The second difference was the crops themselves – they are completely different from growing and harvesting berries. You cut the wheat at the base and put into bundles; the grain was used for food and the straw remaining was used for feed for the animals. With berries, you pick it and pack it into boxes, but you leave the plant untouched.
Q: What is the most difficult thing about farming in BC?
A: BC is the best place for farming, there is no real difficulty… the weather is good, land is good, water is absolutely the best.
The difficulty is in the work of the farm and finding labor, since the new generation isn’t interested to work on the farm. The other difficulty is selling the product to actually make a living. We can have a really good crop but the price that is paid from the cannery is sometimes not even enough to make ends meet. The profit margin isn’t there – the blueberry can be absolutely amazing but the processor barely pays anything for them.
Q: How many family members are involved in the Mandair operation?
A: There are about 5-30, very dependent on the crop and how much it is producing, and the time of the year. We currently have 5 core “staff members” – my son Sajan, his fiancé Veerpal Kingra and her sister Ramneek, Dildar Virdi, and myself. Now that we have raspberry, we have about 20-25 pickers that come to pick by hand.
Q: What’s your favourite crop to grow?
A: I love all three berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) that we grow but if I had to pick a favourite, I would say strawberries!
Mandair Farms are also known for their great selection of market vegetables, including the popular Punjabi ingredient called Tinde, or apple gourd. Here’s how Jasbir prepares them at home…
Mandair Farms-style Tinde
6 apple gourds, cut into 4-6 pieces
1 onion, sliced thin
1 tomato, diced
1 tsp. cooking oil
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, cut fine or minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. tumeric
Salt and pepper to taste
- Sauté onion, garlic, ginger, and cumin on medium heat for one minute in a teaspoon of cooking oil.
- Add the tomato, tumeric, salt and pepper into the sauté mix and cook for 5-6 minutes on medium low heat.
- Add in the apple gourd and cook until they are soft. For a more pasty sauce, add 1/4-1/2 cup of water.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with rice or roti. Also try stuffing it into a tortilla with some sour cream for a delicious, plant-based lunch.
You can find Mandair Farms weekly at Main St. Station, Riley Park, Trout Lake, Kitsilano, and Mount Pleasant Markets. To search for their complete market schedule, click here.
With the recent stretch of sunny days we’ve been having (yay summer!), all kinds of delicious fruits and veggies are starting to appear in stalls around the markets. One sure sign of warmer weather is the arrival of summer squash, those beefy, green and yellow gems that make a budget-savvy addition to your summer pastas, salads, and BBQ fixings.
Cara Abrahams from Abundant Acres Family Farm in Chilliwack recommends marinating the squash with oil, vinegar, and garlic for 30 mins before cooking it on the barbecue in a grill basket. She and her husband Andy grow several varieties of summer squash, which they sell at their stall on Thursdays at the Downtown Farmers Market.
One of her favourite ways to preserve the abundance of these famously productive plants is by pickling them, mixing the different varieties in a single jar to make for an attractive display in your winter larder.
Next up on the seasonal roster is green peas – those amazing morsels of summer sweetness that taste best when you pop them straight out of the pod and into your mouth.
“I’m lazy and I like to eat them raw, ” says Andrea Wilkins y Martínez, farm director at Sole Food Street Farms. Among many other crops, Martínez and her team grow sugar snap peas just a couple blocks away from where they sell them each Wednesday at Main St. Station Farmers Market.
Whether you prefer English, snow, or snap varieties, green peas are amazingly versatile and packed with nutrients. North Vancouver-based holistic nutritionist Vanessa Vorbach uses shelled peas she sources from the markets to make a fresh pea hummus that’s a nice change from regular chickpea dips.
“I have a lot of clients who complain that chickpea hummus makes them bloated, so this recipe offers a great alternative,” says Vorbach. “Green peas are also rich in protein and compared to chickpeas, have less carbohydrates, fat and are overall lower in calories. On top of that, you get plenty of Vitamin A, C and minerals, such as Manganese and Magnesium”. She also recommends adding fresh peas to smoothies for a sweet and creamy protein boost – pow!
Fresh Pea Hummus
by Vanessa Vorbach
2 cups fresh shelled peas
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup of your favourite fresh herb. Dill, parsley, cilantro, basil or mint work great!
1-2 gloves of garlic
salt, pepper to taste
Optional: Dijon mustard
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add peas. Cook for about 2 minutes, drain and rinse them with cold water.
2. Add all ingredients in a food processor and pulse for about 30 minutes. Add a bit of water or oil if you like the consistency on the creamier side.
3. Adjust seasoning to your liking. Add more garlic, salt, or lemon to taste and some pepper
– as a dip with sliced cucumbers, carrots, celery, apple
– for sandwiches or lettuce wraps on a flatbread with grilled vegetables
– as a pesto with zucchini noodles, olives and capers
– on a sweet potato toast with sliced avocado
Looking for you closest neighbourhood farmers market? Visit our homepage for a complete listing of our seven summer location!
New crops are hitting the market every week thanks to the sun and just enough rain on the fields. Here is this week’s Fresh Box contents:
Heirloom Tomatoes – Taves Family Farm – some boxes got two small ones, some got one larger one.
Fennel – One Love Farm – I couldn’t leave these beauties out of the box this week – so tender and fresh. Shave them into a salad or on top of whatever you’re eating – so good!
Strawberries – Douglas Farm – Coral Anne Douglas only grows strawberries on her small family farm in Mission. Eat these first as local berries are picked ripe so they don’t last long!
French Breakfast Radishes – SOLE Food Farms – radishes are having a great year and who doesn’t like a few in a salad or eat them with butter or as a filling for finger sandwiches. Pinkies up!
Buttercrunch Lettuce – Abundant Acre Farm – the greens from this farm are always delectable and make the best salads.
Mini Cucumbers – Abundant Acre Farm – mini versions of the long english cukes you see in the stores – these are super fresh but if you store them, keep them in plastic so they don’t lose their moisture.
English Peas – Nature Village Farm – I might have forgotten to list these on your insert this week but don’t overlook these lovelies. English peas are shelling peas, meaning the pod isn’t meant to be eaten (although some do). Sprinkle into pasta or in risotto – they don’t need more than a few moments in the heat to bring out their best – or eat them straight from the pod for an alfresco treat.
Order your July 6th Fresh Box online HERE.