Fabulous farmers’ market finds

Todd Karol and Little Roots Farm’s mushroom powder display. | Priya Hutner

It’s a warm, sunny morning when I arrive at the Truckee Certified Farmers Market at Truckee River Regional Park. I am on a quest to explore what’s in season and what might be unique, out of the norm and different to use when preparing a meal.

The enticing aroma of fresh herbs, the allure of juicy peaches and the temptation of freshly baked goods beckon me. I’m drawn to booths where vendors proudly display their unique bounty.

The first vendor I encounter is The Little Fish Company. A splendid array of fresh fish is arranged on a bed of ice. I spot the salmon and halibut, which are delightful, but I prepare those often. I would like to know if he has anything else that piques my interest. He delves under the ice to unveil Chilean sea bass and swordfish. The thought of a luscious grilled swordfish tantalizes my taste buds.

My next stop is Lost Sierra Honey Co. The honey is fabulous. Jars of honey and a lovely array of beeswax candles are on display. I am preparing a Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken and George Serdyukov’s honey will be one of the ingredients.

Kyle Shand of Pop, Crunch & Munch from South Lake Tahoe is new to this year’s market. Shand prepares sweet and spicy, and savory and spicy flavors. Kettle corn flavors include original organic, caramel, cheddar and Fruit Loops-flavored popcorn. Behind Shand is his large American-made kettle corn machine that pops his non-GMO kettle corn. I buy the organic sweet and spicy popcorn and a cheddar for snacking. I think I’ll add some of his corn to a fresh, tossed,mixed green salad.

Lovely potted herbs for planting and a beautiful array of fresh produce catch my attention across the way. The lovely Shari Beard, a local yoga teacher, is standing behind the Towani Organic Farm’s table. I ask her about quelites or wild greens, also known as lambsquarters. She holds them up and explains that she sautés them or adds them to salads. Guy Baldwin, the owner of Towani Organic Farm, is standing near a large bin of fava beans. Just picked, he opens one and reveals the inner beans. I can’t help thinking about Hannibal Lecter when it comes to fava beansand Guy agrees. He peels the waxy shell and pops the tender bean into his mouth. He suggests grilling them. I think this will go well with the swordfish. I fill a bag and contemplate how to prepare them when I get home.

I head to Bradley and Son’s booth with a variety of grass-fed beef. Nick Bradley grabs a tomahawk steak to show me. Next week, that is on my list to prepare. I eye the Bradley Grass Fed Beef product list and Korean ribs, oxtail, rib-eye, New York, T-bone and marrow bonesstand out. This booth is a carnivore’s delight.

I continue to peruse the stands. Antonio Garza of Feeding Crane Farm displays a lovely array of produce. A bin of kohlrabi and rhubarb stands out; both are in season now. Garza prefers his kohlrabi cooked, although he points out many folks love it raw in their salad. He holds it up and explains that the tough exterior must be peeled before use. I love kohlrabi roasted with a touch of olive oil and salt.

Todd Karol of Little Roots Farm is the go-to for beautiful mushrooms and micro greens. This year his booth includes dried gourmet mushrooms, shitake mushroom sauce, pickled mushroomsand various mushroom powders, all beautifully packaged. I’m already planning my next meal.

I round out my visit to the Blackwall Bakery stand. Grace Kerfoot from Tahoma is sold out of everything, and it’s only 11:30 a.m. I am sadly disappointed. The pistachio, candied grapefruit peel and strawberry jam pastry sound amazing. She tells me she uses local products to make her loaves of bread and pastries.

A friend of hers came from South Lake Tahoe to procure a large box of baked goods. Kerfoot opens the box, revealing a variety of luscious croissants and pastries. Kerfoot’s friend offers to share and pulls out the aforementioned pistachio pastry from the box. She breaks off a piece and we both bite into it. It is flaky, buttery, nutty and citrusy all in one bite. This could be addictive. I thank her friend for sharing her precious goods.

Priya’s Flavorful Fava Bean Pesto
From the kitchen of Priya Hutner

1 ½ pounds fava beans
3 T olive oil
1 clove garlic
2 T walnuts or pine nuts
2 T fresh basil
2 t coarse salt
¼ C Romano cheese

Boil fava beans for 3 minutes, then dunk in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Remove beans from the pods. Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. This pesto is great on swordfish, chicken, pan-seared cauliflower and on sourdough toast.

Farmers’ Markets

Details at YourTahoeGuide.com/eat

Incline Village Farmers’ Market
Thurs., 3-6 p.m., Incline Village Library

Meyers Mountain Market Farmers’ Market
Wed., 3-7:30 p.m., Tahoe Paradise Park

Romano’s Certified Farmers’ Market
Fri., 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Sierra Valley Farms, Beckworth

Ski Run Farmers’ Market
Fri., 3-8 p.m., Ski Run Boulevard

South Lake Tahoe Farmers’ Market
Tues., 8 a.m.-1 p.m., American Legion Hall parking lot

Tahoe City Farmers’ Market
Thurs., 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Commons Beach

Truckee Certified Farmers Market
Tues., 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Truckee River Regional Park