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Generally Recognized As True: The Georgetown farmer's market opens, and I am already up to no good: roughly Middle-Eastern spicy tuna pitas

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Georgetown farmer's market opens, and I am already up to no good: roughly Middle-Eastern spicy tuna pitas

Today was the first day of the Georgetown farmer's market. Unlike some of the other seasonal markets in the region, the Georgetown market opens roughly at the beginning of crop availability. Oakville's market, in comparison, opens in early May and sells things like bedding plants and shrubs until the growing season gets well underway and Ontario-grown food is actually available.

Since I moved to Georgetown, I've gone to the market most weekends when it opens in the summer from late June until mid-October. This year is a bit different because I signed up for a Community-Supported Agriculture program offered by Whole Circle Farm in Acton. The deal is that you give them some money up-front in order to give the farm some funding, and you get a share of some of the crops each week throughout the growing season. They had an option to pick up the share from the Georgetown market, which is very convenient. The other option would be to go to Acton every week to pick up your share, but that's a 10-minute drive and I walk to the market. The cost was a bit higher to pick up from the market, but it's easily worth the convenience.

My first impression of the CSA share was that it was quite sparse. 1/4 lb. of spinach, 1/4 lb. of salad greens, a bunch of radish, and "help yourself" to some garlic scapes. I didn't have any idea what to do with garlic scapes, but the nice lady at the market gave me some ideas and I ended up using some of them in what will follow. The food in the share is very natural and fresh-tasting food, though. It's better than most farmer's market stuff, and pretty much as good as you'd get if you grew it yourself in your own garden. I am growing my own salad greens in the garden at the moment, and they are being harvested every day. Luckily, the ones I am growing myself are not mostly lettuce leaves, while the CSA greens were mostly different varieties of lettuce leaves. So, I can mix the two for salads and they will complement each other nicely. The spinach is better than any spinach I've ever tasted, and the radish are...radish. Radish are a bit hot, so I find it's difficult to decipher subtleties. I'm also growing radish in the garden, but I started late and it's not ready yet.

Elsewhere at the market, I picked up some strawberries, green onions, and new potatoes. You immediately notice a difference between the local strawberries and the imported ones from California. The taste is far more complex, the fruit is softer, and there's very little bitterness (but perhaps not enough sweetness).

This evening, I did a quick mental exercise to see how I could fit the garlic scapes into dinner. Garlic makes me think of onion, and the two together make me think of spicy things. I had some pitas, which cue Middle Eastern thoughts. Some mayonnaise, cumin, smoked paprika, tomatoes, parsley, and cilantro later, I had dinner.

Here's what I used:

Cooking ingredients

  • 1 tsp. cumin: not much to say about cumin
  • 1 tsp. smoked hot paprika: smoked paprika is expensive, but the taste is completely worth it and this wouldn't taste the same without it. Also, make sure it's hot smoked paprika because there are also sweet versions. If you have to use sweet, you could probably use it and compensate for the lack of heat by adding about 1/2 tsp. of dried crushed red chilies at the same time as the paprika
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • two 3/4" slices of a medium-sized onion
  • 2 garlic scapes: you could probably use half a garlic clove to substitute. I was just using them because I had them.
  • 1 can of tuna

Cold ingredients

  • 1 whole wheat pita: about 8" diameter, cut in half and able to be used as a pocket
  • Hellmann's mayonnaise: full fat -- don't mess around!
  • 1 small-medium tomato: unfortunately, it was a supermarket one. I had too many supermarket ones at home and couldn't justify buying any from the market.
  • 1 small handful of parsley leaves (and a few stems): from the back garden
  • 1 small handful of cilantro leaves: supermarket ones; the garden ones are not yet mature enough to go picking handfuls off them

First, pre-heat the frying pan on medium heat. In the meantime, roughly chop the onion and the garlic scapes. When the frying pan is heated, add the olive oil and, after about 10 seconds, put the chopped onion and scapes into the frying pan. Move them around to get some oil on them and make sure they're spread out for proper cooking.

The onion and scapes should cook for about 3-4 minutes. While this is doing, cut your pita in half, open up the pockets, and spread a healthy amount of mayonnaise on the insides of the pita.

After the onion and scapes have been frying for 3-4 minutes, add the cumin and paprika and stir everything around to get it all coated. Let it cook for 1-2 minutes, and then add the drained can of tuna (if it's chunks of tuna, break them up into flakes with a fork) to the frying pan and get everything blended together. Let cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Remove the frying pan from the heat and carefully scoop its contents into the pitas. Finely chop the cilantro and parsley, blend them together, and layer them on top of the tuna (push the tuna down into the pita if you have to). Then, dice the tomato and layer this on top of the herbs.

That's all. I thought it was really good! The smoked paprika, in particular, made everything come to life.

And now I smell quite interesting.

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