in season -- corn shoots

Periodically throughout the year, Jeff Collins, who sells his produce at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market as Farmer Jeff, has corn shoots for sale. “It’s something I rotate with other shoots like snow peas,” he said, noting that the color is one of the things that really makes the corn shoots stand out in his booth.

Corn shoots are about 3 inches long with a white base leading up to a small very pale yellow leaf. They’re the sprouts of popcorn kernels.

To grow his sprouts, Collins combines compost and peat moss with a little lime and puts the mixture in seeding trays. A few cups of popcorn scattered over the surface, a little soil scattered over the seed, some water – and in 14 to 20 days, he’s got shoots ready for market.

Collins provides samples for those unfamiliar with this vegetable and his customers take home small bags filled with a large handful of sprouts.

The sprouts are really sweet, so sweet that Collins says he can’t eat more than one sprout at a time, but used sparingly in salads or sautéed and added to pasta, they provide a sweet crunchiness with the surprise of a corn finish. Collins says using them in pad thai is one of the best ways to showcase their special characteristics.

Like other shoots, corn shoots are perishable. Kept refrigerated, they should be good for 3 or 4 days.

At local farmers markets

Cooking demos:

6 p.m. Thursday, June 7. Chef Seth Freedman of Ruby Root Connections. East Atlanta Village Farmer's Market, Atlanta. www.farmeav.com

9:30 a.m. Saturday, June 9. Chef Carvel Grant Gould of Canoe, working with bread. Morningside Farmers Market, Atlanta. www.morningsidemarket.com

10 a.m. Saturday, June 9. Lara Creasy of JCT Kitchen. Peachtree Road Farmers Market, Atlanta. www.peachtreeroadfarmersmarket.com

11 a.m. Saturday, June 9. Chef Carvel Kathleen Miliotis of Davio's. Green Market at Piedmont Park, Atlanta. www.piedmontpark.org

11:30 a.m. Sunday, June 10. Chef Carvel Hugh Acheson of The National/Five and Ten. Grant Park Farmers Market, Atlanta. www.grantparkmarket.org

For sale

Vegetables and fruit: arugula, Asian greens, asparagus, beets, blackberries, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, collards, cucumbers, dandelion, fava beans, garlic, green beans, green onions, herbs, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, okra, onions, pea tendrils, peaches, peanuts, potatoes, radicchio, radishes, snow peas, sorrel, spinach, strawberries, sugar snap peas, summer squash, tomatoes, turnips, zucchini

From local reports

Corn Shoots Summer Salad

Hands on: 20 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

This colorful salad is even more attractive if you make it with tomatoes of several colors.

1/2 pound peeled raw shrimp

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 cup plain low-fat or non-fat yogurt

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 green onions, sliced, divided

4 ripe tomatoes, cored and diced

1 bundle corn shoots (about 2 ounces)

1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and cubed

2 ounces low-fat feta cheese. cut into 1/4-inch cubes

Preheat grill or grill pan to very hot.

In a small bowl, toss shrimp with olive oil and set aside.

In another small bowl, make dressing by combining yogurt, lemon juice and salt. Stir in half the sliced green onions. Refrigerate until needed.

When grill is hot, grill shrimp until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Do not overcook.

On serving platter, arrange tomatoes, corn shoots, avocado, feta and remaining green onions. Top with grilled shrimp and serve with reserved dressing.

Per serving: 258 calories (percent of calories from fat, 52), 17 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 15 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 101 milligrams cholesterol, 316 milligrams sodium.

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