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From local reports
Stewed greens are widely enjoyed across the Caribbean and in the countries of West Africa. In the Caribbean, particularly in Jamaica, no green is more prized than callaloo.
Michael Joseph, who is Jamaican, owns M. J. Vegetables and farms a half acre in Lithonia. He has built a business selling his vegetables to area Jamaican restaurants and markets. He began selling directly to the public when he became one of the original vendors at the Saturday morning Snellville Farmers Market. Since 2010, customers have been seeking out his vegetables with their Caribbean roots.
Joseph grows other vegetables, too: collard greens, mustard greens and spinach, as well as okra, long beans, cucumbers, watermelon and pumpkins. But his loyal customers come early to buy his callaloo. They come so early that he frequently sells out in the first 30 minutes of the market.
For those customers unfamiliar with callaloo, Joseph tells them it’s like spinach, high in nutritional value and easy to cook. “I say you can cook it with celery, onion, garlic, black pepper, whatever is your preference. You just need a hot fire.”
Joseph starts his callaloo planting in March or April. Seeds go into a 4-by-20-foot plot, and the leaves are generally ready to harvest in June. Early in the season, he harvests individual leaves, then later brings large stems or whole plants to market. He leaves some plants to go to seed so he can harvest that seed and plant again next year.
Depending on where you are in the Caribbean, you may be served callaloo cooked as Joseph suggests, or you may find it prepared with okra, coconut milk and seafood such as crab or conch. The dark green stew is a side dish, delicious on its own or served over rice.
Callaloo from the amaranth family has slightly crinkled leaves on a thick stem. Discard the stems before cooking and wash the leaves thoroughly. The leaves will keep up to 3 days, although they may wilt in storage.
Mango’s Caribbean Stewed Callaloo
1 bunch callaloo (about 3/4 pound)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced tomato
1 cup diced red pepper
1 cup diced green pepper
1 cup diced green onion
1/2 cup grated carrot
4 cups firmly packed chopped callaloo greens, stems removed
Salt and pepper
Use kitchen scissors to cut callaloo leaves off the thick stems. Put leaves in colander and rinse. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, tomato, red pepper, green pepper, green onion and carrot. Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. While vegetables are cooking, chop the callaloo into small pieces. Add callaloo to vegetables and stir until greens are wilted. Taste for seasoning. Simmer 15 minutes or until greens are tender. Makes: 4 cups
Per 1/2-cup serving: 54 calories (percent of calories from fat, 31), 1 gram protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 2 grams fat (trace saturated fat), no cholesterol, 9 milligrams sodium.