This seasonal staple begins to shine as onions become harder to find. Fresh leeks are delicious when incorporated into a homemade quiche, a beef stew, mashed or scalloped potatoes, and a homemade soup.
I often use fresh leeks when making split pea or lentil-style soups, but this time I worked them into a Turkey Leek Soup, the Fix of the Week on A4. Because leeks are grown with a portion underground, it’s important to rinse them before use.
I find the best way to remove any sediment is to cut the usable portion into rounds and float them in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes, gently stirring. Sautéing leeks in butter or oil yields a much sweeter finish. Fresh leeks are a good source of vitamins B6 and K, as well as iron, manganese and dietary fiber.
They are currently available from several local farmers at all weekly Santa Barbara certified farmers’ markets. Certified organic is available. The price averages $2 per bunch or $3 per pound.
Red samurai carrots
This variety or “red” carrot is one of my new favorites, delivering a super crunchy texture and sweet rich flavor.
Taking on a dark pink to light red hue, they make for a stunning presentation on the table, retaining most of their unique color when cooked.
This Japanese-bred variety tends to be even sweeter than its orange counterpart. While they deliver slightly less beta-carotene than the orange varieties, they do yield a boost of lycopene, the beneficial antioxidant often found in red pigmented foods such as tomatoes.
Enjoy these carrots both raw and cooked as you would standard carrots. These are a fun farmers’ market find. They’re currently available from Chavez Family Farm at the weekly Saturday Santa Barbara, Sunday Camino Real, Tuesday Santa Barbara, and Wednesday Solvang farmers’’ markets. The price is $2.50 per bunch.
Organic sun-dried tomatoes
Grab these gems while you can, as the quantity is quite limited. Truly sundried certified organic tomatoes from Jacob Grants Roots Farm of Los Olivos, they deliver a rich flavor to your dishes.
You can rehydrate these tomatoes in olive oil or warm liquid for a softer texture, and you can toss them into your scrambled eggs, pasta salads or a host of baked goods.
This week I prepared a garlicky parmesan-style cream sauce and simmered my sundried tomatoes for a few minutes before tossing with pasta, sautéed mushrooms, lemon zest and chopped parsley.
Add softened sundried tomatoes to a sandwich, a tomato sauce or on a crostini creation. They’re currently available at the weekly Saturday Santa Barbara, Tuesday Santa Barbara and Wednesday Solvang farmers’ markets. The price is $8 per 4-ounce bag.
Sam Edelman is general manager of the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association and host of “Farm to Table,” which airs live 9 a.m. Thursdays on KZSB AM 1290, the News-Press radio station. Sam Edelman photos.