Smile Politely

Market Watch: Green Eggs and Ham

Market at the Square is starting to really get going this Saturday with a larger variety of fresh spring produce due to the warmer conditions. The early bird still gets the worm though; don’t sleep too late, or you might miss out on some of the newer items.

We are starting to see a variety of crucifers including cabbages, bok choy, and maybe, we can hope for some kale, broccoli, and cauliflower in the next few weeks. Luckily, we can expect to have asparagus for about two more weeks. Make sure to get your fill — paired with some peppery arugula — asparagus makes an amazing salad. Radishes and rhubarb are still going strong as are the early harvest strawberries.

Now is definitely the time to bake a strawberry rhubarb pie for your honey or buy one for that matter.

As someone who packs their lunch every day, I was excited to try some of Triple S Farms’ deli ham this week. Stan from Triple S has been making a variety of prepared meat items lately, expanding his repertoire to include German-style bratwurst, smoked chicken, and even bologna. We couldn’t ask for a better variety of charcuterie at our market. From the Moore Family Farm’s juicy Italian sausage to Country Cottage’s lamb brats, you can’t go wrong at this summer’s barbecue.

Country Cottage Farm serves up all-natural lamb, and eggs to boot. Phil and Deborah offer several varieties of free-range eggs some of which happen to be a light shade of green. These blue-green eggs come from Arauncana chickens, a breed that originates in South America. Contrary to popular assumption, Arauncana eggs are not much different from other eggs, but they do seem to get more attention.

Spring is a perfect time for quiche. It’s not too hot to turn on the oven, and it is the perfect foil to highlight asparagus, spinach, arugula and/or fresh herbs. Toss in a little bacon or ham and you have an easy dinner or brunch item. Feel free to improvise:

Market at the Square Arugula and Bacon Quiche

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons (about) ice water

4 Bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped shallots
8 ounces Arugula, or Spinach stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped (about 5 1/2 cups)
1 cup whipping cream
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 ounces Prairie Fruit’s Farm local goat cheese

For crust: Blend flour and salt in processor. Add butter and shortening. Using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix in enough ice water to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill until dough is firm enough to roll out, about 30 minutes. Roll out dough on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Trim dough overhang to 1 inch. Fold overhang in and press, forming double-thick high-standing sides. Pierce crust all over with fork. Freeze crust 30 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400¡F. Bake crust until golden brown. Reduce temperature to 375¡F.

For filling: Cook bacon in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and drain. Add shallots to same skillet and sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Add arugula or spinach and sauté until just wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Sprinkle arugula mixture, then bacon over crust. Whisk cream, eggs, salt and pepper in large bowl to blend. Stir in cheese. Pour mixture into crust.

Bake quiche until filling is slightly puffed and golden, about 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Cut into wedges.

You never know what new and exciting products you’ll find at the market this Saturday, but I do know from a reliable source (myself) that Prairie Fruits Farm made a batch of their highly requested goat’s milk ricotta this week. (Smile Politely contributor Alisa DeMarco works for Prairie Fruits Farm.) The farm will only be making it once a month. The weather is predicted to be sunny and warm and perfect for strolling along with a fruit smoothie and a bag full of Illinois’ finest produce picks.

Catch Market at the Square tomorrow at Lincoln Square Village from 7 a.m.-12 p.m.

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