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Market Watch: Uncommon Offerings

Broccoli grown at Blue Moon Farm in Urbana.

With the fear of sounding redundant, I must say that we had a great market again last Saturday. Beautiful weather, great produce and a ton of patrons — the vendors couldn’t have asked for a better day.

This week, visitors to the market can expect to find many of the same vegetables we have seen over the past few weeks as well as raspberries, gooseberries, cherries, blueberries, broccoli, green beans, squash and onions. Make sure to visit all five aisles to really cover what the market has to offer. New vendors are popping up everywhere, and you never know what new treasure is to be found.

Every week the list of available produce gets a little bit longer, and it’s getting to the point that unfortunately I have to choose amongst vegetables. Why not celebrate this weekend’s summer solstice by exploring one of the market’s more uncommon vegetables?

Kohlrabi — A sputnik-shaped green vegetable with a flavor like broccoli and stems enhanced by radishes. Kohlrabi has a variety of uses. Those in the know enjoy kohlrabi raw tossed into salads and slaws, boiled and mashed, and layered in casseroles and gratins. Sweet and crisp, kohlrabi has its die-hard fans and is a favorite across continents and generations.

Garlic Scapes — Garlic scapes are the flower bulb of the garlic bulb. Farmers cut them off the garlic in the spring to encourage the bulbs to grow bigger. Garlic scapes are tender and delicious with a good garlic flavor and aromatic essence. Garlic scapes can be stir-fried, sautéed or grilled and even eaten raw. Tossed into soups, used as a garnish or made into pesto, garlic scapes are a culinary delicacy that appear at the market each spring and last for only a few weeks.

Broccoli Rabe — Also known as rapini, broccoli rabe is a bitter broccoli with leafy greens and a unique taste. Broccoli rabe has six to nine-inch stalks and scattered clusters of tiny broccoli-like buds. Broccoli rabe can be cooked in a variety of ways including frying, steaming and braising, but I like to boil it briefly in water and then sauté it with loads of sliced garlic, red chili flakes and olive oil.

Market on the Square runs every Saturday from 7a.m.-noon, rain or shine, now through Nov. 8. It is located in the parking lot of Urbana Square Mall on the corners of Vine and Illinois streets.

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