The Dirt

Spicy Peach Salsa

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

They're spicy, sure, but there's more to chiles than just heat. Underneath the tongue-tingling effects of capsaicin compounds, you'll discover layers of fruitiness (they are, after all, fruits), and sweet complexity along with the characteristic mild bitterness all peppers share. We love how customizable the heat levels are--just remove seeds and veins for less zing. In a classic case of "what grows together, goes together," you'll find that chile peppers of all types play very nicely with fruit. Peaches are plentiful now--ripe and juicy and fragrant--perfect for sweet and savory summer recipes. In addition to your favorite cobbler, pie, and ice cream recipes, give this easy peach salsa a try. You'll be spooning it over everything from quesadillas to grilled pork chops.

Want more? We've got cooking classes coming up all about chiles & seasonal market fruit! You can also check out Joy making this recipe over on Austin Fit Magazine's Cooking Channel.

Spicy Peach Salsa
  • 4 cups peaches, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1⁄2 red onion, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt (optional)

Remove pit from peaches, cut fruit into very small cubes and place in medium bowl. Remove seeds and membranes from jalapeño and mince. Add jalepeño, tomato and onion to peaches. Add all liquid ingredients to peaches, stir and add a pinch of salt if desired.

Strawberry Mint Granita

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Swimming holes, fireflies, school-free mornings, and frozen treats: summer is here! Too-sweet Sno Cones and store-bought ice cream might be filled with questionable ingredients, though, and aren't always the healthiest choice. When everyone screams for ice cream, reach instead for this cool, homemade icy strawberry granita, made with a few simple ingredients--no special equipment required! Bright green flecks of cool, fresh mint add an element of herbal interest and lemon brightens all the flavors. Feel free to increase the lemon juice if you'd like more tartness, and be sure to stir in the ice crystals as the granita freezes for a smooth, velvety texture. This isn't a recipe to save for a special occasion--besides freezing time, the only thing that goes faster than making it is eating it!

Come learn to make granita and other seasonal fruit-focused recipes with us in our Market to Table: Seasonal Fruit Cooking Class on June 18th! Register and get more details here.

Strawberry Mint Granita

1 cup of water

1/2 cup sugar

Juice of 4 lemons

3 cups hulled and sliced strawberries

2 tbsp roughly-chopped fresh mint

Mint for garnish

Dissolve sugar in water in pan over medium heat to make a simple syrup. Let cool.

In a blender, puree cooled simple syrup, strawberries, lemon juice and roughly-chopped mint. Puree until there are no lumps. Pour mixture into an uncovered 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Place container in freezer, and stir mixture every 45 minutes for the next 3-4 hours. Make sure to stir up the ice crystals that form along the edge of the dish.

The mixture will freeze but will be easy to scoop out and serve.

If you manage to not eat it all that first day, make sure to keep it in the freezer, covered. Eat within one week.

Make the Most of the Farmers' Market

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Shopping at the farmers' market is nothing like shopping at the grocery store--and this is great news! There are no fluorescent lights, no plastic-wrapped, food-like substances, no cleverly-crafted marketing ploys to get you to buy food that's not good for you. At SFC farmers' markets, we're all about indulging all five senses: the sound of friendly conversation, the scent of basil and other fragrant herbs, the taste of chef-prepared delights and hot coffee, the sight of brightly colored and beautiful food and flowers, and the touch of smooth, plump tomatoes and heft of summer fruits and vegetables. If you're new to the market or not a regular shopper, it can help to know some tricks to getting the most out of a weekly stop. Even seasoned shoppers can benefit from a few new tips--read on for ideas for shopping the market like a pro.

  • Ask questions. The farmers are there because they want to engage with the customer. Don't be afraid to ask for advice. If you see something that looks super interesting, or that's a real bargain, but you don't have any idea how to prepare it, just ask the farmer. Recipe for leeks? The grower probably has one. They know best how to prepare what they grow. 
  • Bring small bills to the market, like $1’s and $5’s, so that the farmers or other vendors don’t have to make change. There is also an ATM machine on site, so that you can use your bank card to get cash (but only in $20s). 
  • Wear comfortable shoes, and a hat or sunscreen in the summer. Though the SFC Markets have shaded areas, the sun can be hot. 
  • Bring a refillable bottle, and use our re-fill station at the sky blue Info Booth to get some filtered water.
  • Bring an ice chest if you think you might have a few stops after the market before you get home and keep your frozen items frozen and things like milk and eggs cold. 
  • Go early or go late. Markets tend to be less crowded right when they open or just before they close (there are exceptions to this, so try going to one or our markets at different times to figure out the best time for you). For the best selection, go to the farmers market early. The best goods go first and if you arrive even one hour after the market opens, your popular but limited item may have sold out! Later shoppers may get a more limited selection, but many farmers reduce prices in that last 30 minutes or so in order not to take the produce home. 
  • Plan for a treasure at the market and take advantage of it. You need to leave a bit of wiggle room for surprises and take advantage of things like strawberries or a new type of mushrooms and snatch them up! Trying new things or getting the first of your favorite thing is part of the fun of going to farmers’ markets. 
  • Make volume deals. Farmers will give you good prices if you buy in bulk. You'll enjoy the best flavors and the best prices when you buy lots of whatever is at its harvest peak. How to use it all up? Try new recipes with favorite vegetables or learn the lost art of preserving foods. Freezing, canning, and drying are just some of the ways you can save seasonal tastes you find at the farmers market for later in the year. 

Cook with Herbs: a Recipe Roundup

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Herbs add intense flavor, nutritional benefits, heady fragrance, and culinary interest to even the simplest recipe. They're easy to grow and abundant at the market--we love them so much that we're dedicating the entire month of May to celebrating everything they have to offer the home cook and gardener. Whether you have a pot on your windowsill, a garden bed dedicated to them, or just pick them up weekly at the market, here's an inspiring recipe roundup highlighting some of our favorite herbs. So think outside the simple basil pesto box and get cooking!




A Hearty Summer Crop: Beans

Friday, May 16, 2014

Beans are one of the longest-cultivated plants across the world, adding flavor, texture, and nutrients to traditional recipes. With thousands of varieties to choose from, it is simply a matter of finding the space to grow them during the right time of the year. Not only are beans easy to cultivate, but they actually enrich rather than deplete the soil by adding nitrogen, thus serving another important role as a cover crop. Cover crops, usually planted in the winter and summer months, give the soil a chance to rest while replenishing its nutrients.

In general, there are two main bean types: shell beans, grown for their protein-rich seeds and eaten both fresh and dried; and   snap beans, cultivated mainly for their edible pods. Shell bean and snap beans are further divided according to how they grow, with the main two being bush and pole types. Bush beans are generally self-supporting but need space. Pole beans have twining vines that require support from stakes, strings, wires, or trellises.

Beans are warm season crops and grow best in full sun and well-drained, fertile soil. Plant your first crop of beans a week or two after the date of the last expected frost. Plant most bush bean types 3 to 6 inches apart in rows 2 to 2½ feet apart. They will produce the bulk of their crop over a 2-week period. For a continuous harvest, stagger plantings at 2-week intervals starting in the spring, until about 2 months before the first killing frost is expected, which usually arrives Dec. 1-10 in Austin. Bush beans usually don't need any support unless planted in a windy area, in which case using twigs or a strong cord wrapped around stakes set at the row ends or corners of the bed will suffice.

Pole beans are more sensitive to cold than bush beans. They also take longer to mature (10 to 11 weeks), but they produce about three times the yield of bush beans. Plant pole beans seeds 2 inches deep and 10 inches apart, with ample room between the rows. Since pole beans like to climb, use a trellis or other vertical support at planting or when the first two leaves of the seedlings open. A teepee trellis is an especially fun project for children, and once covered by vines, the teepee provides a shady hideout!

Harvest beans daily to encourage production, since allowing pods to ripen fully will stop the plant from producing. Pinch off bush beans using your thumbnail and fingers, and use scissors for pole and runner beans. Cut off and discard overly mature beans. The more you pick, the more the vines will produce. To dry beans, leave the pods on the plants until they are brown and it’s barely possible to make a dent in the seed – pod may even rattle with the dry seed inside.

Several varieties that are tasty, easy to grow, and visually appealing are: Adzuki, Black, Fava, Garbanzo, Great Northern White, Kidney, Lima, Mung, Pinto, Bird’s Egg, Scarlet Runner, Snap, and Soldier beans. Any of these beans will surely be a hearty addition to recipes throughout the year, paired with seasonal vegetables to bring out different flavors.<

Pinto Bean Salad
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh basil, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups pinto or other beans, cooked and cooled (or 1 15 oz can beans, drained rinsed)*

To make dressing, in a medium bowl, mix together the oil, lemon juice/vinegar, garlic, basil parsley, black pepper and salt.
Let dressing sit while chopping the tomatoes, jalapeno and onion. Add the vegetables to the dressing and mix to combine.
Add the beans and toss lightly.
For best flavor, allow salad to sit for a few hours or overnight in a refrigerator before serving.

Serves 4

*Dry beans are much cheaper than canned beans. To cook dry beans: rinse beans, then in a large bowl, cover with four times as much boiling water as beans. Let soak overnight. Discard water. Cover beans by two inches of fresh water in a stock pot and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for one hour or until beans can be mashed against roof of mouth easily with your tongue. Let beans cool, then put in plastic bags in the freezer in two cup portions. Use frozen beans within six months.

New Summer Market Bounty

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

There are a few magical weeks in central Texas between spring and summer when crops from both seasons are abundant. Those of you who shop the market all year know these weeks, plan vacations and dinner parties around them, devise recipes that include root vegetables, greens, basil, and summer squash all in the same dish, and revel in the brief moment in time when it's possible to have an all-local BLT. For the next few weeks (who knows how long?) the market will feel like an Edenic paradise, and we'll go home with market bags and baskets bursting at the seams with rosy beets, leafy greens, just-dug new potatoes, crisp peppers, tender green beans and summer squash, juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers and radishes, spring onions, lettuces, berries, and peaches. Need inspiration for your seasonal bounty? Check out our ingredient-focused Pinterest boards just for market shoppers!

Spring Dinners at ASTI & FINO Support Sustainable Food Center

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Our generous friends at ASTI Trattoria and FINO Restaurant Patio & Bar are offering two incredible, locally-sourced spring menus for the month of May--go ahead and indulge yourself, all proceeds benefit SFC! 

ASTI Farmers' Spring Supper

Available Monday-Thursday for the month of May


Chilled Leek & Potato Soup
mint oil / chive flowers. $8


Grilled Carrots
yogurt / spring onion salsa verde. $12


Strube Ranch Flat Iron Braciole
tomato / polenta. $28


Italian Cookie Plate. $6

A la Carte or Dinner for Two………$85.

*Menu subject to change

*Many thanks to Strube Ranch for the donation!

FINO Spring Tasting Menu

Available Monday-Thursday for the month of May


Chilled Texas Sweet Corn Bisque
green garlic / spring onion / goat's milk feta / basil


Market Fish
kale / asparagus / peas / easter egg radish / caper vinaigrette / aioli / marcona


Vanilla-Yogurt Panna Cotta
macerated strawberries / pistachio shortbread crumble / good flow honey / sorrel

$35 prix fixe

*Menu subject to change

Blistered Shishitos with Crispy Salami and Oregano Oil

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Summer's here! Our favorite thing about drifting from spring into warmer weather is the way afternoon get-togethers linger longer, with laughter and conversation stretching as long as the twilight, and small plates make a meal with minimal effort or planning. Such evenings are all about having good ingredients on hand and a few tricks up your sleeve. This recipe's sublime as a whole dish, but we guarantee you'll be spooning this garlicky oregano oil onto everything from cucumber tomato salad to cheese toast! 

Want more healthy and delectable summer small plates ideas? Join us for a Blackberry Shrub Demo and Recipe Swap Happy Hour with Hip Girl Kate Payne on May 20th. This event is free, but please RSVP here!

Blistered Shishitos with Crispy Salami and Oregano Oil

1 pint basket shishito peppers

6-8 slices salmi, cut in slivers (optional)

sea salt

1 T. oregano oil (recipe follows)

Heat a heavy skillet over high heat until smoking hot. Toss the whole peppers in (do not add oil) and shake the pan until they are blistered on all sides. Remove to a serving plate and add salami slivers to skillet. Toss and fry very briefly until they are crisp. Add to shishitos on plate. Season with sea salt and drizzle with oregano oil.

Oregano Oil

1 bunch oregano, leaves only

1 clove garlic

1/2 c. olive oil

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Keep refrigerated in a tightly lidded jar for up to a week.

Let Your Garden Go to Seed

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Plants have one primary goal: to reproduce themselves. As much as we'd like to think their whole M.O. is to find themselves on our dinner plate, if we don't interrupt them, they'll flower and then make seeds. Sometimes these seeds are inside the fruit and vegetables we eat (think tomatoes, squash, melons, cucumbers), but sometimes the seeds grow on the plant itself if we let it (herbs, onions, lettuce, greens). We don't often see the seeds that grow on plants unless we let the plant continue in its life cycle beyond the harvest season and "go to seed." If we're not too impatient or pressed for space in the garden, there are lots of reasons to let this happen. Read on for our top three reasons to get a little seedy in the garden patch:

1. Flowers on herbs and veggies attract pollinators and beneficial insects such a bees, butterflies, birds, and green lacewing, keeping the garden ecosystem healthy and balanced.

2. Seeds are delicious! Harvest seeds of coriander, mustard, and dill for pickling and spicing food. Wait until the seedpods are completely mature and dried before harvesting.

3. Many plants reseed themselves--we like to plant basil (summer) and cilantro (winter) in the same bed-they share space and grow again and again in alternating seasons from the previous season's seeds.

Shower Mom with Local Food Love from SFC Farmers' Markets

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Mothers may look like mortals, but we all know they're superheros in disguise. Who else could be a parent, life coach, personal chef, chauffeur, hair stylist, disciplinarian, mediator, protector, nurse, teacher, personal shopper, seamstress, therapist, tutor, financial adviser and best friend all at the same time?  

What better way to say thank you to mom for all she's done and for a lifetime of delicious, healthy meals than to treat her to the best seasonal special treats from Austin farms and kitchens? We've done the hard work for you--stop by SFC Farmers' Market Downtown or Sunset Valley this Saturday for an abundance of gifts for your favorite lady! Here are our top five picks for mom:

  • Big, showy, fragrant bunches of larkspur, delphinium, dianthus, and snap dragons from Animal Farm (Downtown).
  • Sweetly decadent strawberry vanilla bean preserves (pair with Easy Tiger croissants and wrap with a pretty bow) of cowgirl salt (pair with limes and a bottle of great tequila) from Confituras (Downtown and Sunset Valley) and carrot cake preserves (pair with cream cheese kolaches) from Harvest Time Farm (Downtown).
  • A big jar of fragrant wildflower honey and besswax lip balm from Austin Honey Co. or Round Rock Honey (Downtown and Sunset Valley).
  • Pure chocolate bliss: white, milk, and dark chocolate covered cocoa beans from Cocoa Puro--the snazzy red foil bags let you skip gift wrapping! (Downtown).
  • Handmade scrubby, bubbly loofah soap from SoAP (Downtown and Sunset Valley) or luxuriosly creamy farmstead goats milk soap from Springfield Farm (Downtown).