10.19.2010

Exhaling at the farmer's market on a Saturday afternoon

I happen to adore poblano peppers. There, I've said it. Judging by my entries here, one might come to the conclusion that I in fact love everything, but that would be a mistake. I do like most things; I'd like to think that's part of my charm (contrary to popular opinion, I can turn on the charm like a champ when necessary.) However, I've never quite come around to cauliflower (sorry), though I have a couple recipes earmarked that might change my mind -- one with cinnamon and cocoa, and another a gratin from a restaurant, if you must know -- and I'm not big on persimmon or papaya (no apologies here.) Horror of horrors, I'm not fond of ripe tomatoes, and I'm convinced I'm allergic to pineapple.

And, to be honest, as much as I love food, I hate that grocery shopping is often an all-day affair around here. Part of it is because I rely on public transportation, or more accurately, my legs. I walk everywhere. Secondly, I'm finicky.

Quite frankly, the number of choices available and the lack of information we're provided with in North America about where our food comes from stresses me out. As the newspapers roll out article after article about local eating and statistics of people wanting to know where their food comes from, or as I pick up a couple t-shirts at a store and find many labels now read 'Made in Canada' instead of Taiwan or China, I know I'm not alone in my anxiety.

 I stand in front of the eggs for a solid five minutes debating which of the cartons is the lesser evil, though I try to make it out to the butcher on Queen West that sells organic eggs or to one of the authentic farmer's markets that actually sell real organic ones. I am particular about the little meat I do buy, and subsequently about my meat-based stocks. I prefer to support local farmers by purchasing my produce directly from them. This adds up to a lot of headaches, as you may imagine, and it's not for everyone. It's never my intention to corner anyone, but this is my reality, and as our choices become increasingly limited by agribusiness and factory farming, it may at some point become yours as well. But on this weekend, lo and behold, I came across several wooden boxes of poblano peppers, littered over a long table with a homemade sign blowing in the wind. I breathed. You can only live your politics so much before they impede on the living part.

...Back to our scheduled programming. 

The first time I ate a poblano pepper was at a Mexican restaurant in Tallahassee. I'm not saying the restaurant is particularly good. It's not. They do make decent top shelf margaritas, though, and on this particular night, I hopped on over there and shared a plate of Chiles Rellenos over a margarita the size of my head. Suffice to say, those Chiles were very fine indeed.

All humour aside, poblano peppers are lovely. On one trip to Plant City, I picked several up at the farmer's market and returned to stuff them with pinto beans mashed with salsa. They were terrific just like that. A good poblano doesn't require much else.

I spent this past Sunday performing a veritable cook-a-thon, stocking up for the week. Out came a batch of granola; Molly Wizenberg's celery root, apple and fennel salad dressed with a halzenut vinaigrette; Melissa Clark's red lentil soup with lemon (excellent) from her new cookbook; and a potato and poblano pepper frittata with goat cheese. We know how I feel about goat cheese. Now you know how I feel about poblanos. Everyone loves potatoes in some form.

I suspect you know where I'm going with this.



Roasted Poblano Pepper and Potato Frittata with Goat Cheese
Serves 4

2 roasted poblano peppers, skins removed, roughly chopped*
3 medium-sized potatoes, washed well and sliced thinly
2 shallots, diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 tbsp vegetable oil, such as grapeseed
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper
8 eggs
Milk, about 1/2 cup

Line potato slices on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F until tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside, but keep the oven on and switch to broil.

In a large bowl, crack the eggs, a good glug of milk -- about 1/2 cup -- and whisk to combine. Add goat cheese and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

In a cast iron pan or other oven-safe skillet, heat oil over medium heat and add shallots. Once softened, add garlic. Once fragrant, add potatoes, peppers and egg mixture. Cook for 5-7 minutes until eggs have set, and place pan in the oven. Keep an eye on the dish and broil until the top has browned slightly. Serve immediately, or eat cold, garnished with salsa or hot sauce if desired. This dish also reheats reasonably well (I served mine with some spaghetti squash tossed in some leftover lemon artichoke pesto.)

*To learn how to roast peppers, check out this tutorial here.

4 comments:

ajv said...

Holy smokes, this looks awesome. Is that the aforementioned spaghetti squash flanking your frittata? I'm excited about trying this recipe!

Samantha Angela said...

Persimmons, ripe field tomatoes, pineapple . . . all of the above are my favourite things!

Andrea Paterson said...

Agreed on the stress caused by grocery shopping! With a grocery bill almost twice what other people spend due to egg, dairy, and gluten allergies it's hard to start limiting myself even further by worrying about sourcing, ethics, and sustainability. But I do try. Vancouver has some great local movements going on, particularly the Vancouver Farmer's Market Association and the Farm Folk/City Folk organization that aims to get consumers and farmers to do business directly. And everything would be made easier by having more time! If I could devote my day to food I could can local produce, dehydrate food, and grow a garden in order to sustain myself, but sadly that isn't going to happen while I'm working a day job. *sigh*. Your blog inspires me to keep trying though. Even buying one item a week that matches up with your political food views can add up to a difference. Next summer I'm determined to do some balcony gardening and I think I could swing small applesauce canning projects. I've never tried a poblano pepper, but I'm going to put it on the list!

S. said...

@Avni -- Yep, that's the spaghetti squash! It's one of my favourite winter vegetables.

@Samantha -- they're all yours. Though I rely on tomatoes for cooking...and I do like pineapple, I just can't seem to eat it without experiencing breathing problems...

@Andrea -- that all sounds lovely. I wish I had a balcony and/or garden space. You're so right; so much of it is about time (and energy.) And I know what you mean about limiting yourself further; I already have people asking me what I eat (though most real food is naturally gluten-free.)

It doesn't help that I'm hopelessly indecisive.

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