Food, Life and Love

The Joys of the Farmer’s Market

Farmer’s Markets are my Disneyland. I love meandering through each tent seeing the beautiful colors and textures of all the vegetables. You can learn about goat cheese and tea mixes, and the variety of heirloom vegetables this world has to offer. Each vendor has a new treasure to share with you. The smells are intoxicating…fresh bread, roasted chiles, floral arrangements. Plus everyone is smiling, kids are traipsing around with their parents, dogs are wagging their tails waiting to be pet, and vendors are just wanting to tell you their story.

This past weekend I found myself in the most picture perfect farmer’s market. I walked away with a plethora of goodies, yellow cucumbers, pink fingerling potatoes, Armenian cucumbers, a box of shallots, HUGE green onions, and braising greens. But it was the bag of fresh black-eyed peas that made my heart skip a beat. I immediately envisioned the creamy bean for dinner and was planning on stopping at the store later for ham hocks when what to my wondering eyes should appear….but a heritage pig farmer! Oh the joy! I probably had the same expression as my three-year old niece meeting Mickey Mouse. It made my day. (My week actually, this dish made the perfect amount of leftovers.) The ham hocks were huge, smoky, and meaty the ideal pair for those delicate fresh black-eyed peas. Plus, I had braising greens, green onions, and shallots…it took everything I had not to skip home.


Black-Eyed Peas and Ham Hock over Quinoa:

4 c chicken stock

1 c black eyed peas

1 large ham hock

1 4-inch piece of kombu

1 t fennel pollen

1/2 t cumin

1 large carrot (peeled and sliced)

1 large celery stalk (sliced)

1 large shallot (minced)

1 hatch chili (minced)

1 c braising greens

1 large green onion (minced)

2 T chopped basil

3/4 c quinoa

salt and pepper

In a large pot, place the chicken stock, beans, ham hock, kombu, fennel pollen, and cumin. Bring to a simmer and cook until beans are tender. The amount of time needed really depends on if the beans are fresh or dried. Fresh cooks quickly (less than an hour), dried you will have to soak overnight and look at the bag for times. Check as needed and once tender, reduce heat.

In a dry skillet, toast the quinoa until it starts to crackle about 2-3 minutes. Sir occasionally to prevent burning. Place a mesh colander in a large bowl. Place the toasted quinoa in the colander and run water over the quinoa. Once it is cool enough to handle, take the quinoa and rub it between your palms (like you are trying to warm up your hands). Repeat in batches until all quinoa has been rubbed, you are trying to remove the outer sheath. Place in a pot and remove 1 1/2-2 cups of the liquid from the bean mixture and pour into the quinoa. Simmer for about 20 minutes until quinoa is fluffy and liquid is absorbed. In needed, add more of the liquid from your beans. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

Meanwhile, saute the shallot, carrot, celery and hatch chile in skillet until shallot is translucent. Once you have removed the excess liquid to cook the quinoa, add the shallot mixture to your beans. The beans should be slightly soupy but not have a lot of liquid. Remove the kombu from the bean mixture. Add your braising greens, basil, and green onions.  Remove your ham hock and cut any excess meat off of the ham hock. Chop the meat into bite sized pieces. Add the meat back into the bean mixture. Cook until the greens are tender (5-10 minutes), season with salt and pepper.

Serve the beans on top of the quinoa and enjoy!

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