How have your dinner hours been these days?
I'm not going to lie — I love cooking through this pandemic, though, it is sometimes challenging to think of a good meal idea, or use my cognition to plan meals while I worry about my family and the state of the world. I love cooking anyway (I even have a food column), but right now, cooking is giving me valuable space to just focus on a single task and provide sustenance in a time of uncertainty and scarcity.
A few weeks ago, I found out (through this newspaper!) that Roots Rising is running an online farmers market. I later found out that my own local North Adams Farmers Market is doing the same, and both are delivering. Supplies are limited, but there's a lot to choose from meat, eggs, early spring vegetables and even veggie seedlings.
I have been using markets as a way to put more distance between our grocery store trips, and I'm incredibly grateful for the high-quality local food that comes to my door each week, as well as for the people delivering it, the farmers producing it, and the people who are getting the word out about these markets.
In an effort to get more vegetables in our diet (I've definitely been making too much comfort food), our Sunday brunch was a farmers market tribute, mixed with some contingency supplies: A thick slice of homemade bread topped with a springy roasted vegetable spread containing broccoli, ramps and peas, topped with a runny local egg. I'll be using the leftover spread as a stand-in for pesto, as a pizza topping and in sandwiches until our growing season becomes more robust.
Thank you, farmers and local food system architects, for your amazing, and essential, work during this time!
ROASTED VEGETABLE SPREAD
2 cups frozen broccoli
1 cup ramps (or scallions, whatever)
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for roasting vegetables
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
A handful of herbs of any kind — I used chives and mint
Salt and pepper to taste, and for roasting vegetables
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place broccoli on a sheet pan and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast 15 to 20 minutes. Add ramps to sheet pan and toss with oil; roast another 5 to 10 minutes.
Add broccoli and ramps to a food processor with peas, olive oil, Parmesan, herbs, salt and pepper, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Pulse until you have a mulch-like consistency (or take it further if that is your preference). Spread on toasty bread and top with a runny egg, or some cheese, or whatever you happen to have on hand.