Community Restaurants

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Zucchini is a delicious vegetable that can be found at farmer’s markets across British Columbia right now. It can also be bought at some local farms around the lower mainland. Zucchini works as a side dish as well as in desserts. There are some restaurants in Vancouver that seasonally serve up special zucchini flower dishes. These blossoms are tough to find but worthwhile to seek out.

Zucchini is ready to be harvested in August, September, and October. Usually, for culinary purposes, a zucchini is harvested when it is less than twenty centimeters in length. Given their ability to grow in temperate climates, zucchini can become overwhelmingly large in home gardens around British Columbia. An over-sized zucchini can often become fibrous and more bitter than a smaller zucchini.

You can buy zucchini at nearly any farmer’s market in British Columbia through September. If you are in the lower mainland, you can also buy fresh zucchini from a variety of local independent farmers. Bloomers in Maple Ridge, Cropthorne Farm in Delta, Croft Produce in Mission, Dave’s Orchard in Langley, and Forstbauer Family Natural Food Farm in Chilliwack are all selling fresh zucchini.

When cooking zucchini on its own, little more is required than oil, butter, and some salt and pepper. Zucchini is also a main component in ratatouille – a stewed vegetable dish of French origin. With its sweet flavour, zucchini also works well in desserts. Chocolate zucchini cake is a big hit with kids, and they are unlikely to even notice the vegetable within the dessert.

Zucchini is also very healthy for you. They are very low in calories, containing only seventeen calories per one hundred grams. They also contain folate, potassium, and provitamin A. Folate helps the body create DNA and red blood cells. Potassium can help reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. Provitamin A helps you maintain good vision and a strong immune system.

If you are at the market and see a zucchini with a flower still attached, buy that zucchini. The flower is the sign of a truly fresh and immature zucchini that is distinguished by its sweet flavour. The flower itself can be eaten and is considered a delicacy. The flowers are seasonal and only appear on a young zucchini, and as such they will not be commonly found on many restaurant menus. However, there are restaurants around Vancouver that have had stuffed zucchini flowers as a special and you may be lucky enough to try one if you go on the right night. Restaurants like Cioppino’s on Hamilton Street, Ask for Luigi on Alexander Street, and Cibo Trattoria on Seymour Street all have been known to serve stuffed zucchini flower appetizers when in season.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zucchini

https://cioppinos.wordpress.com

http://www.askforluigi.com

http://www.cibotrattoria.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratatouille

http://www.bcfarmfresh.com/farm-products/zucchini/

 

 

Community Gardening

Farmer's Market Garlic

 

Humans have been using garlic for over seven thousand years. The Chinese, Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, and Vikings all used garlic. It is as fundamental to the human experience as romance, religion, or commerce. Take a trip to your local farmer’s market and find tons of fresh garlic all through the summer. Garlic stores well if kept in a warm and dry environment, and the garlic you buy at the market today can be used well into the winter, allowing you to avoid bland garlic from the store for months.

If you wish to grow your own garlic you can nearly get started. A good experiment is to take a bulb of garlic and plant it in autumn, about five weeks before there is a chance of freezing. Be sure to plant it deep enough so that it will not freeze, or else it will rot with its thaw. Garlic planted in the autumn should be ready to harvest by the late spring and early summer.

Garlic is the base for so much cooking. It is like onion, olive oil, or salt and pepper. It can go into just about anything as a base and add lots of flavour. It also mixes easily with a few simple ingredients to make delicious sauces. Basil, garlic, and Parmesan make pesto. Yogurt, garlic, and salt create tzatziki. Garlic, egg yolks, and olive oil form aioli.

Although most scientific studies on the health benefits of garlic have come back as inconclusive, there are many theories, myths and stories revolving around the health benefits of garlic. Take a listen to the people in Les Blanks 1980 documentary Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers. They claim it helps with dysentery, heart problems, mosquito bites, sunburns, and longevity. Garlic was used in World War I and II as a way to prevent gangrene.

Garlic is a world-renowned food. It has many links to traditions and myths all around the world. Perhaps the most common to us is its ability to repel vampires. But the Hindu’s and Buddhists note how garlic fuels sexual desire. For Nowruz, the Persian calendar New Year, it is part of the Seven-Seen table, which is a traditional New Year’s display that also includes wheat, pudding, olive, apple, sumac fruit, and vinegar. Muslims are told to avoid eating garlic before going to the mosque as to not distract the other worshippers due to its pungent smell.

Garlic can be found in virtually every culinary culture in the world. To eat garlic is to be one with all of humanity as garlic’s roots indeed run that deep. On your next farmer’s market trip be sure to pick up some garlic. The fresh garlic from farmers offers a much fuller flavour than store-bought garlic and it can be kept for months if stored correctly. Use it in nearly any dish to add more flavour. And be sure to catch the Metro Vancouver garlic festival, which happens every year in late August (this years festival was just last Sunday, August 21).

 

Websites consulted for this article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garlic

http://metrovangarlicfest.ca

Link to Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers: https://vimeo.com/111386326

Community Recipes

Greek Salad

 

August is when you start to see many large vegetables at your local farmer’s market. After one trip to the market, you can come home with fresh green peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. With these vegetables, some fresh basil from your garden or the market, and a few extra ingredients bought from the store, you can create the freshest Greek salad that you may eat all year.

Peppers are harvested in August in British Columbia, and you will certainly find some at your local farmer’s market during this month. Their variations in colour can add a lot of visual appeal to your Greek salad as well as slightly different tastes. Did you know that a red pepper is only a green pepper that has matured for longer on the plant? Red peppers are also known to be sweeter, while green peppers are more bitter. Either way, peppers from the market in August are nearly all crisp and fresh.

Cucumbers are available at the farmer’s market in August too. Although they may not all have the same shape (or even same colour) as your typical cucumber from the grocery store, the cucumbers at the farmer’s markets are unbelievably delicious and fresh.

I use cherry tomatoes as the main tomato variation in my Greek salad. This is because they are easy to cut, not very messy, and have a sweet taste. Cherry tomatoes are also extremely plentiful at the farmer’s markets in August. I would suggest using a combination of tomatoes in your Greek salad. For example, try cherry tomatoes with pear drop tomatoes. Both small, the pear drop tomatoes are actually yellow when ripe and have a very different flavour and texture then that of the cherry tomato.

Onions are an option for your Greek salad, although some may not like their harsh taste. Yes, onions are very powerful, but they are also very flavourful and can be quite sweet. Ask a stall vendor at the farmer’s market for his or her sweetest onion, like a Walla Walla. These onions are still quite powerful, but they also have a taste of sweetness to them.

To make a Greek salad, I first cut up my vegetables from the farmer’s market in chunky bits, each large enough to be pierced by a fork. I put them all in a bowl and then I use my hands to crumble some feta cheese on top of the vegetables. I then top that with a little fresh cracked black pepper to add some spice. Finally, I rip up a little of the “king of herbs”, basil, that I cultivate from my backyard garden. If you do not have a garden, basil will surely be available at the farmer’s market. I sprinkle the basil on top of everything in my bowl.

I use only olive oil to dress my salad at this time of year. The vegetables are so fresh that I allow their flavours to dominate the dish without the use of a heavy dressing. Olive oil is a nice touch, but, if you want a stronger dressing, feel free to use a salad dressing of your choice bought from the grocery store or try an artisan dressing from your farmer’s market.