Try Something New!

We have a challenge for you this week....when you're shopping at Market, try something new! According to National Geographic, our current diet relies on only about 30 plant species, whereas a few hundred years ago, this number would have been over one thousand! Of course, we encourage you to still pick up all your weekly staples, but why not add something that you've never eaten before?

In addition to all your local favorites, the Market is brimming with unique flavors and products, guaranteed to add something new to your cooking repertoire. So this week, be adventurous! The options are many, but we've picked five foraged, foreign, or unusual products to pique your interest.

1.  Sumac - This deep red Middle Eastern spice is not to be confused with poisonous sumac. The sumac sold at Market is a bright, lemony, versatile spice. Used as the base for za'tar, sumac has endless possibilities! Pick up some of the first melons of the season and try some salted and spiced melon. Add chicken, tomatoes, cukes, a loaf of bread, and parsley to your grocery list and enjoy sumac chicken bread salad for a delicious meal made of all local ingredients!  Grab some sweet cherries and cool off with a cherry sumac swizzle - fun to drink AND to say!

2.  Malabar spinach - Not actually spinach, this leafy green (literally) shoots into action as the summer temperature soars - it's a very prolific vining plant. Used in many Asian, Indian, and African cuisines, this unusual leafy green is a great product to use in salads as the cool-temperature-loving arugula and lettuces begin to wane in the heat of summer. The thicker leaves have a citrus, peppery brightness. You can use it fresh or cooked in soups, quiche, or a curry!

3.  Water spinach - Water spinach is another unusual, tasty green that is often used in Asian cooking. Don't toss the stems, they are arguably the most delightful part - hollow, crisp, and not-too-fibrous! Water spinach can be eaten raw, but is more commonly the star of a stir-fry like this spicy eggplant, tofu, and water spinach stir fry or a simple garlic stir fry

4.  Hickory nuts - Nuts grow wild all around us! Hickory nuts are a particular treat - these sweet, rich nuts are delightful substitutes for walnuts or pecans in recipes. Rarely commercially-available because the trees are difficult to cultivate and the nuts are hard to crack, our members do the labor-intensive shelling for you. Try Grandma's hickory nut cake or these hickory nut shortbread cookies really let the flavor shine thru. We love simply roasting them and tossing them on our favorite salad (often with blue cheese - it's a delicious match!).

5.  Purslane - you may think of purslane as a weed, but it is a delicious, nutrient-filled winner in the kitchen! Juicy and bright, add it raw to sandwiches and salads, such as this tomato, cucumber, purslane salad with a jalapeno punch. Or this purslane pesto is quick and easy and adds a burst of flavor to some grilled veggies and chicken. Feel free to substitute hickory nuts for the walnuts in this recipe. Looking for something new to make for dinner?  Try these vietnamese pork chops with pickled watermelon and purslane.

Whatever 'new' product at Market interests you - try it this week! Trying new foods is easy, fun, and you may just find a new favorite.

We hope your weekend is filled with culinary adventure!