Farmers Feast 03: Tomatillo Margarita & Strawberry Beet Granita


WHOA FALL. When did you get here? Wasn’t it just August 1st? 

This month’s Farmers Feast was set to come out mid-August but some events I was working on just took over and before I knew it we were in September. 

I do love fall (endlessly), but I’m feeling a bit mournful about the end of freshly plucked fruits and vegetables from the market. This last basket I received was like a rainbow of colours and flavours. When I saw it, I literally gasped at it’s beauty. August always yields the most incredible bounty and this basket was proof of that. Just look at it. Are you looking? ARE YOU? 


I had offered an idea that we use most of the baskets contents to make mocktails/cocktails this month, but once I had my hands on it I had other ideas…. as usual. We’re releasing this month in two parts. The first being “drinks” (kind of), and the second a salad that will be coming next week. The strawberry-beet granita is just what you’d expect, bright strawberry flavour with just a slight earthy undertone that compliments the flavours really well. Consumed on a scalding day, it was just what the body needed. The tomatillo margarita might make you raise an eyebrow at my thought process, but the tartness from the tomatillos is different than that of a lime (think: unripe plum) and it adds another dimension to the classic cocktail. I was pretty thrilled with how it came out…and I consumed two of them…back-to-back. I blame the heat *cough*

The farmers who generously donated their produce this month were: 

Warner Farms – Peaches & Apricots
Avonmore Berry Farm - Strawberries
Roots Down Organic Farm - Shishito Peppers & Tomatillos
Jambican Garden - Shiso
Roots & Shoots - Kale
Just Farms – Beets
Ingelside Tomatoes

Linda’s Garden – Canary melon
Watarah Downs Organic Farm - Lemon Cucumbers


Strawberry Beet Granita
makes 2 large/4 small portions

1-2 small Chioggia beets (yellow beets will work too), peeled and cut into chunks
1lb strawberries, rinsed & tops removed
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 tbsp lemon juice, optional
tiny pinch salt
mint, to garnish (optional)

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and toss the beets in. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until fork tender, 15-20 minutes. Strain and run under cold water until cooled to the touch. 

Place all the ingredients in a blender and taste for sugar and lemon juice. Add more if needed. 

Pour mixture into a shallow baking dish and place flat in the freezer. After 30 minutes or when you can see the edges are starting to freeze, pull the sides into the center and return to the freezer. Repeat every 30 minutes until you have a loose mixture of tiny ice chunks, about 1 1/2 hours. Spoon into cups that have been in the freezer for an hour. 


Tomatillo Margaritas
makes 4 cocktails

Simple Syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold water

Bring the water and sugar to a boil until sugar dissolves. Let cool completely. 

2 tbsp coarse salt
zest from 2 limes (use the limes you’re going to juice)

Stir the lime zest and salt together. 

simple syrup
2 small tomatillos
4 limes
4 oz white tequila
crushed ice

Puree the tomatillos and push through a fine-mesh sieve to separate the pulp and the juice. Juice the limes into the juice of the tomatillos. 

In a large pitcher, stir the lime/tomatillo juice, the simple syrup (add half at a time and taste to make sure it’s not too sweet) and tequila. Taste and add more lime or simple syrup. Stir well and chill for at least an hour. 

Use a wedge of lime to moisten the rim of your glass and dip into the rim mixture. Fill glasses with crushed ice and pour margarita over. 


Farmers Feast 02: A Promise of Picnics [Toasted Rye w Labneh, Fava/Sweet Pea/Mizuna Spread + Cold Avocado & Cucumber Soup]


I promised myself I would picnic more this summer. Spend more time outside, feeling the breeze dance on my skin and the sounds of passing voices buzz in my ear, pack up a cooler filled with cold soups and icy drinks, sandwich-making ingredients and snacks and remember what it was like to not have deadlines breathing hot against my neck, or obligations too important to pass on. 

So far this summer, I’ve managed to fit one picnic in – I’m not all that successful at keeping my word to myself.  That said, it was a very lovely one where we gathered with friends at a dog park nearby, one brilliantly green and lush with weeping willows and an abundance of grassy spots to laze about during the seemingly infinite days of summer.  We drank cold beers (illegally – gasp!) and used a pocket knife to gnaw hunks of Piave cheese onto waiting apple and pear slices. We watched the dogs, tails thwarting back and forth, up and down in cheerful celebration, and rubbed their bellies when they came by for a drink of water and a slice of fruit. It was everything a picnic should have, and could have been. I want more days like that. I vow to make time for them before the absolutely endless days of winter arrive again.

When I arrived at Pascale’s shop to pick up the Farmers Feast basket this month, she explained that she and Tara went with the theme of “green” for the basket, the sides of the it draped in leaves and stalks of every shade from emerald to forest green.  It’s always such a treat poking through the ingredients, marvelling at the freshness of them and gently dusting the dirt from their roots. It was hard to ignore the only non-green sparks of colour from the purple kohlrabi and the crimson radish orbs.   


Typically, I try to incorporate the Farmers Feast basket into one meal using as many of the ingredients as possible. This time around, Tara and Pascale decided that maybe it would be neat to create a few different dishes using the ingredients. Never being one to turn down a challenge, I got to work thinking of how I wanted to tackle the box and eventually came up with a theme of my own – a picnic lunch! I started out working off a soup and sandwich concept  and came up with a cold, creamy and refreshing soup made with avocados and cucumbers (and topped with salty kohlrabi chips!) and an open faced rye crostini with a kicky garlic scape labneh (salted, strained yogurt that turns thick – almost like cream cheese, but way better), a fava bean/sweet pea/mizuna spread that was sweet and bright and just a tiny bit bitter from the greens, and some thinly sliced radishes to add crunch, colour and a bit of a spicy bite. Everyting married so well - each bite offering creamy, tart, spicy, crunchy, sour and savory. My mouth was happy, my stomach even more so. It’s been absolutely been my favourite Farmers Feast to create, and potentially one of my favourite recipes to post on the blog (which says a lot because I’ve been kicking around here for some time). 


The key here is that you don’t have to put all the recipes together. You can just make the spread or the labneh, or you can just make the soup on its own. Use what you have in your garden and at your farmers market to decide what you’re able to make, and adapt the recipes based on your produce availability. If you don’t have garlic scapes for the labneh, add half a clove of fresh garlic or even some fresh herbs instead. If you don’t have fava beans, make the spread with just sweet peas. It’s that easy! This is just a guide to what you could be doing with all the greens that summer’s throwing at us right now. 


The wonderful, tireless farmers that provided the ingredients for this month’s Farmers Feast are: 

Mizuna – Jambican Studio Gardens
Bok Choy – Roots & Shoots Farm
Apple Cider Vinegar – Hall’s Apple Market
Kohlrabi – Luxy Farms
Cucumbers & Radishes – Linda’s Garden
Sweet Peas – Limeydale
Belarus Garlic – Acorn Creek Garden Farm
Fava Beans – Waratah Downs Organic Farm

We’ve started giving away some market bucks for those of you in Ottawa and this month is no different! See below on how you can enter to win one free item from one of this month’s participating farms. 

1. Leave a comment below telling me what you would do with one (or all) of the ingredients above. 

For extra entries (leave a new comment for each)
1. “Like” Ottawa Farmers Market on Facebook (1 extra entry)
2. Follow @OttawaFarmMkt on Twitter (1 extra entry)
3. Subscribe to the monthly newsletter and let me know you did in a separate comment (1 extra entry)

We will pick a winner at random this coming Tuesday, July 9th.


Toasted Rye w Labneh, Fava/Sweet Pea/Mizuna Spread + Cold Avocado & Cucumber Soup

toast recipe adapted from La Tartine Courmande
serves 2

For the toasts:
1 1/2 cups Fava, Sweet Pea & Mizuna Spread, recipe follows
1 cup garlic scape labneh, recipe follows
4 slices rye (or bread of choice), toasted
4 radishes, sliced thin
pea shoots, optional
raw sweet peas, optional (for garnish)
fresh cracked pepper

Slather each slice of toasted bread with the labneh. Spoon a heaping mound of the bean/pea spread on top. Garnish with radish slices, pea shoots and raw sweet peas. 

Fava, Sweet Pea & Mizuna Spread
makes 2 cups

1 1/2 cups cooked fava beans, shells removed
1 1/2 cups blanched sweet peas, out of the shell (save about 2 tbsp to stir into the finished spread)
2 tbsp chopped mint
1/2 cup chopped mizuna (a bitter leafy green)
Juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic

Place ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the dip is spreadable but still has a few chunks to it. Stir in the 2 tbsp of cooked sweet peas. 

Garlic Scape Labneh
makes 1 cup

1 1/2 cups plain, full fat yogurt
2 garlic scapes, minced
1/2 tsp salt

Stir ingredients to combine. Place in a colander lined with a few layers of cheesecloth and let drain over night in the fridge. In the morning, pull the corners of the cheesecloth together and give the labneh a little squeeze to release any extra moisture. Scrape into a dish. Will keep covered for a week. 


Chilled Lime, Avocado & Cucumber Soup
serves 2

1 ripe avocado
4 baby (1/2 large) cucumbers, rough chopped
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced 
Juice of 1 lime (1/2 if you like it less tart)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup plain yogurt
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup cold water

Place all ingredients except for the water in the blender and blend until smooth. If it’s too thick, add water a little at a time until desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lime if needed. 

Kohlrabi Chips
makes about 1 cup of chips

2 large kohlrabi, stems removed and sliced thin on a mandolin 
vegetable oil
coarse salt

Preheat oven to 250. 
Toss kohlrabi with oil and a few pinches of salt and place on a rack lined cookie sheet so the heat can evenly bake the chips. Bake for 30-45 minutes, turning the pan every so often, until golden brown and crisp. 


Last Sigh of Summer | Farmers Feast #4 [Propeller ESB & Chipotle Braised Lamb Shank Tostadas]

I’m a season pusher. The crazy person wearing a wool sweater and heavy boots the second the mercury drops below 20 degrees. If it could be between +5 and +15 all year round, I’d be pleased as flaky apple pie (you know, because it would be apple season year round!) 

I’m ready for fall and tired of summer. Tired of being a sweaty mess wherever I show up. Totally over wearing shorts and tank tops. Exhausted from one too many nights spent awake misting ourselves to cool down. Ready for a change - boots, sweaters, mittens and cold noses. Wrapping fingers around hot mugs of tea, pulling out the quilt we regretfully tuck into the wooden trunk each spring, longer, tighter hugs and the unmistakable sound of leaves crunching beneath feet. 

It’s not all bad, though. I swear I’m not a total curmudgeon and I definitely will miss certain aspects of summer. Sitting on the balcony late into the night under the cover of winding bean vines, spending my lunch hour reading on the patio at work, dangling my toes in the water while I sip sangria at Mr. GL’s parents, sheets drying in the sun, but mostly I’ll miss the food. Terribly so. Fresh produce from the market, eating salsa that’s still warm from the just-picked tomatoes, the way a cucumber tastes when it’s plucked right from the plant, bright flavours and citrus-heavy crudo. Those are the things I find myself nostalgic for during the dark winter months. 

As I perused the Farmers Feast basket this month, packed with vibrant yellow beans, lamb shanks and a metric tonne of fragrant shisito peppers (among other things), my mind started moving in the direction of a curry. Something comforting and heavy. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to stretch the days of summer and cook the way I have been the last three months. So I made myself a compromise. I could do a heavy braise so long as the flavours were balanced out with something light and citrusy. And you know my penchance for anything taco/burrito/tostada related, right? I’d pretty much trample my own mother for a bite of a taco. Don’t tell her! (Sorry Deb!). It wasn’t long before I was braising the lamb in a savoury mix of extra special bitter beer and Chipotle while zipping up a sweet and spicy salsa. 

As usual, I was blown away by the incredible ingredients that came in the basket. Many, many thanks to the Farmers who provided this month’s feast & the Ottawa Farmers Market;

Yellow beans – Just Farms
Ground Cherries – Needhams
Lamb – Stevenson Farm
Amber Mustard – Somerford & Hall
Peppers & Eggplants – Roots Down Organic Farm 

Propeller ESB & Chipotle Braised Lamb Shank Tostadas with Roasted Shisito, Tomatillo & Ground Cherry Salsa

makes 4 tostadas

I used Propeller ESB because it’s Canadian and because I love it. You can use whatever ESB is available to you, but if you can find Propeller in your city, I highly recommend it! 

Chipotle in Adobo can be found in the Mexican section of most grocery stores. They’re usually tucked in with the pickled jalapenos/refried beans. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also make your own at home.  

Braised Lamb Shanks
2 lamb shanks (about 2-3lbs together)
1/2 bottle Extra Special Bitter beer
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tbsp amber-ale mustard (something on the milder side)
1 canned Chipotle (in adobo) + 2 tbsp adobo sauce
salt and pepper
vegetable oil

Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle in a tsp or two of oil oil (enough to coat the pan). Pat the shanks dry and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, place the shanks in the pan and brown on all sides (2 minutes per side). Take your time here, getting good colour on the shanks ensures the best flavour. 

Preheat oven to 325.
In small bowl, mix the beer, adobo, orange juice and a pinch or two of salt. Place the browned shanks in a roasting pan and cover with the braising liquid. Cover in foil and secure it tightly around the edges so no steam escapes. 

Place in the oven and braise for 2 hours or until meat pulls away from the bone really easily. 

Remove shanks and meat and set aside. Skin fat from the braising liquid and poor into a sauce pot. Bring to a boil and let reduce, stirring frequently, until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. 

Use aa fork to shred the meat from the shank and place in a big bowl. Poor the reduced sauce, a little at a time, over the shredded meat and toss to coat. You might have left over sauce - feel free to serve that on the side. 

Roasted Shisito, Tomatillo & Ground Cherry Salsa
Makes 1 1/2 cups

If you’re unable to find shisitos, a sweet Japanese pepper, feel free to simply add another jalapeno or milder pepper of your choice. Perhaps a cubanelle. 

3 shisito peppers, cut in half, seeded/deveined
1 jalapeno pepper, cut in half, seeded/deveined 
1 1/2 cups tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed well
3/4 cup ground cherries, husks removed and rinse well
1/2 small red onion, rough chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp sugar

Turn oven on to broil. 

Cut tomatillos in half . Place Shisito, Jalapeno and Tomatillos on a baking sheet (skin side up) and place under broiler for 1-2 minutes until skins blister and start to get charred. Remove from the oven and dump into the food processor along with the cherries, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime, sugar and a pinch or two of salt. Process in quick pulses so it still has some texture to it. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. 

Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

To Finish: 
4 corn tortillas

Garnish (optional):
sliced limes
fresh cilantro
Sour cream/Mexican Crema
Manchego or Feta
pickled pepper rounds 

In a dry pan over high heat, place one tortilla at a time and let it bubble and brown on each side (about 30 seconds per side). 

Place a crispy tortilla on each plate and top with lamb, salsa, sour cream, cilantro, cheese and a squeeze of lime. Take a quick second to say a thanks to the hard working farmers who made this food possible, and then dive in!


Disclaimer: Farmers Feast is a partnership with the Ottawa Farmers Market. I am not compensated beyond the ingredients given from the market. Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.  


Farmers Feast #3 [Warm Caramelized Corn, Shiro Plum & Patty Pan Salad]

Another month, another Farmers Feast. 

This time, it was all about the corn. The beautiful, golden yellow and satisfyingly sweet corn. With the recent drought still causing uncertainty and stress for our farmers, I worried that I might not get the opportunity to go about my usual late-summer addiction to the succulent golden beauties. 

Imagine my sheer elation when I spied 4 perfect cobs of corn tucked away inside my surprise basket from the Ottawa Farmers Market. I showed up earlier than usual this time, and found Tara zipping around thoughtfully filling my take-away basket full of shiro plums, peppy yellow patty pan squashes, cobs of corn, fragrant tomatoes, pungent purslane & red Russian garlic, Red Deer pepperettes and spiky artichokes. This was going to be a fun one. 

I ultimately decided on a warm, caramelized corn salad packed with all things sweet, savoury, creamy and crunchy. I wanted to do something that was simple and speedy to make in the extreme heat we’ve been having lately. It was nearly impossible to add everything from the basket into the salad, but I tried to use as much as was possible without overdoing it. Rest assured, everything else found a happy home in my tummy. 

The vendors who graciously provided this month’s Farmers Feast:
Warner Farms – plums
Kiwan Farms - purslane
Acorn Creek Garden Farm – artichoke
Needham’s Garden Market– sweet corn
Trillium Meadows Red Deer & Wild Boar Farm – pepperettes
Hoople Creek Farm– red Russian garlic
Jaquemet Garden – tomatoes
Bergeron Gardens - Paddy pans

Oh, and while we’re yakking about the market, I want to make sure you all know about Savour Ottawa’s Harvest Table event. This year it’s being held on August 19th at the Ottawa Farmers Market (Brewer Park) and it’s going to be a delicious day. Tickets are $60 ($75 for cream of the crop tickets, which include a tour of the market and some tasty sampling) and include a 5 course menu prepared by some of Ottawa’s most celebrated chefs and local beer and wine. The market will be in full swing as usual, bringing diners and shoppers together for one giant celebration of local food and drink. For more details on restaurants and beer/wine companies involved, have a look at the link above. I really hope I’ll see you there, it’s going to be a fantastic day! 

 Warm Caramelized Corn, Shiro Plum & Patty Pan Salad
serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main course

If you’re unable to find patty pan squashes, zucchini will do in a pinch. The same goes for plums - use red plums or even peaches in place of shiro plums if you’re unable to find them. 

3-4 cobs of corn, kernels sliced off the cob (about 1 1/2-2 cups)
2 tbsp olive oil (or 1 tbsp oil + 1 tbsp butter for extra indulgence)
4-5 patty pan squashes, cut into bite-sized piece
4 shiro plums, pitted and sliced in quarters
3 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2” rounds
1/4 large red onion, minced
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
1 tbsp fresh lime juice + slices for serving
1 tbsp good quality olive oil
Good, aged Lankaaster or Parmesan cheese, crumbled
sea salt and pepper

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil (and butter, if using) into the pan until melted. Add the corn to the pan and spread evenly. Let it sit to brown for 2 minutes. Stir, spread evenly and repeat for another 2 minutes. Add the squash and cook with the corn, stirring occasionally until it’s tender but still has a nice bite to it, about 6-7 minutes. Stir in the red onion, cilantro, lime juice and olive oil. Toss to coat. Taste for seasoning, add salt if needed. 

Place 2-3 tomatoes slices on your plate (or in a serving dish). Spoon corn salad over the tomatoes and top with crumbled cheese, a few grinds of pepper and another squeeze of lime. 


Disclaimer: Farmers Feast is a partnership with the Ottawa Farmers Market. I am not compensated beyond the ingredients given from the market. Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.