Two weeks ago there were at least two, possibly three market vendors displaying large, beautifully green and white fennel bulbs, this week, there were none. I was about to settle into panic mode, I was frantically stalking table after table looking for the feathery fronds.
I did NOT want to veer from this week’s plan.
With desperation in my voice, I asked Noella Oss of Ossome Acres if she had any, knowing full well there were none on her tables.
A winking smile spread across her face.
“We have one, but it’s old, from last week,” she said.
She opened up a plastic bin from behind the tent and pulled out a giant bulb. The fronds weren’t the luscious green of the week before, rather a light green, bordering on brown in spots. But the white bulb was large and thick and that’s exactly what I needed.
I told her my plans.
She told me the bulb would suit them perfectly.
Even better at the week-old, discounted price she gave!
And with that, the first cioppino of the season was born.
For cioppino, I usually use the Bon Appetit recipe as it has never steered me wrong. But this time I got a little adventurous and veered from the word-for-word recipe. While I kept to the base, I changed things up a bit to make it more market-fresh.
Because cioppino is usually a cold-weather meal, the veggie content has never been market-fresh. It’s always been canned tomatoes, shipped in fennel, onions, and seafood too. But with Saturday’s forecast calling for heavy rain, I thought it a perfect opportunity to experiment with my cioppino.
Instead of canned tomatoes, I used fresh roma tomatoes that I crushed in the blender; my onion, garlic and fennel were also fresh and local. The major seafood component, pacific cod, was acquired from Ron “the fish guy” at Wild Westcoast Seafoods.
In recipes past, I’ve used halibut for the white fish, but halibut is crazy expensive right now. Ron steered us towards the pacific cod (“chunkies”) that is similar to halibut, albeit a bit chewier, and at a fraction of the cost.
Technically the crusty bread wasn’t acquired at the market, but we did pick the loaf up from Bread Affair at Granville Island, which also has a booth at the market, so it, too, had a market connection.
Honestly, I don’t know if the taste was any better, but I do know it wasn’t worse. I love my cioppino. I’ve loved it ever since my first recollection of it when in San Francisco years ago, and this batch did not disappoint. Every slurp was a savoury adventure of glorious goodness.
Another market score!
Base recipe here
This week’s loot:
Wild Westcoast Seafoods: • Pacific cod: $8
Ossome Acres: • 6 German butter potatoes: $2.30
• 1 bag of dragon-tongue beans: $2.10
• 1 fennel: $2.25
Zaklan Heritage Farm: • 1 onion: $0.70
• 4 sweet peppers: $4.65
• 2 mustard greens: $5
• 1 garlic bulb: $1.80
• 4 roma tomatoes: $2.28
Harvest Direct Farms: • 5 ambrosia apples: $5
Muy Rico: • 1 container pico de gallo: $5
Total spent was $39.10, leaving 90 cents to spend on next week’s $40 budget.
Last week Aaron Oss encouraged me to take a chomp out of one of his purple and white dragon tongue beans. It was crisp, it was juicy, and by golly that colour tugged at my pretty little taste buds.
I had hoped to throw the beans into a salad, but got so bogged down with my first week of physics, I didn’t end up using them beyond mixing them into a stir fry and eating them raw with hummus. Both of which were fine, but I wanted to really showcase their uniqueness. So for this week, I tracked down a salad recipe that called for fingerling potatoes, which I switched out for German butter potatoes.
I baked the potatoes, made my own viniagrette, blanched the beans, which were supposed to change from their pretty spots to green, but in the end only partially changed, mixed it all together.
Every bite was an explosion of succulent flavour. So tasty. So good. So going to be making again.
Can you guess what I’m making next week?
I’m on the hunt for tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro and salt. It’s something already offered at the market, but something I’m going to try my hand at making market-fresh, homemade.
What are you on the hunt for?
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