April 18, 2012 at 3:26 PM

See You at the Farmers’ Market!

"The Santa Fe Farmers' Market opened with just a handful of farmers in the late 1960s. Now it's the largest in the state and one of the best in the country"

By Lynn Cline

Gourmet Girl

Lynn Cline is a former food editor and the author of two books – Romantic Days and Nights in Santa Fe and Literary Pilgrims: The Santa Fe and Taos Writers' Colonies, 1915-1950. She also loves to cook, when not dining out.

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The lilacs are blooming, the irises are waking up from their winter slumber, and it's spring in Santa Fe, which means the Santa Fe Farmers' Market is getting ready to expand its bounty as well as its hours.

Starting May 1, the market will be open on Tuesdays as well as Saturdays, from 7 a.m. to noon in the Railyard. Look for seasonal fare including asparagus, spinach, greens, fresh cut flowers and so much more.

"Coming into May, the peas should be ready, and then you'll start seeing the onions and root vegetables in late May, followed by the squash," says Miguel Gallegos, the market's operations manager. "We're all hoping that we get to see the cherries, apricots and other fruits, as long as we don't have a late frost. We're crossing our fingers."

The Santa Fe Farmers' Market opened with just a handful of farmers in the late 1960s, who sold produce from the back of their trucks on Saturdays. Now it's the largest in the state. I first started shopping the market after I moved here in 1993. Back then, it was located in the parking lot of the Sanbusco Center with just a fraction of the farmers who sell there today. Over the years, the market moved to the lot next to SITE Santa Fe and then the parking lot of the DeVargas Center, before getting its own permanent location in the Railyard.

Today, the Santa Fe Farmers' Market is one of the best in the country, with dozens of farmers and growers and visitors from around the world. Wherever the market moved over the decades, countless loyal customers have followed, filling their bags with arugula, peaches, goat cheese, artisanal breads, raspberry red chile jam, fresh eggs, organic chicken and buffalo meat, sausages, mushrooms, shishito peppers, fresh roasted green chile, corn, melon and more. It's incredible how much delectable food is grown here in the high desert!

But what makes it so unique are the farmers, and this year there are 133 of them. "That's what it all boils down to—the farmers," Gallegos says. "We only allow farmers located in the 15 northern counties of New Mexico. And the whole mission and goal of the market is for consumers to be able to buy from the farmers directly."

In addition to offering a cornucopia of fresh and often organic food, the market also is a wonderful place to see old friends and make new ones. You'll see neighbors sharing news and recipes, families shopping together and children sampling veggies they've never seen before. You can also talk with the farmers about how they grow their food and cook it, and ask them questions about foods you've not encountered before.

This spring, the market has a busy schedule of events, starting with a May Day Celebration on Saturday, May 5 at 11 a.m. with Annie Rose the Flower Fairy. Kids can dance around the maypole and celebrate the new season of growing. A Mothers' Day Tea Party takes place Saturday, May 11 (and Sunday May 12 at 11 a.m. at the Railyard Artisan Market, held in the Santa Fe Farmers' Market Pavilion.

Look for the Southside Farmers' Market to open in July. For more information, visit www.santafefarmersmarket.com

Here are a few recipes celebrating spring from the Santa Fe Farmers' Market website.

FLANK STEAK BRUSCHETTA WITH HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALSA (Courtesy of Chef Oliver Ridgeway of Inn of the Anasazi)

Heirloom Tomato Salsa
4 medium heirloom tomatoes
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno pepper
Fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 small lime
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste

Roughly chop tomatoes and onion and put in a mixing bowl. Mince garlic. Remove seeds from jalapeno pepper and mince. Add garlic and jalapeno pepper to the tomatoes and onions.

Chop a handful of fresh cilantro and add it to the salsa. Add the lime juice and cumin to salsa, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Flank Steak
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grill seasoning blend
1 teaspoon smoked paprika, ground chipotle chile powder or ground cumin
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds flank steak

Mix garlic, grill seasoning blend, smoked paprika (or chile powder or cumin), hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar. Whisk in olive oil. Place steaks in a shallow dish and coat evenly with marinade. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to high, and grill flank steaks for six to seven minutes per side.

Bruschetta
1 narrow Italian or French loaf of bread
1 head of garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven on broiler setting. Place a rack approximately six inches from broiler.

Slice the loaf of bread, on the bias, into 3/4-inch slices. Place bread in oven on sheet pan and broil until golden brown on both sides, approximately 2 minutes for the first side and 1 to 1 1/2 for second side. Remove to a platter and rub each slice of bread with the garlic and then brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

To serve, slice steaks against the grain, place on bruschettas and top with the heirloom tomato salsa.

RHUBARB COMPOTE (Courtesy of Talon de Gato Farm)
1 pound rhubarb
½ cup sugar (or to taste)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon flour
6 ounces all-purpose flour
2 ounces whole cornmeal
4 ounces margarine
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 ounces brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Trim the rhubarb and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Toss with the sugar and flour, and set aside for the juices to flow.

Thoroughly cut the margarine into the flour with a pastry cutter, and then add the sugar and cinnamon and work with the pastry cutter some more. Sprinkle with a few drops of water and toss with a fork (avoid making pastry, but there should be no flour dust; lumps are ok).

Put the rhubarb with a tablespoon or two of water in a dish, and spoon over the topping. Bake (on a baking tray)  for 20-30 minutes until lightly colored, then reduce heat to 300 degrees and cook until browned.

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