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Early Spring in the Markets

Spring artichokes for February

Punxutawney Phil may have seen his shadow a few days ago, but here in the SoCal farmers’ markets, early spring green is already here. Namely, the exiting arrival of the first small, tender, sweet English shelling peas. Tamai Farms has them at Mar Vista on Sunday and the Wednesday and Saturday Pico Santa Monica markets. You’ll also find them at Tutti Fruitti and McGrath Farms, among others. Jerry Rutiz brought his first spring artichokes to Santa Monica today as well as some of the season’s first green garlic. Together, these three ingredients would make a delicious sauté. Scatter a handful of spicy-sweet arugula flowers over the top and you’ve got yourself a gorgeous dish.

German Butterballs in all their glory

Also new this week is one of my favorite potato varieties — German Butterball — available from Weiser Family Farms (at various farmers’ markets around town). Aptly named, they really are golden and buttery tasting, nothing like — I mean nothing like — generic spuds.

The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market launches its 2010 Library Panel Series on Thursday, February 11 at 7 p.m. with “The Immoveable Feast: Deep Roots and Lofty Dreams.” Experienced tree fruit growers and experts David Karp, Bob Polito, John Tenerelli and Steve Smith discuss how they use both age-old growing practices and bold innovation to grow “the perfect fruit.”  Free and open to the public. Santa Monica Public Library, MLK Jr. Auditorium, 601 Santa Monica Blvd., smpl.org.

Amelia Saltsman is the author of the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook.

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