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In Season Now: Baby Arugula and Other Greens

One of the greatest gifts of shopping farmers markets is the ability to talk directly to the folks growing your food. Unlike the impersonal grocery store, this is a chance to bridge the gap between people and food.

May is prime time for starting these conversations.

Farmers markets are transitioning from their winter schedules and routines to their summer ones, which means there are more markets, more produce to choose from and more farmers to chat with. While you’re filling your market bag, pause for personal connections. They are what make the experience so special.

Ask how your farmers and their families are doing. Complement their luscious array of produce. Inquire about the field conditions and what’s coming soon. And if you are unfamiliar with something, ask about it. That’s how I learned about lovage last year, a sweet herb with a flavor similar to celery.

And when you’re there, be sure to get some baby greens like arugula. In crates and boxes and bags, the small greens are appearing at stands throughout the state now. Baby arugula, spinach and other greens are in season, a welcome respite from the storage crops of cooler months.

Rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and folic acid, as well as potassium, iron, calcium and more, this nutrient-rich leafy green is perfect in salads like this one. Its peppery flavor is a nice complement to the rich balsamic roasted radishes and sweetness of the sweet potatoes.

Arugula Salad with Balsamic Roasted Radishes and Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4, as a side dish

1 bunch radishes, trimmed, washed and quartered

1 medium sweet potato, cut into ½-inch dice

1 shallot, peeled and quartered

2 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

4 cups baby arugula

Crumbled blue cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.

On a nonstick baking sheet, stir together the radishes, sweet potato and shallot. Drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, stir and then roast for 10-15 minutes move.

Drizzle the roasted vegetables with balsamic vinegar and toss to combine. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.

Toss the roasted vegetables with the baby arugula. Divide onto four plates and drizzle with a little additional balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and, if desired, blue cheese.

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