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Market Watch: Nopales, Dandelions and Finally—Peaches!

Tory Farms returned to the market last Saturday with baskets of their lovely May Crest peaches. The May Crest variety is one of the first to appear for the season and is remarkably sweet and flavorful. Rebecca and Tory Torosian of Tory Farms grow a wide variety of peaches, nectarines, and pluots throughout the season. This week, Rebecca tells me they’ll also have Rose Diamond nectarines and possibly a few of their wonderful apricots.

This week at Knoll Farms, I spied lovely piles of bright green nopales—the tender pads from the prickly pear cactus. Their flavor is slightly tart with a wonderful crisp texture. Nopales are delicious roasted, stewed, pan-fried or steamed and make a tasty addition to quesadillas, scrambled eggs or tacos.

We’re all getting excited about the new summer foods appearing each week at the market, but that doesn’t mean leafy greens are going anywhere. Saturday I scored a beautiful bunch of dandelion greens from Dirty Girl Produce. Dandelion greens have a potent flavor that mellows when their cooked and are delicious steamed braised and used in place of spinach. They also make a complex and spicy addition to your favorite grilled cheese sandwich.

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market Chef, Sarah Henkin, recently demonstrated an easy spring pea-puree and lemon quark tea sandwich. The sandwiches were so tasty, I was inspired to pick up some of this German-style fresh cheese myself. Spring Hill Jersey Cheese in Petaluma makes a quark with a consistency somewhere between sour cream and fromage blanc in three flavors—plain, lemon and garlic. Quark is fabulous spread on toast or sandwiches or used as a dip for veggies or fruit. It also makes a great filling for cheesecake.

In March, Rainbow Mountain Farms from the Butte Creek area outside of Chico joined our market with a lovely selection of Japanese maple trees. Brothers Tommy and Jake Clifford and their father Sars grow 15 cultivars on the family farm and have been bringing small one- and two-gallon pots of these beautiful trees to market for the past couple of months. This Saturday we will say goodbye for the season to the Clifford clan but look forward to seeing them back in the market again next March. If you’re in the market for an elegant, leafy addition to your yard or deck, make sure to visit their stand this week.