Market Watch: Luella's Chef Ben de Vries Picks Up Spring Produce


For Chef Ben de Vries, spring at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is a homecoming for some of his favorite produce. “Roasted artichokes, avocados sprinkled with balsamic, and asparagus fresh off the grill are just a few of the preparations I like to make right now,” he told me. At his Russian Hill restaurant, Luella, the dishes are a reflection of his love of the season.

Ben is stocking up on fava beans from Knoll Farms, avocados from Brokaw Nursery and asparagus from Capay Organic. His most recent addition to Luella’s Italian-influenced menu is house-made ricotta paired with fresh grilled asparagus, fried capers, mint and red onion. Other signs of spring are apparent in dishes like the pan-roasted chicken accented with fresh chervil, baby carrots and English peas, and an artichoke soup drizzled with lemon oil and shaved pecorino.

“When I see the favas and peas show up, I immediately start thinking about pasta,” Ben told me. He will be in the CUESA Classroom this Saturday to show us an easy ravioli dish stuffed with a purée of these spring treats. He will also demonstrate a recipe for grilled house-made ricotta wrapped in radicchio.

Stop by the market on Saturday to check out Ben in action starting at 11 am, and stick around after for a demo from Lauren Kiino, chef and owner of Il Cane Rosso. All cooking demos are free and open to the public.

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