|Sunday morning shopping at the Farmers’ Market in Coín (Málaga). What will I find today?|
I’ve been shopping for the first time at the Mercado Agroalimentario de Coín, the farmers’ market in the town of Coín, seven kilometers inland from where I live. Coín, located in the fertile, well-watered Guadalhorce Valley, is famous for its produce. A zillion years ago (1970s) I shopped at the big wholesale market there, hauling home whole crates of fruits and vegetables at their peak of freshness.
|Locally-grown produce–kilómetro cero! At the peak of the season.|
|Lurid violet-hued eggplant (Chinese eggplant is the variety). I’ve never found these where I usually shop, so, of course, I had to buy some.|
|These freshly-pulled onions look terrific. Too bad I just bought a sack of onions. Well, maybe just a few.|
|I found a good selection of fresh herbs at the market. My neighbor, Karine, bought a big bunch of this verdolaga, purslane, which she shared with me.|
|What I came for–these are the famed Huevo de Toro tomatoes of the Guadalhorce Valley. They may not be pretty, but their flavor is outstanding.|
Here’s what’s in my shopping basket: an enormous bunch of red and green chard, a dozen violet-hued skinny eggplants, bunches of purslane and basil, beans and red peppers, a fresh goat’s milk cheese and, the prize, three big misshapen tomatoes.
The immediate question is, what to make for dinner?
Tomato, Cheese and Basil
Tomates Huevo de Toro con Queso de Cabra y Albahaca
|The fragrance of summer–fresh basil and sliced tomatoes.|
This simple dish celebrates the goodness of the Huevo de Toro tomatoes. Slice them and place on a plate. Add sliced fresh goat cheese, basil leaves, flaky salt and extra virgin olive oil. I bought the locally-made goat cheese at the market too.
Salad with Beans, Corn and Purslane
Ensalada con Judías Verdes, Maiz y Verdolaga
|Green purslane leaves have a slightly tangy flavor, good in a salad combo.|
Purslane is an edible “weed.” The fleshy leaves, stems and flowers are edible, raw or cooked. The slightly tangy taste of the leaves marries well in a salad.
My salad with purslane is part market-inspired and part fridge forage. Use more or less of the listed ingredients or swap in others to suit yourself. Some crumbled feta cheese would be a good addition. Add the vinegar or lemon shortly before serving the salad as it tends to leach the snappy green color from the beans.
Cooked green beans
Cooked corn, cut off the cob
Chopped red bell pepper
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Sherry vinegar or lemon juice
Cut beans into 1-inch lengths. Place in a bowl. Add the corn, red pepper, onion, celery, red pepper flakes, purslane, salt and pepper. Add oil and mix well. Immediately before serving add the vinegar or lemon juice.
Eggplant La Mancha Style
Berenjenas a la Manchega (Alboronía)
|Eggplant are cooked in olive oil with tomatoes and onions. A lovely side dish.|
This recipe comes from La Mancha, where it is made with tiny green eggplants, the same variety that are pickled, Almagro style. Here they are “stewed” with medieval spicing of cumin and caraway in a version of the Moorish dish, alboronía. Nowadays, it is made with tomatoes and peppers, but originally, before there were tomatoes, the eggplant would have been braised with meat juices.
I used skinny Chinese eggplant and sliced them, unpeeled, crosswise. If using large globe eggplant, cut them into ½-inch cubes. You may choose to peel the large eggplant if they have tougher skins.
I like this technique of first cooking the eggplant in boiling salted water before adding it to the sofrito of olive oil, onions and tomatoes. The pieces of eggplant keep their shape and do not need so much oil.
Serve the eggplant, hot or room temperature, as a side with lamb or chicken. Or, add chickpeas to make a vegetarian main course.
1 ½ pounds eggplant
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chopped onions
¼ cup chopped green pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 ½ cups peeled and crushed tomatoes
¼ teaspoon cumin
Freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Chopped fresh mint or parsley for garnish
Cut off and discard stems. Slice the eggplant crosswise (or cut into ½-inch cubes). Bring a pot of salted water to a boil with the bay leaf. Add the eggplant and cook until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain well. Discard the bay leaf.
Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the onion, green pepper and garlic until golden, 4 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the eggplant and tomato and sauté for 1 minute. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt, cumin and pepper. Reduce the heat and cook until most of the liquid has cooked away and tomatoes are thick, 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the caraway seeds and lemon juice.
Serve hot or room temperature garnished with chopped mint.
Chard Sauté with Raisins and Pistachios
Acelgas Salteadas con Pasas y Pistachios
|Chopped leaves and stems of chard are cooked with olive oil and garlic (bacon optional). Sweetness of raisins and crunch of pistachios make the chard special.|
This is an adaptation of a classic recipe, combining greens such as chard or spinach with raisins and pine nuts. I didn’t have any super-sweet Málaga raisins, so I used seedless sultanas, and I didn’t have pine nuts, so I substituted pistachios. Brilliant.
Use all green or rainbow chard.
|Green and red chard (acelga).|
1 ½ pounds chard
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ounce diced bacon (optional)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup water
¼ cup seedless sultanas
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cloves
Lemon juice, to taste
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pistachios
Wash the chard well, trim off any discolored parts and chop stems and leaves.
Heat the oil in a deep pan. Add the bacon, if using, and garlic. When garlic begins to turn golden, add the chard. Turn it in the oil for 2 minutes. Add the water, currants, salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the chard is very tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for another 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Sprinkle with the chopped pistachios to serve. Serve the chard hot, room temperature or cold.
|Dinner from the market–clockwise from upper left, Bean, Corn and Purslane Salad; grilled chicken, sliced tomato, Chard with Raisins and Pistachios, and Eggplant La Mancha Style.|
|At the Coín market, a vendor of locally-made ceramics|