How to shop the market like a pro

Meggs Hannes lives and breathes local food by running two of Victoria’s finest farmers’ markets – Lancefield and Woodend.

Here’s her top five picks for spring produce and how to cook with them:

  1. Garlic shoots (scapes)
    What to look for: Curly stalks as they will not be chewy and keep them in a paper bag in the fridge.
    Cooking ideas: Lamb and beef marinades, Moroccan spiced dishes, pureed with olive oil, pine nuts and parmesan to make a simple spring pesto.
  2. Asparagus
    What to look for: Thin, crisp spears that are vibrant in colour
    Cooking ideas: Add to risottos, as a simple side dish to your favourite meat cut, team with broad beans and young artichokes for a warm salad.
  3. Broad beans
    What to look for: Pods smaller than your little finger as that means the beans inside will be bright green and won't need the dreaded 'double peeling'.
    Cooking ideas:  Add blanched to salads, or for something visual, pair them up with violets from the garden for a splash of colour.
  4. Globe artichokes
    What to look for: Fairly tight leaves with a slight 'bloom'. Eat them the day of purchase as they oxidise quickly.
    Cooking ideas: Very popular in Italian cooking, they do best with as little handling and cooking as possible - ask your farmer how they like to prepare them!
  5. Greens: lettuce, chard, dandelion and nettle
    What to look for: Consider trying some you have never eaten before, like dandelion or mibuna - the bitter greens are great for your health, stimulate the digestion and are also very tasty!
    Cooking ideas: There are many different varieties of salad greens available at farmers' markets. Amaranth, nettle, chard and kale can all be cooked in similar ways; blanched, drained well and added to a pie with beaten free-range eggs, pure cream, herbs (try chervil or dill) and some crumbled feta.

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