I love Farmer's Markets. Doesn't matter how convenient and sometimes cheaper a supermarket may be, it will never be able to give you that individual touch and the feeling of knowing where your food comes from. I go as often as I can, I wish there were more close to where I leave.
Where I come from they've always been the place to buy your food. Even though I grew up in the rush of México city my mother and her mother always used to and still go to the mercados. Organized warehouses where every stall is owned by a different person selling a different thing. In one corridor you find the butchers; one selling beef, another one pork and sausages and next to them the poultry stall; the fishmonger and there's even one exclusively to offal. Then the fruit area: papayas, guavas, strawberries, avocados, pomegranates, the biggest and sweetest watermelons and mangoes, one or two stalls dedicated only to sell dried fruit and nuts and one for dried chillies (of course!)
The vegetable area is usually the biggest; perfectly arranged piles with the colors of the rainbow, shiny veggies and the freshest lettuces and herbs. So pretty to look at , and the sellers always smiling and ready to chit chat about anything, or everything. It's almost therapeutic to do a grocery run.
This makes me understand why despite the big transnational supermarket chains with their almost unbelievable prices and expensive marketing, the mercados are still part of our culture and on the rise worldwide as we all look for a more sustainable and ethical way of living.
Luckily for me the Matakana Farmer's Market opens every Saturday and in those days I feel I'm following my mother's steps all the way from the other side of the world.
Last weekend I bought a bunch of the freshest beetroot to make this beetroot and chickpea cakes. They still had their leaves attached shiny and firm proving that the gap between the harvest and the consuming wasn't going to be big; it was rude not to use them so I decided to make the following recipe.
Borani is an Iranian dip made with yogurt and vegetables. It's not only delicious and super easy to make but this waste not/want not use of beetroot stalks and leaves you're giving your body a good those of plant powered iron, calcium and vitamin K.
As it's a cold dish it's perfect for a summery tapas table, served with flat bread or crudités. I also use it as a sauce for vegetable fritters or even (I'm sure this will raise a few eyebrows) with falafel.
Rosy yogurt dip
Leaves and stalks of 5 fresh beetroot, you could substitute with chard or spinach but you won't get the lovely rosy hue
1 garlic clove, pureed with the back of a knife or squeezed out of a garlic press
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
2 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups Greek yogurt, thick
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
1 tsp Za'atar, optional
Remove the stalks and leaves from the bunch of beetroot and wash; keep the roots for another dish. Line the leaves and stems back up in a bunch and shred finely using a knife. Wilt in a hot pan with 1/2 tbsp of olive oil for one minute, then take off the heat and mix pureed garlic, the lemon zest and juice, the remaining 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and the yogurt (you could use coconut yogurt here for a non-dairy version). Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 1 hr. Just before serving top with toasted sunflower seeds and za’atar, if using, and serve with crudités wholemeal flat bread.