Tomorrow is Wednesday, and that means one thing and one thing only (if you’re particularly fixated on fresh produce, at least): the NYBG Greenmarket! From what the calendar tells me, we’re looking at the last official summer Greenmarket before we move on toward autumn’s bushels and baskets–spicy apple cider and the like–so you might want to think about hoofing it up here while we’re still savoring the flip-flop weather. It’s been pleasantly cool out until now, but some trees are already coloring for fall; it’s going to be scarves and pea coats before you can say “fare thee well peaches.”
Last week’s tasty loot came in the form of apple-cranberry pies, concord grapes, San Marzano tomatoes, jalapenos, bosc pears, and so much more. But along with the fruits, vegetables, and baked goods, I noticed something else: the Greenmarket staffers work really hard. They’re out there each week, trucking away to keep market events moving smoothly, and striving to get the word out to New Yorkers in all the boroughs. Beyond that, they’re holding events within events, like last week’s cooking demonstration. I’m only disappointed that I missed out on the omelettes!
By coming to the Greenmarket, you’re not only supporting your health and an admirable dinner spread, but the farmers and market staff that make all of this possible. Not that you have to be here by tomorrow; the NYBG Greenmarket will stick around on Wednesdays through November 21. In the meantime, below is a recipe tossing together some of the ingredients we’ve been seeing lately, including escarole, fresh beans, and those ripe San Marzano tomatoes.
Weekly Walking Club – Meets every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. by the NYBG information table
Join Public Education staff for an invigorating 1.5 mile loop around the Garden. Wear your walking shoes and bring a bottle of water for a walk that makes a great part of a healthy lifestyle.
Blood Pressure Screenings and Health Education – 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Montefiore Office of Community Health and Wellness staff provide free blood pressure screenings and advice on healthy habits for staying well.
Fitness and the Food Plate – 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
St. Barnabas Hospital health educators focus on fitness and the food plate; free blood pressure and body mass index screenings are also offered.
Escarole with Cannellini Beans
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Slow Cooking, by Melanie Barnard, Charles Pierce Dennis Kelly (Oxmoor House, 2008)
Ingredients (serves 6 to 8)
1 lb. dried cannellini beans or Great Northern beans
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
2 yellow onions, quartered
2 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
8 garlic cloves, 4 left whole, 4 minced
2 fresh sage sprigs
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 oz. pancetta or unsmoked bacon, chopped (optional)
2 heads escarole, about 2 lb. total, cut crosswise into strips 2 inches wide
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, drained
1 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
- Rinse beans under cold running water, place in large bowl, cover with cold water by at least 2 inches and let stand overnight.
- For a quick soak, put beans in a large pot, add water to cover by at least 2 inches and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and let soak for 1 hour. Drain and rinse the beans.
- In a large Dutch oven, combine beans, broth, and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add cold water to cover the beans by 1 1/2 inches. Add onions, carrots, whole garlic cloves and sage. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low, partially cover and simmer gently until the beans are very tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove onions, garlic cloves and sage and discard.
- About 30 minutes before the beans are done, in a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil. Add minced garlic, red pepper flakes and pancetta, sauté until fragrant–about 30 seconds. Add the escarole and sauté until leaves begin to wilt, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until leaves have softened and mixture is reduced to about one-third, 5 to 7 minutes.
- When beans are done, add escarole mixture and stir, breaking up some of the beans with the back of the spoon to thicken the mixture. Stir in lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, with remaining olive oil as condiment. Serves 6 to 8.