To Market, to Market

Freshen up spring with these sweet and savory treats.

Story and photos by Natalie Paramore

Even though the Austin winter weather could easily be mistaken for springtime, April is the first month when real spring produce is officially available. Strawberries, carrots and corn—yes, corn—are ripe for the picking from local farmers markets, and are the perfect ingredients for revamping a few recipes. A little sweet, a little salty and a little savory, these three dishes will be the talk of the season.  


Moroccan Carrot Salad

7 to 8 whole large carrots
4 dates, pitted
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup cilantro, chopped
Juice of half a lime
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Pinch of red pepper flakes

1. Wash and peel the carrots. Roast them in a saute pan over medium heat for 15 minutes, turning a few times until they become slightly tender.
2. In a bowl, combine the olive oil, spices and lime juice with the chopped dates.
3. Place the carrots on a serving dish and top them with the dates and mixed spices. Add the feta and serve with additional cilantro, if desired.

Produce Tip: Carrots
Look for carrots that are smooth and don’t have rootlets or cracks. Carrots should be plump and firm. Carrots lose moisture from their tops, so cut off the greens if you plan on storing the carrots, but they are best enjoyed as fresh as possible.  


Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa

3 ears of corn
1 can (approximately 13 ounces) of black beans
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of one lime

1. Roast the corn on a grill or over an open flame until it’s slightly blackened. Once it’s cool enough to touch, cut the corn from the ear and place it into a mixing bowl.
2. Rinse and drain the black beans. Pat them dry and remove any excess water. Combine the beans with the corn in a bowl.
3. Add diced red onion, cilantro, cumin, salt and lime juice, and stir until well combined.
4. Serve with chips, on salads, with tacos or as a side. The salsa will keep in the refrigerator for three to five days. 

Produce Tip: Corn 
Don’t shuck the corn or you’ll annoy the farmer! Instead, look for corn with tassels that are brown and sticky. If it’s black, then it’s old. Feel the stalk through the husk for plump, even kernels. 


From-scratch Strawberry Cake

Cake ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberry puree
3/4 cups vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of salt

Frosting ingredients
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar

Fresh Strawberry Puree 
Wash and trim strawberries. Process them in a food processor or blender on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Add a tablespoon of water if needed to help blend. Strain the puree through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth if needed to remove seeds. One pint of strawberries yields approximately 1 1/2 cups of puree. 

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and whisk dry ingredients together.
2. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until smooth. Don’t over mix or the cake can be become dense.
3. Pour the batter into three 6-inch baking rounds and bake for 35 minutes or until they pass the knife test.
4. Let the cakes cool. Whip heavy cream with the sugar until stiff peaks form.
5. Remove the cakes from the pan and layer the cake with frosting. Decorate with additional strawberries.
6. Serve the cake the same day. The cake will need to be stored in the refrigerator if kept overnight. 

Produce Tip: Strawberries
Color is more important than shape. Choose the berries with the deepest red color you can find. Strawberries with white around the tops aren’t quite ripe yet and won’t be as sweet.  


Food & Drink