Viva el Tomatillo!

The tomatillo, a tasty little garden fruit, is an oft-overlooked treasure at the table. Most people who are familiar with the tomatillo think about it only in terms of salsa verde. Tomatillos range in size from purple ones the size of a cherry tomato to green ones the size of a golf ball. While the tomatillo does indeed give the popular Mexican salsa its unique flavor, there are a wide variety of dishes to which the tomatillo lends itself well. The citrusy and tart tomatillo goes by many names. It is also known as the husk tomato, Mexican groundcherry, or large-flowered tomatillo. In Spanish, it is known most as tomate verde, or green tomato. It turns out, that the tomatillo is not a tomato at all.  It is a member of the nightshade family that is closest to the cape gooseberry.

The possibilities for this parchment-encased treat are nearly endless and go way beyond a mere dip. It ups the game as part of many salads, soups, sauces, sandwiches and even cocktails! First, though, you should know how to select the perfect husk tomato. The tomatillo is at its peak ripeness when it has filled out its papery husk.  Generally, the smaller the fruit, the sweeter it is. The husk should be brightly colored and a bit sticky to touch.  Pass on those with a dry or dull husk. Next, peek inside. The flesh of the fruit should be firm and bright green.  This ancient fruit, known to the Aztecs as milomate, should not be stored in an airtight environment unless husked, washed and frozen.  Fresh tomatillos should be left on the counter or in a hanging fruit basket.

Now that you know how to choose the perfect “little tomato that’s not really a tomato,” head over to The Pearl Market and get yours from City Meadows Market Garden, one of our new vendors.  Christine and Sean would love to load you up on this healthy and fun fruit.  Next, visit Happy Hogs Premium Pork, another new vendor, for a fresh, locally-raised pork tenderloin. Then you have the beginnings of a delicious Pork Tenderloin in Tangy Tomatillo Sauce.  The full recipe for this soon-to-be-favorite is below.  If you’re feeling especially festive, grab some extra tomatillos for the perfect Tomatillo Margarita or Bloody Mary.

Pork Tenderloin in Tomatillo Sauce (recipe courtesy of www.thekitchn.com)

Serves 4 to 6

For the tomatillo sauce:

2 pounds tomatillos, husks removed
2 large jalapenos
1 large onion, cut into wedges
6 to 8 large cloves garlic, peeled
Handful of cilantro stems, leaves attached
Juice from 1 lime
Kosher salt

For the pork:

Bacon grease, lard, or vegetable oil, for browning
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into cubes
1/4 cup Mexican-style beer
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

 

To serve:

Small corn or flour tortillas
Cooked rice
Cooked beans
Chopped cilantro
Lime wedges

 

For the tomatillo sauce, place an oven rack a few inches from the broiler. Place tomatillos, jalapenos, onion wedges, and garlic on a roasting pan and broil for 5-6 minutes until starting to char. Flip all the ingredients to the other side and broil for another 5-6 minutes, until tomatillos are soft and blackened.

Allow the vegetables to cool for about 20 minutes. Split the jalapenos in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. (If a hotter sauce is desired, reserve some of the seeds to add to the blender.) Transfer the roasted vegetables and their juices to a blender. Blend until the ingredients are pureed but still a little chunky. Add the cilantro, lime juice, and a generous pinch of salt and pulse a few more times. (The sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance.)

For the pork, heat a few tablespoons bacon grease (or oil) in a large Dutch oven or braising dish over medium-high heat until sizzling.

Meanwhile, combine the flour, salt, and cumin in a large mixing bowl. Add the pork cubes and gently toss to coat. Working in batches, add the pork to the hot grease and cook until browned, about 1 – 2 minutes per side. Remove with a slotted spoon, set aside, and continue with the remaining pork.

Pour the beer into the hot skillet to de-glaze the pan and scrape up any leftover browned bits as the beer bubbles. Return the browned pork cubes to the skillet along with tomatillo sauce. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil; reduce heat and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes to allow flavors to marry. (This dish only gets better with time, so feel free to make a day or two in advance. When reheating, add a glug of chicken stock or water to thin if necessary.)

Serve with warmed tortillas, rice, beans, cilantro, and lime wedges.

 

Produce Perks: Increasing Access to Fresh & Healthy Foods

Everyone knows that The Pearl Market is the place to go for fresh and local produce, meat and other food items.  What you may not know is that the market proudly participates in a unique and highly effective program aimed at helping those in need to eat healthy, fresh and local.  In partnership with Wholesome Wave, the market operates the Produce Perks program. The program incentivizes customers receiving SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) by matching their food purchases dollar for dollar up to $20 using special tokens to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, plants and seeds.

“This program is a win-win-win.  Customers struggling to afford food are able to double their purchase power, the farmers and food merchants gain access to new customers, and both make the market stronger,” says Dustin Speakman, manager of The Pearl Market.

Between 2015 and 2017, The Pearl Market distributed nearly $11,000 in SNAP benefits and over $5,500 in Produce Perks incentives.

“I came to the market from the nonprofit hunger-relief world, so knowing that the work I do here is still benefiting people in need means a lot.  I have three small boys and know that eating healthy is not cheap. This program goes a long way to make eating fresh and healthy within reach for those in need.”

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Summer: The Fresh Season

Summer is the perfect season to eat fresh and healthy. The heat and busyness of summer make it easy to eat light and skip the oven with cool selections like fresh garden salads, cold soups and super easy sandwiches like the simple but satisfying Caprese Sandwich created by Graze Café. This fast-and-fresh sandwich was featured at our first cooking demonstration on June 29. Check out our video recipe:

Cooking demonstrations take place the last Friday of each month, so mark your calendars for July 27, August 31, and September 28. To find out when your favorite fruits and veggies are ready to enjoy, click here.

Spotlight on the Sponsor

Located downtown in the Ohio Statehouse, Graze’s quick-service café features chef-driven, Midwest-inspired dishes using fresh, seasonal produce, as well as local meat and dairy. Our team is passionate about developing relationships with farmers and vendors all over Ohio, and we strive to use as much local product as we can in both our café and catering operations.

We believe our unique partnership with The Pearl Market will solidify these relationships while strengthening our downtown presence and visibility. Our goal of the monthly Pearl Market cooking demonstrations is to help promote awareness and education to those consumers who may be intimidated or unsure of how to incorporate fresh foods into their diet. Our chefs will prepare simple, easy-to-follow recipes that consumers will be able to re-create at home using local produce available at the market.

 

The Pearl Market is proud serve as the regional coordinator for Produce Perks , which allows shoppers using SNAP benefits to double their buying power. The program was featured in a WBNS-TV story at the Pearl Market. Click here to view the story.  Stop by the Pearl Market tent for more information on Produce Perks.

Bakery Bonanza

The Pearl Market is chock full of the most delicious baked goods. Whether you’re looking for cookies, cakes, gluten-free goodies, or just a loaf of artisan-made bread, these vendors have it!

8 Sisters Bakery

Aunt Vickie’s Pies

Food for Good Thought

Great Harvest Bread Co.

Hearth Bakery

Mary’s Catering

Nova Terra Farm

Omega Buns

Solo Merengues

Stand by Faith

Sweet Cheese

Tupelo Doughnuts

Yvonne’s Cookies

 

Check back often for news, recipes and more!

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This Week in the Market

Asparagus is a perennial native the world ‘round.

From South Africa and Siberia to the U.S. and Spain, this versatile veggie is prized not only for its gastronomic pleasures, but also its homeopathic properties. In ancient Egypt and Rome the plant, also known as Sparrow Grass, was used for everything from a diuretic to an aphrodisiac. It was so valued, in fact, that Roman Emperor Augustus created the “Asparagus Fleet” for the sole purpose of transporting the plant. He is also credited with the first use of the phrase “faster than cooking asparagus.” The infamous Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV of France, was particularly fond of the delicate tips of the asparagus, calling them “points d’amour,” or love tips.

Asparagus is so versatile that it can be steamed, simmered, roasted, battered, grilled, sautéed or wok-fried. It can even be sliced thinly and added to a salad. For the best ways to prepare your “sparrow grass,” click here for a guide to preparation by David Tanis and published in the New York Times. You should also click here for a fantastic recipe for Spanish Asparagus Revuelto.  Enjoy!

New “Home” on the Web

In addition to our move to the Ohio Statehouse, we also have a new website.  Visit www.pearlmarket.org for a list of vendors and their products, a map of the market, and news and recipes.

Spotlight on the Sponsor

We are super excited about our move to the Ohio Statehouse.  We couldn’t ask for a better partner than the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB), the entity that oversees the Statehouse buildings and grounds.  CSRAB is also charged with preserving the history of our unique Capitol Square and maintaining the memorials and artistic installations.

“The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) is excited to host the 26th season of Pearl Market on Capitol Square,” says Laura Battocletti, Executive Director of CSRAB.

“Visitors to Pearl Market this year will in a way be going back in time. The public square or market square is a fundamental part of the American experience. In the 19th century, citizens would gather on the square to exchange news, buy goods and sell their produce; the square was the center of civic life in the community. In 2018 visitors to Pearl Market will once again be able to participate in the oldest of community events right here on Capitol Square. Welcome to the Statehouse, Pearl Market!”

Get Your Nosh on at the Market

Shopping the market is made more convenient by the inclusion of your favorite food trucks.  This year The Pearl Market is proud to partner with the following mobile meal providers:

OH! Burgers

Burgers made with Ohio-raised, grass-fed beef, OH! Chips, and more!

Paddy Wagon

Delicious brisket, tacos, and grilled cheese made from 100% locally-sourced ingredients!

Pitabilities

Famously fresh, made-to-order pitas, fries, salads, and desserts!

Tortilla Street Food

Burritos, tacos, nachos, salads, quesadillas!  Mexican street food on the go!

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Welcome to The Pearl Market at the Statehouse!

The Pearl Market is thriving as it opens its 26th season on Friday, May 25. The market is moving to the historic Ohio Statehouse temporarily during the Rhodes State Office Tower renovation. All season long, you’ll find local foods and handcrafted items downtown on the north plaza of Statehouse. The market runs Tuesdays and Fridays from 10:30 am – 2:00 pm through October 12.

Look to our farmers for produce ranging from berries and asparagus early in the season to corn and apples later. Visit our merchants for baked goods like doughnuts, brownies, cookies, pies and bread. Pick up jewelry, clothing and handmade items from one of our artisans. Grab a cup of coffee or lunch from one of our food trucks. And don’t forget Fido! You can find homemade dog treats at Pearl Market, too.

“We have a great season in store,” said Market Manager Dustin Speakman. “Pearl Market has doubled the number of farmers, offering twice the amount of fresh produce. In addition, shoppers will find delicious cooking demonstrations from Graze using fresh local ingredients as well as simple, tasty recipes you can prepare at home.”

 

Get prepared for the 2018 Pearl Market

This week, you can grab one of our new market bags by stopping either Credit Union of Ohio at 152 E. Broad St., or Heartland Bank at 101 S. High St. These market sponsors will give out bags until supplies run out.

If you don’t get there this week, you can always check with farmers at the market, who will be distributing the bags to customers. You’ll love this year’s fun and whimsical bag design promoting our new location to the Ohio Statehouse.

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