Organic produce makes us giddy. As do farmer’s markets…and when the two mingle we can barely contain ourselves!
The Oranjezicht City Farmer’s Market happens every Saturday, on a sprawling lawn with Table Mountain as its backdrop. It began as a simple affair: a way for the farm nestled high up in the City Bowl to showcase its fare to city slickers and the like. A year or so later and it is a mecca for farm-fresh foodies, donning their sun hats with shopping baskets in hand.
We like to arrive early, before the ringing of the brass bell. Perched on two little haystacks we watch the hustle and bustle as the vendors unpack: the bespectacled granadilla farmer with his pinstripes and braces, or the couple from the Karoo with their gold foil trays of dates piled high…a storybook setting if ever there was one.
With food at its epicenter, the market is a welcome alternative to supermarket shopping. Having left till slips and plastic packets far behind, spirits are up and market-goers happily bump elbows to this Saturday soundtrack. Organic gardening and the revival of public green spaces are wonderful initiatives and deserve all this attention and more. We can think of no better way to communicate the benefits of urban farming than with crates of ruby red pomegranates and wicker baskets of crisp greens.
There are wonderful food stalls thrown into the mix too but it is the fruit and veg, and their infinite potential, that most excites us. Autumn quinces may inspire a new marmalade while black cherry tomatoes later find their way into our spaghetti arrabbiata. For us, the ultimate market-inspired creation is an mélange of all that is on offer.
This week brought with it root vegetables galore: beetroot has superfood status, with plenty of potassium and positively-charged betain. It is said to have anti-cancerous properties too. The red onion’s ferocity of taste is directly linked to the amount of goodness this root does for you. Like the beetroot, it is cancer fighting and does its best to look after our blood. Finally the carrot, a cleansing root, promotes healthier skin with its high levels of vitamin A…a simple rustic roast fits the bill perfectly.
Roast veg with a caper vinaigrette
Any combination of your favourite root varieties works wonderfully. Depending on your mix some vegetables will have longer roasting times – do keep this in mind.
4 medium red onions
350g / 12oz baby carrots
350g / 12oz candied beetroot
2 fennel bulbs
200g / 7oz green beans
4 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
30 cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup / 120ml olive oil
Kosher sea salt and black pepper
for the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons baby capers, or larger ones chopped
½ tablespoon wholegrain mustard
½ tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 180˚C / 350 F. Top and tail the onions, peel and cut each into six wedges. Halve the beetroot, trim the beans and carrots, and slice the fennel into thirds. In a large mixing bowl toss together all the vegetables (but not the tomatoes) together with the olive oil. Add the thyme, rosemary, garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Spread out evenly on a large tray and roast for 20-50 minutes, until cooked through and turning golden. Mix in the tomatoes and roast for a further 10 minutes.
For the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, mustard, capers and half a teaspoon of salt. Pour over the roasted vegetables the moment they come out the oven. Mix, taste and adjust the seasoning. Scatter the sesame seeds and serve straight from the tray.
A twist on Yottam Ottolenghi’s Plenty dish