Local farmers put a twist on the traditional spring meal
The Easter plate should speak of spring, with fresh colors, bright flavors and a sense of newness. The traditional: ham or lamb, with a fresh spring salad and a plate of deviled eggs on the side.
Put a twist on the meal this year with selections from Island farms:
Blue Lotus Eggs
It is Easter, so a word about eggs is in order. Of course you can buy yours at Safeway (they’ll probably be 2-for-1!), but for something special, check out Greg Yee’s ultra-fresh eggs from the free-range chickens he raises in Hauula.
His brown and white eggs sell for $8 per dozen at the KCC farmers’ market, but they sell out quickly.
Now, these eggs would be wasted as hard-boiled. If you’re going to go through the trouble of seeking them out, you’ll want to show them off – sunny-side up with some fresh-baked bread. Older eggs are actually better for hard-boiling as the shells peel more easily.
North Shore Asparagus
In Waialua on Oahu’s North Shore, on what used to be sugar land, Milton Agader is growing asparagus that’s so crisp, fresh and tender, you can eat it raw. He started in 1998 with an experimental crop on a half-acre of land. Now he’s farming 65 acres of asparagus and harvesting 200 pounds each day.
Asparagus begins life as a wispy, billowy fern that reaches maturity in just over a year. The ferns are then mowed down and mulched into the ground. In a week, shoots start coming out – and they grow and grow and grow. A spear might be just an inch out of the ground one day, and by the next it will be a foot long and ready to harvest.
Bring asparagus to the table lightly steamed or braised in a small amount of liquid. You also can grill whole spears brushed with a bit of olive oil. And if you’re in a hurry, simply pop them in the microwave with a little water – three minutes should do it for these tender spears.
Sold under the name Twin Bridges Farms, Waialua asparagus is available at Whole Foods, Foodland stores and at farmers’ markets at KCC, Waialua and Haleiwa.
Several varieties of Jeanne Vana’s heirloom beans seem designed for Easter. The pink Mayflower bean, the pink and green Borlotti, the Tiger’s Eye with orange stripes – their pretty pastels mimic the colors we use to color Easter eggs.
Vana, best known for the Big Wave Tomatoes she grows and markets under the North Shore Farms label, has been growing the beans for about a year, trying out different varieties to find the ones that yield well and hold their colors best when cooked.
She lets the beans dry naturally in their pods on the vine, a 60- to 100-day process. The beans should be soaked and then simmered until tender. For Easter, make them the showcase in a bean salad, add them to a soup or stew dish, or mash them into potatoes.
The beans are available only at the Saturday farmers’ market at Kapiolani Community College for $10 per pound.
The usual commercial method for producing veal is to raise a calf to about 6 months of age in a crate where its movements are limited. The animal is fed a milk replacement, which, along with the lack of exercise, produces a tender, white meat often called milk-fed veal. This makes it a premium product that brings on the guilt.
But farmers on the Big Island are producing veal in a manner that addresses concerns about animal cruelty. Their calves are pasture-raised alongside their mothers. The veal meat takes on a pink color, from the grass that the calf eats along with its mother’s milk. It’s known in the industry as “red veal.”
Local chefs have embraced the new veal in forms from chops to burgers. Availability is limited by the six-month growing cycle of the calves, but in early spring, stew meat, scallopini (thin oblong slices) and ground meat should still be at hand.
Find the veal at the KCC farmers’ market, R. Field stores inside Foodland’s Kailua and Beretania stores, and at Foodland Aina Haina.