Greenmarkets in Westchester

Greenmarkets are the greatest addition to the fresh food scene since the invention of the refrigerated produce case. Where else can you help stimulate the local economy, minimize your carbon footprint, support small, artisan farmers and producers, live up to the “locavore” label, get inspired by the bounty laid out before you, and eat the freshest ingredients available?

When I go to our Pleasantville Greenmarket on summer Saturday mornings, I get motivated by the variety and abundance on display before me. My creative juices begin to flow looking at and tasting the season’s bounty of the Hudson. When I tell the customers at my restaurant, Iron Horse Grill, that the lettuce in their salad, the squash in their soup, the chèvre in their ravioli, or the apples in their dessert come from the greenmarket that is held in our “backyard” (the Memorial Plaza municipal lot directly behind the restaurant), they invariably order those dishes. It seems as if everyone wants to get on the “eat local” bandwagon.

While our greenmarket is by no means the largest in the county, it still has a great variety of farmers and producers. We have two farmstead cheese producers (farmstead means that they control the entire process from the birth of the animals, through the milking, and cheese- making), a fishmonger, four farmers (one of them organic), a flower stall, four bakers, a pickle maker, a winery, natural soaps and cosmetics, prepared foods, plants, and a butcher. Upwards of 800 people visit the greenmarket on any given Saturday to purchase raw materials for the larder. They get to talk directly to the producers, swap recipes with other shoppers, and discuss the best uses for the array of raw materials laid before them.

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If you can’t make it to the Pleasantville Market, there are a number of other ones throughout Westchester. Just visit for more information.

Another way that you can get in on the local food action is to join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farm. You pay the CSA up front for a weekly share of what they produce. This literal seed money is used to help the farmers purchase supplies and equipment so that they can grow the food and deliver it weekly to a pick-up site. You usually volunteer once or twice a season to man the pick-up site or visit the farm and work one day a season. Your produce grab bag of what is currently ripe and ready is usually enough to provide a level of variety to your family’s menu planning.

A few of the farms give tours and cooking classes. Rainbeau Ridge Farm in Bedford Hills and Bobolink Farm in Warwick, New York, are two that come to mind. Lisa Schwartz at Rainbeau Ridge is dedicated to making goat cheese as well as fresh eggs and vegetables and Nina and Jonathan White are into cows’-milk cheeses, as well as breads and meats. They will both be at the Pleasantville Farmers’ market this year.

If we can support our local farmers, producers, and wineries, we can assure the survival of the sustainable farmer and keep our greenmarkets full of the best that the Hudson Valley has to offer.

The following recipe was inspired by what I have found at the Pleasantville Farmers’ Market.

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(makes 12 blossoms)
These zucchini blossoms can be served as hors d’oeuvres or as a first course. When we serve them as a first course, we present them on a warm salad of diced zucchini sautéed with a little garlic and “popped” cherry tomatoes.

8 oz goat cheese
2 Tbsp toasted pine nuts
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
Coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
12 zucchini blossoms
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 eggs, separated
1 cup beer or club soda
Flour, sifted for dredging
4 cups vegetable oil

Combine the cheese, nuts, basil, and season with the salt and pepper. Blend well. Gently open the petals of the flowers and place a teaspoon of the mixture inside of each. Fold the petals back over the cheese to encapsulate it and chill well.
Sift together the flour, powder, and salt. Beat the yolks with the beer and whisk in the flour mixture. Whip the whites and fold in. Heat the oil over moderate heat to 375 º F degrees. Working with four blossoms at a time, lightly dredge the blossoms in the flour, shaking off the excess. Dip in the batter to lightly coat, and fry, turning occasionally until golden, about 2 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels, season with a little salt and fresh pepper, and serve.

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