Sunday, June 17, 2012

Volunteering at the Market and Spinach Salad

This is my last semester of classes before I finish my Masters degree.  While I still have a practicum to finish and thesis to write I am beginning to feel like I am close to the end.  In honor of this ending, I wanted to really celebrate the student life this summer, by this I mean not working full time.  One of the many activities I have scheduled is volunteering at the farmer's market for a small certified organic farm called Klippers Organic Acres!

I am planning to profile the lovely couple that runs the farm in a later post, however, until then I am continuing my farmer's market series by describing my volunteer experience.  The program is simple: Come to the market super early in the morning, help them set up all the produce, and then keep it stocked during the day, while chit-chatting with market-goers.  Then, at the end of the day, you fill up your bags with certified organic produce.  Sounds good to me!

I have volunteered twice now and I absolutely love it!  I am a chit-chatterer and I seem to run into about a dozen people I know at the market and it is lovely catching up.  The owners are really relaxed and give all of the volunteers time to wander off to check out the other vendors.  I am sold.  Check out the website and email Kevin and Anna-Marie if you are interested in helping them out at the markets.

So to celebrate my second week of volunteering I am using the delicious, crunchy spinach as inspiration for a delicious spring salad.

  • Certified organic spinach - two cups
  • Olive oil - two teaspoons
  • White wine vinegar - one teaspoon
  • Orange zest - one orange
  • Orange segments
  • Avocado - half and avocado, cubed
  • Sea Salt - to taste
  • Parsley - just a sprig or two
  • Walnuts - chopped roughly

1) Rinse the spinach (or not if you like the extra minerals that the dirt brings) and chop it finely.  I like my greens chopped finely.  If I don't do this I get oil all over my face.  In fact, I've always wondered how other people eat salad and don't get oil all over their faces???  Seriously it mystifies me.

2) To make as little mess as possible I pour the oil and vinegar in the bottom of the bowl I'm using to serve the salad.   The oil is Palestinian from a company called Zatoun.  I heard about Zatoun when I attended a lecture on the Israeli occupation of Palestine.  The olive oil is fair trade and some of the money goes to replanting the olive trees that are being destroyed by the occupation.

3) I like to grate the orange peel straight into the bowl using the small setting.  Looking at the picture below, you can see the spray of orange essence on the gray of the bowl.  If you grate the orange peel onto a cutting board or into a bowl then you lose all of this loveliness.  Don't lose the loveliness.

4) At this point throw the spinach leaves into the bowl and toss, toss, toss.  I like to dress the greens without the rest of the salad for two reasons.  First, it is nice to pile the "meat" of the salad on top - it looks really pretty.  Second, you don't want to mush the avocado or crush the orange pieces.  They will migrate into the rest of the salad as you serve it.

5) To segment the oranges, first cut the top and bottom off so that it sits on the cutting board without rolling around.

6) Then cut the peel off deeply enough so that the inner flesh of the orange is exposed.  Don't compost the outer orange peel until you have squeezed the juice into the tossed salad.

 7) Using a knife, cut the segments out leaving the membrane behind.  You will end up with gorgeous segments of orange with no peel or membrane.  For my salad, I like to cut each segment up into three pieces for ease of eating.  You don't have to.

Again, squeeze the orange membrane onto the spinach salad to get all that delicious juice.

Arrange the segments onto the top of the salad with the cubes of avocado.

8) Run out to your garden or reach up to your window sill and pick a few nice pieces of parsley.  Place them on top of the salad.

At this point you can add the chopped walnuts and a twist of black pepper.

I love the slight bitterness of the walnuts against the fattiness of the avocado and the bright juiciness of the orange with the crunchiness of the spinach.

If you have time to stop by the Trout Lake farmer’s market, make sure you take a swagger by the Klipper’s booth and chit-chat with me!

Now on to the most important question: What am I going to make the next time I volunteer?  Check back to find out!


Shonagh writes An Offal Experiment - exploring the guts of food


  1. I worked at a Farmers Market a while back, helping out a friend. I love doing something I believe in (food!!!), talking to the regulars, and trading food with the other vendors.