A few weeks ago A. and I decided we needed a breath of fresh air. Literally. Figuratively. And a few other -lys that we just don’t need to discuss today.
So we saddled up our sturdy sedan and abandoned the Valley of the Sun for a day trip into Arizona’s mountains: specifically, we were headed for the Prescott Farmer’s Market.
At the risk of sounding like a massive science nerd, the vast extremes in Arizona’s climate, topography and ecosystem life never cease to amaze me. When you grow up in and around New England, where it’s possible to drive through multiple states in a few short hours and, visually, not even realize that you’ve made the transition, this new environment feels nothing short of Martian.
I just can’t get past it. And if you’ve ever made the drive from Phoenix up into the northern mountains, you know what I mean.
Climbing from an elevation of approximately 1,100 feet to one of approximately 5,400 feet.
Watching the thermostat drop from 99° to 75°.
Passing armies of saguaro cacti that are slowly subsumed by hoards of pines.
It’s pretty fascinating even if you don’t have a destination that you’re excited about.
But we did! Or at least I did! Because farmer’s markets are kind of my jam. Especially in the fall, when they (ironically) remind me of being back home.
Making your way into Prescott’s Farmer’s Market is the business of fending off the aroma of fresh tamales, fielding affectionate greetings from local canines (some up for adoption through a Prescott-based rescue league), and setting to work deciding which busting booth to hit up first.
Staying right with the theme of Arizona in all its glory, A. made a beeline for the freshly fried samosas. Which meant that curry was the name of the game for the next 30 minutes. I couldn’t exactly complain…
We picked up some Sonoran honey.
We scouted roasted Chino Valley chiles.
We went back for a few more samosas.
And I ended up with my eyes on the largest bunch of green onions that I had ever seen.
You have to know that I am already a huge, huge fan of green onions. I eat them raw, grilled, pickled, sautéed… if I thought that straight from the soil was an option that was available to me it would be happening. Right now.
So I gleefully snatched up that glorious bunch! It was all mine!
The thing about green onions is that they are practically chameleons; they can be sweet, they can be savory, and they can even be smoky depending on how you prepare them. Green onions can be crunchy or they can be tender – the sky is the limit!
You may know traditional Mexican cebollitas as green onions simply lightly charred on the grill. Cebollitas are nothing short of amazing and serve as the perfect accompaniment to just about any meat and meal. But here’s the thing: if you’re able to get your hands on a special, robust bunch of green onions, you’re going to want to make these roasted ‘fries’ instead.
Because the pale bottoms of green onions are firm and fleshy while the green tops are hollow and leaf-like, oiling, salting and roasting the whole onions will yield tender, sweet bulb ends not unlike the pillowy potato center of a French fry. And the leafy tops will crisp up to an herbaceous green crunch. It’s insane. And the aroma throughout your kitchen while your green onions roast isn’t too shabby either (I’m currently in talks with Sephora to bottle this business – prepare to find eau de cebollita in your stocking this Christmas).
And then you take your roasted cebollita ‘fries’ and fold them into rice. Or tuck them into a tortilla. Maybe just eat them straight off the tray. You’re the jefe of these cebollita ‘fries’!
Now you know why farmer’s markets are my jam.
- 2 large bunches green onions, root tips removed (You’ll note that I made my fries with one extremely large bunch of onions – they were so enormous that I had to horizontally halve them just to get them to fit onto my standard half sheet pan! If you’re lucky enough to find a bunch this big at your local farmer’s market, by all means, prepare this recipe with just one. But if you’re working with a standard-sized bunch of green onions, you’ll need two bunches to yield the same finished quantity of ‘fries’.)
- 4 large cloves of garlic
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt, finely ground
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Arrange onions and garlic in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Cover in a light drizzle of olive oil and several pinches of salt. Toss to coat.
- Roast for 20 minutes or until onions are extremely fragrant with their tops slightly charred and shriveled, and their bottoms tender and just starting to turn golden.
- Remove and serve immediately in the manner of your choosing.