When British Columbia tomatoes are in season I eat them every day, in salads, cooked and raw, in dressings and sauces and stuffed into jars to preserve for the next 11 months. The Vancouver Farmers Markets are in full bloom all over the city and the benefit of 2015’s unprecedented dry heat is incredibly sweet, tender and delicious varieties of tomatoes.
This past Thursday, in the almost surreptitious location of the Yaletown Farmers Market (Mainland/Davie), I came upon on small yet robust gathering of some of the best farms, and culinary artisans in BC. It may be one of the smallest markets, but its neighbourhood focal point make it a convenient downtown stop for vegetables, bread, cheese, craft beer and spirits.
One of the vendors, Klippers Organics, boasts an impressive 40 acre farm in the stunning Similkameen Valley. This husband and wife team of Kevin and Annamarie Klippenstein manages a bounty of produce, nuts and fruit available at virtually every farmers market happening in the city throughout the annual season.
This week, I was inspired to create a raw, crunchy salad, showcasing four fresh bean varieties and tomatoes finished with a hot and spicy dressing using elephant heart plums and sticky, fresh garlic. Experiment with different varieties of tomatoes – they all have unique flavour characteristics and textures and are only around until the first frost so enjoy them as often as possible!
Klippers has teamed up with some of Vancouver’s best chefs to present a Long Table Series of farm dinners hosted on their property near Cawston. Their dinners are a great way to have an adventure outside the city, and dine in the heart of our BC greenbelt; you can even stay the night. Burdock & Co, Farmer’s Apprentice, Acorn, and Fable all have dinners in the next two months. More info, tickets and accommodations can be found online.
Summer bean salad with plum and garlic vinaigrette
By Chef Jonathan Chovancek, Bittered Sling
- 4 small red or elephant heart plums
- 1 kg mixed green, yellow, scarlet runner and dragon beans
- 500g mixed indigo rose, sun gold and vintage wine tomatoes, or whatever looks good
- 6 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 6 tbsp cold pressed sunflower oil
- 4 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, sliced
- sliced chilies to taste
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- garnish with mint tops
In a small sauce pot combine the honey, water, vinegar and garlic and bring to a simmer. Add thick slices of the plums and poach gently so they release their juices but retain their structure. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and add the sunflower oil. Reserve.
Slice the beans in half lengthways and toss with a little salt. Slice the tomatoes and compose them on a platter with the tomatoes. Crush the little cherry ones with your thumb so the seeds burst across the beans. Dress the platter with the poached plums and vinaigrette. Finish with mint or basil and enjoy outside.
Jonathan Chovancek is the executive chef at Vancouver breakfast, lunch and brunch institution Café Medina as well as the co-proprietor of Bittered Sling Bitters, a retail line of small-batch, artisanal cocktail and culinary bitters. A celebrated chef and avowed champion of the Slow Food movement, Jonathan’s more than 20-year career has included stints at some of Canada’s most acclaimed establishments.