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Last Saturday was the 2011 season opener at the Capital City Farmer’s Market in downtown Boise. It was good to see several familiar vendors, like the man from the Almond Tree, whose reliable presence and stoic stance make him a familiar fixture. Susan and I always swing past his table for a sample, and he often greets us by wryly commenting, “These aren’t very good, you know.” His crunchy, candied almonds top my first salad of spring.

This year Susan and I have a mission. We’ll shop the farmer’s market on Saturday, purchase the same foods, then compare what each of us does with the ingredients. This week we selected fresh beet greens, candied almonds, organic leeks, wedges of Petite Basque (an aged sheep’s milk cheese), and the “Southern” dried seasoning blend from Molly’s Mills.

I opted to create the obvious: Soothing bowls of leek-miso soup to counteract chilly springtime breezes, and a tender beet green salad with a simple dressing made using freshly squeezed orange juice and tangy orange zest. The following recipes will make two salads and two small bowls of soup. Add a loaf of crusty bread (fresh from the market, of course) to round out the meal.

Organic leeks

2 small leeks, split lengthwise, rinsed and cut into ¼ inch slices

1 TBL butter

1 ½ cups water

2 TBL white miso

Dash of salt

Melt butter in medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Pour water into pan. Add miso. Heat until almost simmering. Do not boil. Maintain gentle heat and allow to steep while preparing the salad. Before serving, season to taste with a dash or two of salt.

Beet green salad:

1 bunch beet greens

1 Fuji apple, cored and diced

1 small wedge Petite Basque cheese, cut into small dice.

A handful or two of candied almonds

Wash and tear beet greens. Divide between two salad bowls. Top each with half the diced apple, half the cheese, and a handful of almonds.

Leek-miso soup and beet green salad

1 large orange

About ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ tsp Molly’s Mills “Southern” seasoning (smoked garlic, dried lime, sea salt, rainbow pepper)

Using a microplane grater, zest half the orange. Place zest in a glass one-cup measure. Juice the orange; pour into one-cup measure with zest. Measure juice, then add half the amount of olive oil (you should have 2 parts orange juice, 1 part olive oil). Add Southern seasoning. Adjust taste. Pour over salad.