Specializing in Pre-Seasonals
Most of the produce you'll find at Atallah's stand at San Francisco's Saturday morning Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market comes from one of their huge hothouses located in Madison, due west of Sacramento in the Sacramento Valley.
Because their produce is grown in hothouses, the Atallahs can bring sweet peppers and tomatoes to the Market as early as April, at least two months before the field-grown versions are ripe. The Atallahs have made pre-season sweet peppers and tomatoes their specialty.
From the Middle East to Madison, CA
Nick and Jane Atallah began their hothouse farming business after Nick left his life-long career as a professor of water engineering. He had taught at the American University in Beirut, Lebanon until the war in 1975 forced them to relocate to Saudi Arabia. The Atallahs stayed there for the next 9 years while Nick served as a water engineer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1984, the Atallahs moved back to the USA and, not ready to retire, Nick decided to apply his water engineering and agriculture background to his own farming business. By 1989, he was in full swing with 10 plastic hothouses, each 30' x 180', and a few acres of open land.
In addition to the Ferry Plaza Market on Saturdays, Jane now covers 6 other markets in Marin, Davis and Sacramento selling their hothouse specialties.
Things You Won't Find Elsewhere at the Market
In addition to early sweet peppers and tomatoes, you'll find 2 specialties at the Atallah's stand that are not available from other growers at the Ferry Plaza Market -- specialty cukes and endive:
Endive is surprisingly versatile -- it can be used raw as a lettuce in salads or cooked as a vegetable. CVS brochure offers 3 good recipes.
June 1997; updated September 2000.
Saturday Market Home Page
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Having Fun with Endive
Stir Fry of Endives
8 endives sliced in 1/2" slices
Heat the butter in a large Teflon-type skillet. Add endives cut into 1/2" slices (discard the core end) and green onions and sauté on high heat for 1 minute.
Add garlic, prawns and cream and cook another 2 minutes or until prawns are cooked, but endive is still a little al dente.
Add peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 30 seconds.
To serve, divide between 4 warm plates and sprinkle with parsley.
Warm Endive and Canadian Bacon Salad
8 endives (4 red and 4 white)
In a skillet, over medium high heat, sauté the shallots (or onion) with 1 TBS oil. Cook for 1 minute then add diced Canadian bacon (or pancetta)
When the shallots are soft, deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Add the rest of the oil and season.
Cut endives into 1/2" slices and dice the zucchini. Mix them together and pour the dressing over them. Toss and check the seasoning.
Note: This salad is particularly delicious with deep fried wonton skins that you sprinkle with a little mild chili powder after deep frying.
Quick and Light Belgian Endive and Chicken Salad
Emulsify all the ingredients together in a blender at high speed for one minute. Strain and correct the seasoning.
Cut 1/2" off the root of the endives. Separate the leaves and place them like spokes of a wheel on 4 dinner plates.
Slice the chicken breasts on a slant in 1/4" slices.* Sauté meat on high heat in a skillet with 2 TBS peanut oil. Cook until no longer pink inside.
Divide slices between plates, placing the cooked chicken in the center.
Sprinkle with walnuts and drizzle dressing over the entire salad. Serve immediately.
* Recipe can be prepared one day ahead up to this point. Keep all ingredients covered and refrigerated.