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May 19, 2022

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’Tis the season for local greens at restaurants in Clark County

With cold April behind us, farms’ vegetables return to restaurant menus

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River Maiden's Amaze Bowl combines rice, white beans, cilantro garlic sauce, avocado, pickled cabbage, sliced sweet peppers, sweet potato, red pepper pesto and toasted seeds. The bowl also features micro greens from Red Truck Farm.
River Maiden's Amaze Bowl combines rice, white beans, cilantro garlic sauce, avocado, pickled cabbage, sliced sweet peppers, sweet potato, red pepper pesto and toasted seeds. The bowl also features micro greens from Red Truck Farm. (Barbara Paulsen/River Maiden) Photo Gallery

“Sometimes It Snows in April” seemed like just another cryptic Prince song. But then this year, it snowed in April. Despite this odd weather, Clark County farmers harvested a bounty of spring vegetables that can be found on local restaurants’ menus.

Red Truck Farm in Ridgefield delivers lettuce and salad mixes, spinach, arugula, baby kale, carrots, baby dill, radishes, microgreens and fresh herbs to Rally Pizza, Elements, Kafiex Roasters, River Maiden and Slow Fox Chili Parlor.

The unseasonably cold weather didn’t hamper the tender greens at Red Truck Farm because agricultural row cover protects any crop that isn’t in the growing tunnel. The cover lets in light and water and keeps plants a tad warmer. As a result, crops flourished despite the odd weather. Some spinach wasn’t covered, but according to farmer Amber Baker, spinach is super cold hardy.

Kelly Peters and Patrick Dorris of Flat Tack Farm in Brush Prairie are focused on getting ready for their community-supported agriculture program. But in the past couple of weeks, they’ve harvested lots of spring raab (flower shoots from overwintered crops like broccoli, collards, kale, etc.) and green garlic. They sold it to Rally Pizza, Slow Fox Chili Parlor and Elements. In addition, Flat Tack’s chicken and duck eggs found their way to Rally Pizza and Elements. Peters and Dorris expect an abundance of greens in the near future, including arugula, mizuna, kale and lettuce.

Chef Alan Maniscalco of Rally Pizza (8070 E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver; 360-524-9000) uses spinach, radishes and baby dill from Red Truck Farm in his spinach salad. For Rally Pizza’s Mother’s Day menu, available Sunday, Maniscalco will serve spring arancini with English peas, as well as pea shoots from Red Truck Farm. To prepare these crunchy-on-the-outside, gooey-on-the-inside Italian rice balls, the chef cooks a pea and pea shoot risotto and then rolls it into orbs, fries them, and serves them with a spicy garlic tomato sauce and salsa verde.

River Maiden (5301 E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver; 360-694-7500) just added a new lunch menu, available every day from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., that features a bounty of local produce.

“We get lettuces, sprouts, radishes and a big salad mix from Red Truck Farm,” said Melissa Layman, owner of River Maiden. “The big salad mix is a gorgeous variety of lettuces. It’s so good and so fresh. We put it on our sandwiches and our salads. We also use the spicy microgreens mix for our salads, toasts and bowls.”

In addition, Red Truck Farm produce can be found in River Maiden’s breakfast sandwich and avocado toast.

Layman grew up in Yakima, the heart of Pacific Northwest agriculture. She started River Maiden with her partner, Aaron Flies, at the Vancouver Farmers Market. These experiences have led her to value fresh ingredients.

“Anytime we can use local greens, it’s great,” Layman said.


Rachel Pinsky: couveeats@gmail.com

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