One way that you can ensure that you never pay full price, is to buy fruit and vegetables that have been marked down. I’m not talking about sad, limp lettuce either – perfectly good food that is marked down to sell so that it won’t be thrown out.
It is Sunday afternoon, just after 4.00pm, and I’m at Tom’s Superfruits Superstore at the Belconnen Markets. I like the selection of produce here – there is much more on offer than at my supermarket and the quality is exceptional. On late Sunday afternoons, the store takes on an almost carnival atmosphere. The car park is full, and there are people everywhere. This is the time to come to grab a bargain.
Most of the produce is trucked in fresh from Sydney. The markets are only open from Thursday to Sunday, and so on Sunday, the stalls need to close up shop. Tom’s Superfruits Superstore has a strong commitment to reducing waste. So it offers products for sale at reduced prices, and anything remaining after that is donated to charity.
Being the end of the day – indeed, the end of the shopping week – you never know what you are going to get. If you want to cook something specific you need to come early, but foraging is half of the fun for bargain hunters like me. A young, friendly guy called Sam was standing out the front spruiking the items on special, in a melodic, loud sing-song voice. It reminded me so much of going to the South Melbourne and Victoria markets as a young child, watching the Italian and Greek fruit and vegetable vendors vie for customers. It is, I guess, a tradition of fruit and vegetable hawkers that goes back many hundreds of years, part of the whole vibe of buying from a stall at a market rather than under the fluorescent lights of a supermarket.
As we watched, trolleys filled with fresh green vegetables and fruit were wheeled out to the specials table at the front of the store. Most of it was sold at a discount of only $1, and many of the packages were snatched by eager shoppers before they even hit the trestle table. I was tempted to buy a lot, but my lovely Neil reminded me that buying more than we need is just plain greedy.
All of this was on sale for only $1 as part of Sunday afternoon clearance at Tom’s Superfruits Superstore
So this is what ended up in our basket:
- A bag of onions (not on special)- $2.98
- Asiatic lilies -$5
- Kale – $1
- Silverbeet – $1
- Butter lettuce – $1
- Bok choy – $1
- Rhubarb – $1
- The Canberra Times – Tom’s Superfruit gives a copy with any purchase over $5
Not bad for an afternoon of shopping!
I wanted to make something special to use up my wonderful fresh bargains, and I wanted to cook it up straight away. I was thinking of making something with kale, but I didn’t know what. So I rang my mother.
“Kale is ever so good for you,” she said. “But I must be honest and say that I don’t like it very much.”
Then I asked Neil. “I can’t say I have ever eaten kale,” he said. “Isn’t it some hipster thing?” (Note: he didn’t look too thrilled at the prospect of a meal of kale.)
This made me even more determined to cook the kale for dinner, and to make it taste delizioso. I must have succeeded because Neil ate up all of his greens BEFORE he ate anything else on his plate. He then demolished the rest of the kale for lunch the next day.
“That was quite nice,” he declared. (I was hoping for something more emphatic but I’ll run with that.)
And I must say, I enjoyed eating the kale as well. The agrodolce (sweet and sour) Sicilian style flavours melded beautifully with the fresh kale leaves. Don’t tell them it is healthy and they will eat it all up! Buying quality produce also helps.
Lemon and olive chicken casserole with kale agrodolce
6 chicken drumsticks
6 garlic cloves
Slurp of olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
2/3 cup of passta
Rind of half a lemon
1 chilli, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 bunch kale, washed and cut into pieces
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 generous tablespoon currants
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 packet short pasta for serving
- In a large cast iron saucepan, brown the chicken drumsticks in olive oil. Add the olive cloves. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the chicken is cooked through and is beginning to fall off the bone.
- Meanwhile, wash the kale (I often add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda to the rinsing water as it helps to make green vegetables stay greener). Place aside until ready to use.
- Combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar, and add in the currants. Soak them for a bit to allow them to plump up.
- In a cast iron fry pan, brown the pine nuts over a medium heat. Watch them closely as they can burn if unattended. Remove.
- Brown the garlic in the olive oil, and immediately add the kale. Stir it as it cooks, and it will gradually wilt. Once it has reduced to around half its size, add the balsamic/sugar/currant mixture and stir through. Continue stirring, and add half of the pine nuts. When the kale has fully wilted, serve and top with additional pine nuts.
- Serve the casserole spooned over short pasta, with some kale on the side.