This is a story about how my love-hate relationship with Cyprus vetch (“louvana”) ended. This last Saturday, I woke up early, and set off to the country’s capital – Nicosia – in search of the country’s largest farmers’ market and to meet my wonderful friend Marilou.
Every Wednesday and Saturday, Nicosia has a chaotic farmers’ market. It used to take place in the middle of the old town, but has moved temporarily to a large parking lot, walking distance from Ledra Street.
A lot of people in Cyprus don’t visit the farmers’ markets. I think more people should go, but I will spare you my rant. I am writing a post about a guide to the farmers’ markets.
One thing I will say here is that despite the utter chaos and very rustic surroundings where the farmers’ markets take place, the fresh produce is just so much better than what we buy in the stores.
I didn’t believe it at first, but you will once you taste the produce, I promise.
It was a gorgeous day, it easily felt like a warm May day, and we happily shed our layers and explored the market and the town. That’s one of the nice things about visiting the Nicosia farmers’ market, you can make a lovely day of it.
We stopped by a lovely clothing boutique called “Carpe Diem“. I picked up a very pretty ring and could have easily bought many more things if it wasn’t for us leaving to go for coffee (another favourite hobby of mine). We sat in a coffee shop nearby – whose name I do not know – but which had some of the best light I had seen in Cyprus. I would love to own a coffee shop like that.
And, of course, we picked up heaps of fresh groceries and I also bought some spring flowers.
One thing I picked up was a lovely bunch of Cyprus vetch (“louvana”). Cyprus vetch is a bitter green. I have a love-hate relationship with it. If that is possible to have with food. I love the idea of it, but have hated the way it is traditionally prepared in Cyprus (with wine vinegar). It always leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth – literally.
But I recently stumbled across Aran Goyoaga’s (of Cannelle et Vanille) recipe for Salad of Bitter Greens, Lentils, Beets, Prosciutto and Blue and thought that the sweet vinaigrette dressing would compliment the bitterness of “louvana” perfectly. And it did.
And so thank you Aran Goyoaga and your wonderful sweet vinaigrette. It has changed my relationship with “louvana” for ever.
For those in Cyprus, if you are ever interested in learning how to forage for”louvana”, let me know as I can probably arrange for something.
Recipe adapted (very, very slightly) from Aran Goyoaga’s of Cannelle et Vanille recipe for Salad of Bitter Greens, Lentils, Beets, Prosciutto and Blue. If you haven’t ever visited her website, I would really recommend it. Beauty and a certain peacefulness radiates from every edible page. She is an incredible photographer and cook, and I simply adore her work.
5 yellow cherry tomatoes (halved)
1/2 cup small green lentils, rinsed
1 cup Cyprus vetch (“louvana”) (I used a combination of the delicate tops and some large leaves. The large leaves are more bitter than the delicate tops).
1/4 cup fresh sweet peas
1 slice prosciutto (optional)
1 tbs crumbled blue cheese
1/2 granny smith apple, cored and finely diced
1/2 shallot, finely minced
1 tsp coarse mustard
1 tsp maple syrup
1 & 1/2 tbs apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
Sea salt & black pepper to taste
1. Cook the lentils. Place them in a small pot of boiling water over medium high heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the al dente. Drain the lentils and rinse in cold water. Keep to the side.
2. Prepare the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together the shallot, apple, maple syrup, mustard, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
3. Put together the salad. Place the Cyprus vetch (“louvana”) on the bottom. Place the lentils, cheese, tomatoes, sweet peas, and prosciutto (optional) on top and drizzle with vinaigrette. The vinaigrette will make the Cyprus vetch “louvana” wilt pretty quickly. So I think it’s best to keep the dressing on the side until you are ready to serve this salad. You may not need all of the vinaigrette.