If you look on my website, KarenSchuppert.com, you will see in my About page that I’m a “farmers’ market addict.”

Yup, full confessional, and it hasn’t waned in more than 13 years. For six months, I’ve made the trek to other counties in search of juicy blood oranges or that perfect sweet pea. And now, with great delight, I can report that our local market returns to Napa in just one week.

Shopping at the farmers market is an entirely different experience from shopping in a supermarket. The farmers have raised everything they sell, they have nurtured their crops and are invested in your enjoyment of their produce in a way that a grocery store clerk might not be.

I am always amazed at the variety of produce offered at the market. I especially love finding something I haven’t tried before and having the opportunity to talk with the farmer who grew it. The first time I came across kohlrabi (now one of my favorite vegetables) I had no idea what it was or how to eat it. If I had seen it at a supermarket, I would have passed it by for a turnip (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but at the market, the farmer who grew it told me how to peel and cook it or even eat it raw.

For me, the biggest reason to shop at farmers markets is flavor. Food that is locally grown and picked when it is ripe simply tastes better.

But farmers markets also provide an important service in our society. They help keep small farmers, food producers and artisans in business, and, in turn, support our own local economy. They provide a place for lower-income families to purchase high-quality fresh produce that is all too often not available in their local supermarkets.

They are also far more likely than large corporate farms to grow their produce organically, and if you have any questions about it, you can ask the farmer directly.

Cauliflower Pizza

Cauliflower is all the rage and with good reason. It is such a versatile veggie, packed with nutrients and low in calories. Using it as the “crust” in pizza is a winner with all ages. And it’s gluten-free. Now you won’t feel so guilty about the cheese on top.

1 cup riced cauliflower

3 cups mozzarella, divided

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1 tsp. crushed garlic

1 egg

Olive oil

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Olives

Artichokes

Sun-dried tomatoes

Additional toppings if desired

Pulse one head of chopped cauliflower in a food processor until it looks like grain. Steam the cauliflower for 8 minutes. Squeeze out excess moisture with paper towels.

In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup riced cauliflower, 1½ cups mozzarella, oregano, garlic salt, garlic and egg. If you have extra cauliflower, make another crust.

Oil a cookie sheet and pat mixture into a 9-inch circle. Brush with olive oil. Bake the crust at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

Top the pizza with 1½ cups mozzarella, olives, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes. Broil 3-4 minutes or until cheese melts.

Karen Schuppert is a culinary coach and board member of the Napa Farmers Market. She hopes to see you on opening day, May 3, at 8 a.m. for the ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Jill Techel.

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