Grow Local: Allen Farms Pea Greens

Saturday, May 15, 2010


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If you’ve been to one of Rhode Island’s many restaurants that order local produce through Farm Fresh RI’s Market Mobile program, odds are you’ve eaten something from Allen Farms. The farm, run by the inimitable Debbie Barrett who always exudes joy and a love of farming, is located in Westport, Massachusetts. At restaurants all over RI and southern Mass., the herbs that Debbie raises have become a staple in delicious dishes. There’s thyme, lemon verbena, chives, tarragon, mint, Italian parsley, sage, lavender, Thai basil—the list goes on and on. And her cut flowers and decorative herb plants such as African blue basil and Alpine strawberry serve as centerpieces and window dressings. Allen Farms helps to add a ton of flavor and beauty to our restaurant experience.

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Debbie has run Allen Farms for 23 years now, 21 of which it has been a Bay State Certified Organic Farm—and how many people were farming organically in 1989? In addition to the many herbs, during the produce growing season Allen Farms raises Persian cucumbers, Toscano kale and a number of “at risk” vegetables as part of Chefs Collaborative’s RAFT (Renewing America’s Food Traditions) Grow-Out. Debbie has helped to keep alive the Trophy Tomato, Long Pie Pumpkin, Boothby’s Blond Cucumber and Jimmy Nardello’s Sweet Italian Frying Pepper.

During the winter and early spring months visitors to the indoor Farmers’ Market at the Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket are sometimes lucky enough to find Debbie at the Allen Farms table where she loves to chat and educate people on raising their own herbs. Also at that table is an absolutely delicious find, the Allen Farms pea greens. The greens have an almost sweet flavor, most similar to a sugar snap pea. I’ve eaten them plain out of the bag, thrown them into the food processor and made a pistou (a pesto variation) or—something that is a favorite of my wife Brenda—piled them high in a sandwich.

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Thinking of the pea greens in a sandwich immediately brought to mind one of the best sandwiches around to use the greens, the “special” Roasted Turkey Sandwich from The Liberty Elm Diner in Providence. The Liberty Elm makes their own very tasty herb mayonnaise for the sandwich, so I recommend ordering it there sometime. But you should definitely pick up some Allen Farms pea greens and try it yourself from the recipe here that they were so kind to share with us.

Allen Farms, 913 Division Rd., Westport, MA, 508-636-2013,, The Liberty Elm Diner, 777 Elmwood Ave., Providence, 401-467-0777,

Roasted Turkey Sandwich
1 turkey breast (8 lbs.)
½ lb. unsalted butter, softened
8 stems cilantro
8 stems thyme
sea salt
fresh cracked pepper
tomatoes, sliced
Allen Farms pea greens
12 slices of Tuscan bread

1. Pre-heat oven to 325 F
2. Rub half of the butter under skin of turkey breast. Place cilantro and thyme under skin as well. Rub remainder of butter on outside of skin and salt & pepper to taste.
3. Place turkey in roasting pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
4. Roast for approximately 2 ½ hours until breast reaches an internal temperature of 165 F
5. Remove turkey from oven and let rest for 15 minutes.
6. While turkey is resting toast Tuscan bread.
7. Carve turkey into ¼” thick slices
8. Build sandwich by spreading mayonnaise on inside of two slices of toast. Stack turkey slices, tomatoes and pea greens between toast.

Photo David Dadekian, Allen Farms


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