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Market coordinator stirs up host of delectable dishes

A new chef will soon be on board to take over much of Boone Street Market’s cooking duties, but Cavender will be ready to pick up a knife and pitch in.
A new chef will soon be on board to take over much of Boone Street Market’s cooking duties, but Cavender will be ready to pick up a knife and pitch in.

By LISA WHALEY

Ashley Cavender had no idea she would one day be cooking for hundreds.
Yet when Cavender, Boone Street Market’s local food market coordinator accepted her Appalachia CARES/Americorps placement at the store committed to offering locally grown food, she knew she might have to learn.
“I told them I had never cooked large quantities,” Cavender said. But she was willing to try.
Soon, thanks to the guidance of local volunteers Carter Florence and Matt Meeks, Cavender had happily connected with  her inner chef.
“They both really helped me gain more confidence,” she  said.
And in a short amount of time, Boone Street Market customers were delightedly sampling Cavender’s curried pumpkin, butternut and cabbage, sweet potato and sausage soups, her sweet potato salads and turnip, garlic mashed potatoes and her savory fritattas.
“We try to make sure the main ingredient is local,” she said. In winter months, that sometimes means getting creative to best incorporate readily available local foods into a tasty dish.
Cavender is also known for modifying her base recipes when inspiration strikes her.
In her recent Mustard Green and Sweet Onion Frittata, for example, she began with a popular Food & Wine recipe, then added salad greens, milk, shiitake mushrooms, Romano cheese and butter — all items currently available at the market. She has shared the base recipe, below and encourages Jonesborough’s chefs to experiment and add their own spin to the dish.

Mustard Green and Sweet Onion Frittata
 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 1/2 pounds mustard greens, stems discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
16 large eggs, beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large ovenproof nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat until golden brown, 10 minutes. Add the greens and cook until wilted.
Season the eggs with salt and pepper and whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Pour the eggs into the skillet and cook over moderate heat until the bottom and sides begin to set.
Lift the sides of the frittata to allow the uncooked eggs to seep under. Continue cooking until the bottom is set and the top is still runny, 3 minutes. Sprinkle the Parmigiano-Reggiano on top.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for about 8 minutes, until the center of the frittata is set.
Slide the frittata onto a cutting board. Cut into 1 1/2-inch squares and serve at room temperature.