Happy National Farmer’s Market Week!
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak has officially proclaimed the week of August 4 – August 10, 2013, National Farmer’s Market Week! While I celebrate local food and farmers markets as much as possible, this week is a great way to encourage the American public to purchase foods that are more fresh, much more delicious and that are healthful for their bodies. At the same time, those who shop at farmers markets support local economy (aka helping yourself out too!) as well as the environment. To top it off, these higher quality foods are often less expensive that what you see on the grocery store shelves!! For example, at my local market, The Wrightstown Farmers Market in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, I was able to purchase basic red tomatoes at just $2.99/lb – and they were grown using organic methods at Blooming Glen Farm.
Many people enjoy the farmers market simply because of the experience. It brings together a sense of community that much of America is lacking at times while tying in some education too. Taking your kids to the farmers market can be a learning experience where they can better understand where food comes from and how many different varieties there are of what you commonly see in the grocery store. What’s better than knowing the farmer that grew your food??
Many people are new farmers markets and sometimes are anxious about the experience of trying new foods. In the grocery store, everything looks the same; you have your basic romaine, iceberg, and spinach for lettuces, one type of zucchini and the boring yellow squash, and peppers definitely don’t come in purple and neither do tomatoes in multicolored red & green. The typical store really limits the variety we should all have in our diet – farm markets allow us to jump of our comfort zone. As a dietitian, I have had people expect that I have tried, and like, every food out there. This is not the case! This year for example two of my new favorites are garlic scapes and ramps – I didn’t know ramps existed until April! I hope I continue to try new things for years to come. So try new things each week, that is part of what makes cooking, eating and nutrition fun.
It is easy when at the market, seeing all of the bright fresh colors, to go a little overboard and buy more than you may have intended. That’s okay! That just means you have more chances to enjoy fresh recipes all week, and you then have the opportunity to freeze your selections for the winter. For example, I do this with berries and herbs.
In honor of National Farmers Market week, I decided to share what I purchased at the farmers market last Saturday, and then what I was able to do with those foods all week long. You can always ask the farmers-and fellow shoppers-for ideas on how to prepare foods but I hope this gives you a couple of ideas.
This week I bought: Mixed green lettuces, a huge bunch of fresh cilantro, hot peppers, non-GMO corn, non-GMO & pesticide free red tomatoes & heirloom tomatoes, a summer squash (barely visible in the upper right) and a cucumber. Off the top of my head other in season veggies right now that I saw at the market were onions (but already had a bunch at home), garlic, beets, okra (again, had some at home), turnips, green beans, basil and parsley.
While this is pretty straightforward and an obvious choice, there are so many different salad options to prepare so that its not the same boring greens every day. I used the mixed lettuces, red tomato, cucumber and some onion I already had. I topped it with fresh ground black pepper and oil and vinegar from a few blocks away from home. The Tubby Olive on State Street in Newtown has a huge selection of flavored oils and vinegars. My favorite combination for summer, because of how fresh and light they taste, are the Tuscan herb olive oil and Sicilian lemon balsamic. They just added a Tubby Olive location to the Reading Terminal Market in Philly too.
This bean salad utilized the greens, the rest of the red tomato, a good portion of the fresh cilantro, and some of a jalapeno. I sauteed the jalapeno in some olive oil with garlic before adding the black & kidney beans (both organic, prepared from dry) and then squeezed in fresh lime juice the cilantro and a touch of cumin. I threw in the tomato, diced, last.
Close up of those awesome heirlooms! Other than appearance, what is great about them is they each have their own distinct flavor.
Above I used the heirlooms again on a new pizza crust recipe. To the left is my dairy free version and on the right is Tim’s with a little shredded organic sharp cheddar. The crust is made of almond flour & cannellini beans so its great for anyone who is gluten free. I was very happy with the taste but do recommend that you cook at 375 degrees rather than the recommended 350 listed on the recipe’s website. On the crust we have Muir Glen organic pizza sauce that we added spinach to. We also added some red onion on top.
Above is the marinade/dressing I made for our grill night on Friday. I used a little olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon juice, as well as garlic, jalapeno, chopped cilantro, ground black pepper and dried cumin powder.
We marinated the filet of sole with this which we grilled on skewers (see above). I also used a basting brush to add a little of the flavor to the summer squash that I got at the market. We grilled asparagus and red onion too, but you can see the grilled corn from the farm market below was a star! I love grilled corn and its even better with a garlic jalapeno “butter”. I simply mix chopped garlic, chopped jalapeno, black pepper, cilantro (this herb from the farm market made it a long way this week!) and a little squeeze of lime juice with Earth Balance… the hot spiciness is perfect with the sweetness of the corn and the cilantro helps to balance out both flavors. Delicious!
Since I still had a little bit of the dressing I made (above) I added it to some plain quinoa and chopped some more of the heirlooms to toss in. It was a nice quick lunch on Saturday.
The last meal of the week was this rice dish. I sauteed the rest of the hot peppers with garlic in a pot before stirring in the dry brown rice. I then added the water (I was out of vegetable stock) and allowed the rice to cook per instructions on the Lundberg package. When it was almost done cooking, I added chopped okra (as mentioned above, it’s in season and at the farm markets now!) as well as organic black beans, some corn (frozen organic), spinach and spices. The spices I used were chili powder, cayenne, oregano, cumin and black pepper.
If you still haven’t been to your local farmer’s market, you can find it easily at http://www.localharvest.org/. If you are in the NYC area and haven’t been yet, you HAVE to stop at the Union Square Greenmarket. Being there is my version of “kid in a candy store”.
We are headed to California on Tuesday, so I didn’t stop back to the market yesterday. I am hoping to enjoy lots of local food when visiting the west coast though! I just got on instagram this week and will try to post pictures there and on twitter of food at the local & organic restaurants we plan to visit.