Fresh Thinking: 9 Farmers Market Recipes
Try recipes from three Midwest chefs using fresh produce from local farmers markets.
Roasted Summer Vegetable Pizzettes
Roast fresh tomatoes, onion, sweet pepper and seasonings for a summer vegetable puree that tops whole wheat or white pita bread rounds. Smoked mozzarella adds another punch of flavor in this recipe from chef Sarah Slater in Athens, Ohio.
Napa Cabbage Spring Rolls
"Spring rolls are a great way to utilize fresh vegetables as they become available at the market," says chef Kevin Shinn in Lincoln, Nebraska.
This fresh soup from Sarah Stegner of Chicago uses pea shoots—the tiny, tender leaves and vines of young pea plants—found at farmers markets in June and later. Can't find them? Substitute baby spinach.
"I refer to the humble fritter as a blank canvas on which we paint the colors of the season," says Lincoln, Nebraska chef Kevin Shinn. "With the basic batter recipe, you can simply change the vegetable. We start out with asparagus and move to sweet peas, to green onions, to sweet corn and so on."
Pesto usually starts with basil, but arugula gives it a nutty, peppery taste.
Vegan Chocolate-Blueberry Parfait
Athens, Ohio chef Sarah Slater says any kind of berry will do in this parfait. "Just buy what's in season. Vegans and nonvegans love it."
Peach Pecan Vinaigrette with Spring Green Salad
Sarah Slater looks forward to fresh peaches appearing at her farmers market in Athens, Ohio. This is just one way she uses the juicy fruit.
Napa Cabbage and Black Bean Slaw
Jicama adds crunch to this slaw from Sarah Stegner of Chicago. Use leftover dressing as a dipping sauce for chicken nuggets, cooked shrimp or fries.
Crisp Portobello Mushroom and Spring Carrot Salad
Goat cheese and chives top golden skillet-cooked mushrooms and cooked carrots in this recipe from Sarah Stegner of Chicago. Homemade honey-mustard vinaigrette adds a pleasing tang.
Sarah Stegner: Farmers market buying tips
Make good relationships to get better products. Get to know a farmer, and you can ask about what's coming into season, what is at its peak of flavor and for something special to be grown for you. And you can comfortably give feedback on a product.
Ask for samples. Most farmers are willing to let you try before you buy.
If you don't see something, ask. Maybe the farmer can tell you who has that product or when it will be available. Farmers markets are food communities.
Bring cloth bags. Or you'll end up with lots of plastic when you go home.
Kevin Shinn: Farmers market buying tips
Make a deal on scratch-and-dent produce. For sauces and many salads, slightly damaged fruits and vegetables are just fine.
Arrive early for specialty items. If you're buying common items like sweet corn in mid-July, you don't have to be there when the market opens. But for specialty items such as the pea and sunflower sprouts Kevin uses in salads and risotto, show up first.
Focus on quality rather than price. Instead of haggling over every item, focus on quality and building a relationship with the farmer. "Better to paya quarter more for nicer produce or a better relationship with a vendor."
Sarah Slater: Farmers market buying tips
Walk through the market before you buy. Sarah reviews the entire market, taking notes along the way, then decides what to purchase.
Take a few chances! Try something new or combine ingredients in a different way. Sarah fills enchiladas with squash and eggplant and uses fresh peaches in barbecue sauce.
Challenge yourself. Make a whole meal using only products you buy at the market.