So you went to your local Farmers Market (or received your box of “ugly” produce from places like Imperfect Foods) – but now what?
I don’t know about you, but I get kind of excited when I roll up to that open air goodness on a Saturday morning and see all the farmers with their beautiful rainbow of produce just waiting to be eaten (oh, how I miss the days of living just blocks away from the Oak Park Farmers Market!). One of my favorite things to do when I’m home visiting my mom is to go to the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market. It is MASSIVE.
And I used to just buy everything in sight like a kid in a candy store (this 100% happened last weekend because it was the first market trip of the season). But then I realized that going to the Farmers Market is no different than getting groceries from other places – I needed a plan.
The first tip I quickly realized was that I needed to have a set amount of cash to spend. This originated in part because not every stand has access to a credit card machine, but also it allowed me to prioritize what produce was going to shine this week and what would need to wait for next week. This also helped me to avoid over-buying, which led to food waste (kind of the opposite goal of going to the farmers market in the first place).
The second thing I do now is go in with a list. This is a more flexible list than my usual grocery store list because I want to get what is fresh and looks the best. But at least I have some idea of what I want to make for the week and how much produce I will need.
I’ve assembled a collection of “recipes” – I use this term lightly, since most of them are really just a list of ingredients – that I like to make after a big trip to the Farmers Market. I usually pick several of the items below, pair them with some quinoa, brown rice or fresh whole grain bread (yes, these are usually more $$ especially if it’s vegan and GF, but this is usually a treat a few times during the summer!). And within a few hours of getting home, we’ll have a yummy plate of veggies like this:
The first thing I always do after getting home from the Farmers Market is to turn the sink into a “produce bath” to clean everything off.
Kale & mushrooms
Dinosaur kale and baby bella mushrooms work best for this. Chop it up, saute with olive oil, salt and pepper. Serve. That’s really all.
Tomato, basil, balsamic vinegar, S&P
Slice fresh tomato, add a few basil leaves, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle salt & pepper. Eat. I promise you won’t even miss the mozzarella. But if you do, try adding tofu sliced thin and “marinated” with lemon juice and salt.
I wish I had a recipe for you, but I truly just throw this one together. Cook rice noodles according to package and set aside. You can also go ahead and press your tofu and chop it into bite-sized pieces.
Sauté onions, garlic, fresh ginger, cinnamon sticks and cloves in a large pan until fragrant. Then add chopped mushrooms (we love shiitake) and cook until they are soft. Add veggie broth, and chopped bok choy (I like to chop the ends smaller like an onion then let the leafy greens stay a bit bigger). Let cook until bok choy is soft. Add tofu and bring to a boil. Once tofu has firmed up some, add in rice noodles and more veggie broth and let simmer until fragrant. Add coconut aminos and sriracha to taste. Top with fresh lime, cilantro, mint, basil and chopped green onions. If you live in Charlotte and can go to the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market, On The Run produce has all of these ingredients for a fabulous price (they are usually at the end of the first closed space building). If you still wish you had a recipe, this one from Cookie and Kate looks to be similar to what I do.
This is my go to for those busy weekends or when I’m trying to feed the whole family quickly. Chop up the veggies, put them on a pan, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Roast on 350˚ for 30 minutes or until just browned. Serve with brown rice or quinoa. Baked potatoes also make a nice side.
Red potatoes & green beans
Chop up the green beans and potatoes into bite-sized pieces, then boil with a splash of olive oil, salt & pepper. Cook until potatoes are soft and serve with a mix of brown and wild rice.
I keep these super simple because the flavors of farm-fresh veggies do all the work. Chop up romaine lettuce and add some peppers, carrots, cucumbers and air-fryer tofu or chickpeas then top with your dressing of choice! Best enjoyed with a large side of sunshine.
If you get to the market early enough, many farmers in the peak of summer will have bags of shelled peas ready to be boiled and eaten. Many times they are in a cooler and you may have to ask the farmers if they have any. These go FAST but it’s totally worth getting there right when they open. We boil them with some olive oil, salt and pepper (notice a theme here?) and they are DELICIOUS.
My farmers market favorites are strawberries, peaches, plums, melons & apples.
We love to chop up veggies really small, roast them with olive oil/salt/pepper/cumin, then stuff them into corn tortillas along with shredded red cabbage, cilantro, lime and fresh salsa for a delicious Farmers Market Taco. Our go to veggies for this are squash, zucchini, mushrooms, onion, sweet potato, butternut squash, regular potatoes, and really any veggie the market has!
Fresh veggies + hummus or vegan ranch
It always amazes me how much more flavor peppers straight from the farm (or Tower Garden on my back patio!) have than store-bought ones. I could live off of summer cucumbers, peppers, carrots and tomatoes with any kind of dip (or plain – because they are that flavorful!). Check out my favorite hummus recipe here and my favorite vegan ranch recipe here.