I honestly can’t tell most days whether it’s supposed to be fall or still summer. The leaves are just starting to change, the root vegetables are ABUNDANT, and occasionally there’s an actual chill in the air in central Illinois.
Since we’re wrapping back around, in a way, to some beginning-of-the-season offerings (greens, herbs, radishes), I thought I’d pull up selections from prior weeks. Do you have any favorites? We’d love to hear from you! Check out our Facebook page and message us!
Carrot salad w/ harissa & feta & mint
This dish is one of my favorites from Smitten Kitchen, and a great alternative to green salads when you have vegetarians to feed. It’s absolutely amazing when made with locally-grown carrots. If you haven’t had them raw, you’re in for a treat; they’re almost as surprising as a local tomato, I think. This recipe is great with or without the harissa — a spicy, garlic-y paste/spice mix. You can make your own, substitute it with another garlic-y chili paste, or just leave it out altogether. Pantry Check / Shopping list: carrots, caraway seeds (optional), cumin seeds, paprika, harissa (optional), sugar, lemon, flat leaf parsley, fresh mint, feta cheese.
Vegetable Frittata with Greens and Potato
Here’s a base recipe for the frittata (from Epicurious). To that base, add what you have! I like greens, herbs, potatoes, cheese, maybe some bacon or ground pork. If you have leftover roasted root veggies, chop them up (bite-sized) and add them as well; I think it actually works best when you have pre-cooked potatoes (or carrots or sweet potatoes)!
Pantry Check / Shopping List: chives, spinach or kale, eggs, potatoes, milk, sausage (optional), goat cheese (chevre).
(Be sure to check out this post on soups generally)
So easy, though it does call for a lot of stirring. There are a lot of recipes out there for polenta with a braised or steamed green (try beet greens!). This recipe from Food.com has swiss chard and a topping with dried fruits and nuts, as well as cheese (which is a must for polenta, in my opinion).
Pantry Check / Shopping List: Swiss chard, crushed red pepper flakes, golden raisins, yellow cornmeal, milk, grated parmesan cheese, pine nuts.
Green Chickpea & Chicken Curry w/ Beet Greens
Green Chickpea & Chicken Curry w/… The recipe is written for swiss chard, but did you know that beet greens are like identical cousins? They’ll do very nicely in this recipe. Pantry Check: chicken thighs, shallots, green curry paste, chili paste, ginger, coconut milk, chickpeas, greens
Magic Sauce – From 101 Cookbooks, this stuff is like liquid gold… use it on eggs, pasta, potatoes, just about anything. Pantry Check: fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, fresh oregano, paprika, garlic, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, lemon juice
Be sure to check out Jen’s post on beets — we can’t get enough of beets in my house, even though at least half of them end up pickled…
Here are some things we’re looking forward to making with market and other local ingredients:
Creamy Breakfast Polenta – this gets its creaminess from tahini — which might sound a bit strange in a breakfast porridge, but give it a chance! Pantry check: cornmeal, almond milk, water, salt, brown sugar or honey, tahini, cinnamon, cardamom, berries
Amaranth, Quinoa, and Polenta Porridge – amaranth on its own doesn’t have a lot of flavor, but I really like the idea of adding the quinoa and polenta. Homemade multigrain cereal! I’m not aware of a local amaranth grower, but I’m pretty sure that Common Ground carries it in their bulk area. Pantry check: amaranth, quinoa, polenta or cornmeal, water, milk, cinnamon, maple syrup, nuts or seeds
Roasted vegetables & hummus – as a dip or sandwich
Fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil & balsamic vinegar, a little green onion, lettuce if you have it.
Mediterranean Chopped Salad Pantry check: olive oil, white wine vinegar, almonds, canned chick peas. Swap out veggies as desired – this recipe features sweet bell peppers, but carrots, fennel, or shaved zucchini would work well here, too.
Come to think of it, is there any better time of year for any kind of chopped salad? Smitten Kitchen’s would make a great non-sad desk lunch, too. Pantry check: olive oil, red wine vinegar, chick peas, salami.
With all the fresh veggie options, its a great time of year for noodle salads. Martha Stewart has 17 ideas for you.
Penne with sweet summer vegetables, pine nuts, and herbs – the recipe calls for roasting all the vegetables, which is one option for reducing the time spent standing at the stove. You could roast ahead of time, even. Sub in whatever you have and love; it doesn’t need to be exactly this combination of vegetables. Pantry check: cherry tomatoes, corn, summer squash, red onion, garlic, olive oil, penne (or other pasta), basil and oregano, salt and pepper, pine nuts
BBQ chicken with peach and feta slaw – this recipe calls for store-bought, pre-shredded broccoli slaw, but it’s gonna be that much better with the real deal. Use a food processor to turn your broccoli into slaw, or just slice very fine. Pantry check: olive oil, sherry vinegar (or sub wine vinegar), your fave store-bought BBQ sauce.
Hummus heaped with tomatoes and cucumbers – and you don’t even have to make your own hummus (but if you want to, you can. And let us know if you peeled the chick peas!). Pantry check: sumac, za’atar (optional – both can be found at Common Ground in Bloomington), olive oil, fresh lemon, fresh herbs.
Shakshuka works as a quick dinner, reheats as a great lunch, and is perfectly at home for breakfast, too. You don’t have to make it spicy – there are plenty of variations on this dish. Pantry check: tomato paste, cumin seeds, caraway, paprika, eggs, honey, garlic, greens.
Can you believe it’s mid-July already? So many weeks of the market, it’s hard to keep track without having a calendar handy. So we’re switching to dates in the title instead of week numbers.
I visited the farmer’s market in the adorable town of Port Townsend, WA last weekend, and there were some noticeable differences in available produce: cooler-weather crops like fava beans and radishes (since it’s still in the 50s-70s there!), and a large variety of currants. Market day was a “hot” one, which meant upper 70s, possibly low 80s in the sun. Dry as can be, though, which was a nice contrast to our current weather of 90+ F and 90+ humidity! The currants were lovely, and I might have been tempted to grab some and make a quick pot of jam, except that I knew there were currants waiting in the Refuge Food Forest here in Normal!
Back in Bloomington-Normal, our extended heat through July-August means several things for your weekly local farm and garden haul:
chickens may slow down or stop laying for a bit when it’s this hot, so you may have to ration those eggs!
cilantro and basil in your gardens will likely bolt, sending out seed heads that you can save and replant, or let nature do its thing and replant them for you.
lettuces are going to bolt as well; without a hoop house to keep the temperatures low, farmers can’t grow lettuce in this kind of heat. Give it some time, and you can replant in the fall.
provided they get sufficient water, your tomatoes are going to be happy and ripe!
chile peppers of all varieties are going to start coming with a fury! they love the heat, and give it right back to you in flavor 🙂
In addition to the Saturday morning market, you can also find local produce at Common Ground in downtown Bloomington, and Green Top Grocery just east of downtown on Washington Street. And just this week, Browns’ Produce opened their farmstand on Brown Street just off of West Market — be sure to stop by!
This Week’s Menu:
I’m feeling like salads day and night right now, and other things that are FAST and require little tending on the stove. Here are a few of my favorites:
Slightly Savory Granola – an unusual granola recipe from the NY Times, made with olive oil! It’s a tad addictive, especially with yogurt. I used to buy Traderspoint Creamery yogurt in Indianapolis, but haven’t found a new local favorite yet — recommendations always welcome!
Eggy Polenta w/ Mushrooms – From The Kitchn, and a great way to incorporate local grain (corn — I know, not technically a grain) and mushrooms AND eggs! I’d be inclined to use those gorgeous duck eggs I’ve been seeing lately at the market… they’d be delicious!
Chicken Meatballs and Polenta – There are a number of different variations on this recipe; I like chicken instead of turkey, and kale makes a nice addition at the end to plate with the dish.
Cumin-Scented Black Rice and Quinoa – This recipe from Bon Appetit takes a little time to cook (the grains cook separately), but once made, it’s easy to reheat and enjoy through the week. You can add chunks of sweet potato, some greens and a little tahini dressing, and you’ve got a quick meal.
Is it gazpacho season yet? Are you drowning in tomatoes? If not yet, I’ll put this here for later. I generally make Mollie Katzen’s version, which is full of veg and herbs, but I’ve also posted the NY Times version above. Regardless of which recipe you use, make sure to let it rest in the fridge for a few hours before serving; the flavors take a little time to develop.
Cornmeal is a versatile grain that is probably more integral to southern cooking than it is to midwestern fare*. But if your family has southern roots, or you’ve got an Italian grandmother, then I’ll bet that cornmeal appears in your personal food history.
You can anchor a meal with cornmeal in the same way you use potatoes, rice, and noodles: serve with proteins and vegetables to create a balanced and filling meal. Because it is gluten-free, corn is a great option for those eaters avoiding gluten.
Cooked cornmeal is incredibly flexible – you can go savory or sweet. Once cooked, polenta (grits) can also be formed and grilled or fried into cakes or fries. It freezes well, too – it’s one of those things that I make extra of so that I can freeze and use later.
I have to imagine that “hot cereal” is so old-school that it’s now cool again, right? (Anyone else grow up loving Cream of Wheat?) When you need a change-up from oats, add grits/polenta to your breakfast repertoire. You could also make cornmeal pancakes or waffles.
It’s not uncommon to see polenta paired with hearty, tomato-rich sauces, especially those prepared with slow-cooked meats (the quintessential American version of this is cornbread and BBQ). Here is a great slow-cooker recipe for beef (it’s getting hot out there! OK, that was two recipes). This recipe is for sausage lovers, and this one for a meatless option. Last week I made a pot of polenta and served it with sautéed mushrooms, onions, asparagus and peppers with a splash of white wine.
Here’s an interesting twist on meatballs from chef Vivian Howard, a champion of southern regional cooking. They would make a great party appetizer.
Cornmeal also has a wonderful use in muffins* and cakes. I have a go-to cornmeal cake that I make for pretty much any occasion (“occasional” also defined as “any time I want cake”). It’s so good that, when pressed for time or ingredients, I just leave out the (frankly optional) blueberry sauce. I’ve also served it with prepared jam from the store. Warning: you’re going to want to save yourself a couple of pieces for breakfast the next day (goes great with coffee!).
The cornmeal I have from Ackerman Farms (sold at their farmers’ market stall or at Common Ground Grocery) and it is ground quite fine, so it cooks on on the stovetop very quickly. Here is the easy method that I used.
Pressure Cooking Method
(Have I mentioned how much I love Hip Pressure Cooking?) The cornmeal I had cooked up so quickly on the stove, I’m not sure it would be worth it to haul out my pressure cooker. But I really enjoyed their outline of thedebate between Italian foodies and Italian nonnas about the pressure cooker as an appropriate polenta-cooking tool. (I am not taking sides, but would be happy to participate in a taste-off if in this debate.) Some good polenta ideas in there, too.
Every week in this section, we’ll bring you a preview of what’s expected at the market (depending on availability), and a set of links to recipes that feature seasonal produce, with ingredients to help guide your market and other shopping.
A note about the recipes that follow: they were selected to make use of seasonal local products, with room to alter them to fit your family’s needs. This week features vegetarian recipes, but suggestions for meat additions will be included as well. In the shopping lists that appear below each recipe, we’ll assume that you have the following in your pantry: Garlic, Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper. Click over to the recipe at its source for complete lists with amounts (and instructions).
Steel-Cut Oats or Whole Oats
No matter the weather, I can always eat steel-cut oats for breakfast. You can cook them the night before and then reheat in the morning, set up in the crock pot overnight, or just cook them in the morning (if you have an hour or so). Alton Brown’s recipe is deliciously rich (containing butter, milk, and buttermilk!). Bob’s Red Mill version is simply oats and water. I like a ratio of 1:3 or 1:4, 1/2 c. oats, 1 1/2 c. water, and 1/2 c. milk (added at the end, so that it doesn’t boil for too long). Very recently, I’ve started adding peanut butter — the fresh-ground kind, which you can grind yourself at Green Top. Optional additions include maple syrup or honey, nuts and/or dried fruit, or preserves. (If you have any fruit left in your freezer from last season, this is a good time to get it out and make some quick refrigerator preserves!). Note: if your oats are whole, rather than cut, you can cook them in that form, too. To release a bit of the starch and make the finished oatmeal more creamy, just pulse them in the food processor a few times.
1/2 c. dry oats will serve 2, with each serving containing 152 calories, 6.6g protein, 26g carbs, 2.7g fat (oats-only). Pantry Check / Shopping List: steel-cut or whole oats, milk (optional), optional additions.
How do you like your lunch routine? It’s easy to get stuck in a lunch rut during the long midwestern winter, but spring greens give you dozens of options. This week, I plan to make four different “salads” (to use the term loosely). There’s no reason you can’t make these for dinners, of course, but the one thing they all have in common is that they can be prepped and stored for a few days, and taste just as good.
Kale Salad with Wheat Berries and Tofu
I really like this Mighty Grain Salad recipe from The First Mess (via Happyolks) as a base for grain salads. It’s flexible enough to make with what you have on hand, but delicious made exactly as written, too.
This week, I’m planning to use winter wheat berries for the grain in the recipe. If you haven’t eaten wheat berries before, you’re in for a treat! They’re nutty and chewy and a little sweet, and available straight from local farmers at the market. Wheat berries can take up to an hour to cook, but they can be cooked in advance and frozen; just make sure to drain them well before freezing. I’ll use carrots and broccoli for the veg, plus chickpeas, curly kale, parsley, sunflower seeds, and cubed firm tofu, with lemon juice for the acid and just a touch of olive oil. If you wanted to add more protein to your meal, add your favorite meat on the side; roasted or baked chicken breast would be delicious with this.
Tip: if you have a food processor, try shredding the carrots with the grater attachment, then switching to the chopping blade. Pulse a few times, until crumbly. Dump the carrots into a large bowl, and add rough-chopped broccoli into the processor bowl. Pulse a few times, until the texture is similar. The image at the right is a simplified version of this food-processor salad, using only carrots and broccoli with lemon juice (hemp hearts optional). It’s super tasty, and keeps incredibly well through the week.
This dish is one of my favorites from Smitten Kitchen, and a great alternative to green salads when you have vegetarians to feed. It’s absolutely amazing when made with locally-grown carrots!! And it’s good with or without the harissa — a spicy, garlic-y paste/spice mix. You can make your own, substitute it with another garlic-y chili paste, or just leave it out altogether — the salad will still be delicious! Pantry Check / Shopping list: carrots, caraway seeds (optional), cumin seeds, paprika, harissa (optional), sugar, lemon, flat leaf parsley, fresh mint, feta cheese.
HB Eggs / Egg Salad Sandwiches with Radish Salad
I’ve been eyeing this Radish and Herb Salad with Meyer Lemon Dressing for a while, and it’s the first thing I want to make now that we’ve finally arrived at radish season! I love the combination of rich egg salad with the dry bite of a good radish. You could add some sliced radishes to your sandwich and not bother with the salad at all, if you want to keep it simple. The meyer lemon is lovely, but I think regular lemons are just fine in this recipe. You could also use orange juice. Pantry Check / Shopping list: fresh crusty bread, white wine vinegar, celery, eggs, whole-grain dijon, mayonnaise, shallots, lemon, parsley, radishes, fennel, capers.
Kale Salad with Sweet Potato and Black Beans
This hearty “salad” comes from Cookie and Kate. I say “salad” because it’s nothing like a traditional green salad with dressing; it’s greens and grains, roots and beans, and the dressing is tailor-made for it (and easy to make!) All the ingredients are things I tend to have in my pantry, or can easily substitute or omit. It’s great when made with kale, but you can use spinach or another green if you prefer. The quinoa is quick to cook, but you could use rice or another grain here, too. I’ve often made this with homemade hummus instead of the avocado sauce (since buying avocados in the midwest is a bit like playing roulette). The cumin-paprika-coriander and cilantro-lime are deliciously compatible flavors, so I don’t usually mess around with those too much, but otherwise feel free to experiment!! Pantry Check / Shopping List: quinoa, kale, lime, sweet potatoes, cumin, paprika, avocado, jalapeno, cilantro, coriander, black beans, feta cheese, pepitas (green pumpkin seeds).
This recipe is the result of a mistake that I decided to run with. It’s super tasty if you love spinach, and might even be tasty if you don’t love spinach (yet!). The spinach is blended into a sort of sauce, which is added to rice as it cooks. So if your dislike of spinach is based on the texture, rather than flavor, this may be the perfect recipe for you (and perhaps your kids). The original recipe was the green rice portion of these sweet potato bowls. My mistake is that I used about 3x as much spinach I was supposed to, but I loved the results. I now make it as the base of a buddha bowl, or to serve alongside grilled meat or fish or baked tofu. I’ve also tried it topped with feta and sunflower seeds for a sort of one-pot / stovetop version of Mollie Katzen’s Spinach Rice Casserole.
Pantry Check / Shopping List: brown rice, vegetable broth, spinach, cilantro, jalapeno or serrano pepper (optional), shallot, plus whatever you’re serving the rice with.
Vegetable Frittata with Greens and Potato
Using a base recipe for the frittata (we’re a fan of base recipes here!), I’m going to use fresh kale, chives and potatoes, and some fresh goat cheese if I can find it this week! Add some meat, if you like; fresh pork sausage would be delicious. If you’ve never made a frittata before, never fear! The Epicurious recipe linked above is easy to follow and gives you a blank slate for all sorts of add-ins.
Pantry Check / Shopping List: chives, spinach or kale, eggs, potatoes, milk, sausage (optional), goat cheese (chevre).
Polenta with Greens
Polenta is cornmeal which has been boiled, giving it the creamy texture of hot cereal. It may be served hot as a porridge, or cooled and sliced and then fried. This recipe from Food.com uses it in its porridge form, adds swiss chard and a topping with dried fruits and nuts, as well as cheese. I plan to make it exactly as written, as it’s simple and quick! Note that you can use the same type of greens as in the salad above, if you want to get double-duty out of them. Pantry Check / Shopping List: Swiss chard, crushed red pepper flakes, golden raisins, yellow cornmeal, milk, grated parmesan cheese, pine nuts.
Bow Tie Pasta w/ Arugula Gremolata
I love this recipe from Mollie Katzen of the Moosewood restaurant and cookbooks. A gremolata is a chopped-herb topping usually consisting of lemon, garlic, and parsley. This version uses arugula instead, and it’s a delicious way to get the peppery flavor of young arugula. I’ve come to think of this recipe as soon as I see arugula in the spring, it’s so simple and tasty. Best of all, it works as a hot dish or as a cold salad making for excellent leftovers! Pantry Check / Shopping List: bow-tie pasta, gorgonzola cheese, golden raisins (regular raisins are fine), cherry tomatoes (I omit until we get local tomatoes!), walnuts, arugula, lemon zest.
Creamy Asparagus Soup
Asparagus season is nearly behind us, but I wanted to include this recipe in case you come across any more. It’s my attempt at a very light curry flavor, without losing the delicious asparagus flavor. It’s a simple, quick soup to make, and can easily be made vegan: just substitute coconut oil for the butter.
Heat butter in a large skillet or heavy-bottomed pot until it starts to bubble a bit. Saute the shallots for 1-2 minutes, until they soften. Add the asparagus and a pinch of salt, and cook about 5 minutes, until they turn bright green and are tender. Turn off the heat and put the asparagus and shallots into your blender. Add the coconut milk — be sure to use the canned stuff, not the cartons sold for drinking. They’re two very different things! You can use the low- or full-fat versions depending on your preferences. Blend until smooth, taking care to “burp” between pulses if it’s still quite hot.
Return to the pot, turn the heat to medium, and add the sour cream and water, the spices, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir periodically to incorporate, and make sure it doesn’t burn. I like mine with a dollop of sour cream on top, but feel free to leave it out.
Rhubarb crisp! This NY Times recipe is quick to assemble, and might be nice to bake this weekend while it’s still so chilly! 1) Chop rhubarb, toss with sugar and lemon and put it in your casserole dish; 2) mix up the crumble ingredients (butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, rolled oats, pecans) and spread on top of rhubarb; 3) bake at 375F for 45 minutes. The recipe calls for a food processor, but honestly you can mix the crumble part by hand or with a fork. Gluten-free flours such as rice or oat will also work well here, if you need to substitute for the (wheat) AP flour. Pantry Check / Shopping List: butter, rhubarb, lemon juice, brown sugar, AP flour, cinnamon, rolled oats, pecans.
Stay tuned for next week’s Market Menu, to see what’s new!