Week 5 Market Menu: Summer is Coming!

This week at the Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market and Artists’ Alley:

Seasonal: Greens: Arugula, LOTS of Lettuces, Kale, Swiss Chard, Spinach and Collard Greens!  Root Veg: Beets, Carrots, Potatoes, Radishes, and Turnips.  Summer squashes, including Zucchini!!  Herbs: Cilantro, Dill, Mint.  Kohlrabi and Cabbage!  And Strawberries!!!!

All Summer: Eggs, chicken, beef, oats, wheat, cornmeal, pork, cheese, honey, baked goods, lavender, mushrooms, popcorn, and much more. See the complete list of vendors at this year’s market for more information about produce and products.

 

 

It’s a short one this week!!

Breakfast Ideas:

I’ve been starting to crave smoothies in the morning, now that it’s getting warmer. And it might be all in my head, but I do feel like greens in the morning help keep me awake and alert until lunch. A quick trip in the blender, pop it in a cup and I can hit the road with my breakfast, which is an extra plus for me. I usually wing it, as far as a recipe. I start with around 12 oz milk (almond or soy milk works, too!) and protein powder. Then, flavor!  Frozen bananas and a handful of kale is my go-to, but I also like kale with frozen peaches, or spinach and frozen mango and banana!  Citrus is a nice balance to the green. I use a regular blender, and just start with a handful of greens at first. Search “Green Smoothie” and you’ll find literally dozens of recipes/combinations. Check out this list from DailyBurn.com.

 

Lunch Ideas:

Last week, I mostly stuck to a bagel or crackers, some Little Bloom on the Prairie with a touch of honey, and a handful of greens for lunch. Add just a touch of good olive oil and a splash of your favorite flavored balsamic vinegar to the greens, and you’re good to go! Here are a few other ideas for enjoying local produce in your lunches this week:

  • Radishes with garlic scape butter – add some crackers and cheese, and you have lunch!
  • Roast chicken (whole or parts) w/ a little olive oil, cool, then break down and portion out
  • Wheat berries are delicious in salads!
  • Hard-boil some eggs over the weekend, and add them to your lunchboxes during the week

 

Dinner Ideas:

  • If you’re grilling burgers or brats, slice up some turnips (less than 1/4″ thick) and put the finished grilled meat on top of the slices. The heat (temperature) of the meat softens up the turnips and dulls the heat (bite!) of the turnip. For someone like me, who’s not accustomed to the flavor of turnips, it’s a nice way to enjoy their flavor without the spiciness.
  • Pasta salads are a lovely way to avoid having the stove on at dinnertime. You can cook the pasta the night before, and dress it with your favorites. This one with swiss chard and garlic scape pesto looks delicious. Green garlic or garlic scapes would be great, especially with a little lemon zest and radishes.
  • Did you remember to pull some meat out of the freezer for tomorrow’s dinner? I wish I could consistently remember to do that!
  • Double up on things that require the oven, like casseroles or roasted veggies or meat. Plan to have leftovers for dinner the next day! Something like this chicken and kale casserole, or this spinach and egg strata.
  • If you grill or roast veggies and have leftovers, and are wondering what to do with them, why not try a Buddha bowl? Just add some grain and your favorite things from your fridge, basically. It works. Surprisingly well.

 

 

What to Do With All Those Springtime Herbs

If I had to choose one thing that has really changed my cooking, it’s using fresh herbs. Tossing some chopped parsley, chive or cilantro on a dish is an easy, healthy and time-saving shortcut to robust flavor.

I grew up in family that is typically planning the next meal with gusto as we are eating the current one (you, too?). Since the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (brace yourself for endless bad food puns in my posts…sorry), once I was on my own in the world I would work through ambitious food projects because, well, I wanted to eat them. Make your own chicken stock?* You bet. Find the most authentic way to make a timpano?** It’s ON. Binge-watch the Sopranos and then make Italian-American meals that you saw on Carmela’s dinner table? Maybe I did. Fuggedabboutit.

But as my life got busier and busier (sound familiar?) I had to find cooking shortcuts. It dawned on me that sometimes I just shouldn’t bother cooking things; the veggies from the market and my CSA were so flavorful that, in most cases, I loved them raw. Talk about a time-saver. Duh.

I digress (is my middle name). Fresh herbs are an immediate way to punch up the flavor of any meal and are perfect when served chopped and totally raw (especially if, like me, you sometimes forget to follow the recipe and the dish is done and all that’s left to fix things is salt, pepper, and fresh parsley. Yay for parsley!). Because they are delicate, you almost always add fresh herbs at the end of your cooking to have that burst of flavor alongside the ones that you simmered, roasted or grilled.

But sometimes herbs are actually the star of the show, and springtime brings with it an explosion of flavor in tiny little bundles.  When you’re perusing the offering at the market, it’s going to be hard to resist those adorable clusters of herb joy – so don’t do it. Buy a bunch and when you get home and panic and think, what the heck do I do with all of this? you can check the blog and we’ll help you out.  No problem.

An herb sauce that is endlessly useful on meat or on veggies is chimichurri (which is also a great way to use your green garlic). There are many variations on this Argentinian staple (feel free to make up your own) and it works on just about anything savory, though traditionally it’s used as an accompaniment to grilled beef. (Try the leftovers on eggs!) For plant-based eaters, it’s lovely on grilled portobello mushrooms. Check out other options here and here.

Another great use for herbs is tabbouleh, served on its own as a salad and frequently as an accompaniment to hummous and with other mezze. I love a variation on tabbouleh that includes wheat berries, which are grown locally at Ackerman Farms and are sold at Common Ground in Bloomington.

Are you a salmon lover? (We are utterly devoted to our Sitka Salmon CSA share – did you know you can get sustainably-fished salmon and seafood from small, operator-owned fisheries in Sitka, Alaska delivered right to your door?) This recipe also calls for scallions (spring/green onions), another item that is plentiful in the early months of the summer market.  (I also love this NYT feature on parsley. The NYT Cooking section and app is excellent and FREE.)

I don’t want to leave anyone out, so how about some love for mint, cilantro, tarragon, and dill, while we’re at it.  That last link might send you down a rabbit hole, because Smitten Kitchen is about the best food blogger out there and it’s very likely that you’ll want her to be your best friend (I do!). But don’t forget that the thesis of this post is that all you have to do to enjoy herbs is chop them up and throw them on whatever you are eating. Done.

Happy spring! — J.S.

*Surprise! That link is actually to a hands-off recipe for homemade chicken stock! Not complicated at all.

**And you know that Stanley Tucci’s Big Night is the best movie ever, right? Full disclosure: have not yet made the timpano.

Week 3 Market Menu

This week at the Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market and Artists’ Alley:

Seasonal: More greens, more vegetable plants for your gardens! Arugula, Asparagus, Carrots, Chard, Collards, Kale, Mint, Potatoes, Radishes, Rhubarb, Spinach, Turnips, and more!

All Summer: Eggs, chicken, beef, oats, wheat, cornmeal, pork, cheese, honey, baked goods, lavender, mushrooms, popcorn, and much more. See the complete list of vendors at this year’s market for more information about produce and products.

Coming Soon:

vegetannual (1)
the mythical vegetannual: an imagining of all the vegetables we harvest, as if borne from a single plant, over the course of the year. More on this idea later, but for now, keep an eye on the vegetables that branch out near the “June” label above — they’re coming next!

 

 

Breakfast Ideas:

Muesli! It requires no heat, no chopping, and no prep. As close to “cereal and milk” as you can get with whole foods. 4 parts flaked grain (oats, wheat, etc.), 1 part nuts or seeds, 1 part dried fruit. My favorite is a combo of flaked rye and oats, flax meal (lightly ground seeds) and raw pumpkin seeds, and dried apricots. I may have to switch to it soon, when the heat comes back!

 

Lunch Ideas:

little bloom on the prairie, by prairie fruits farm

Greens w/ cheese and fruit and crackers – boom, lunch!  Last week, I went through a round of Prairie Fruits Farm’s Little Bloom on the Prairie at work with some of their homemade crackers, some local honey, milk and carrot sticks and apples.

But if you’re looking for something more, well, MORE, I’m very partial to The Kitchn at the moment for salad ideas.

 

Kale and Quinoa Salad – The Kitchn
This is a simple variation of the grain-kale salad. No having to choose your combo, just make it as is, and it’s a super tasty one. I’m not sure on local sources for the dates — I love the whole medjool dates that I know you can get at Fresh Market, but check Green Top and Common Ground!
Pantry check: onion, quinoa, lacinato kale, dates, almonds, orange, lime, maple syrup

 

Golden Beet and Barley Salad – The Kitchn
No need to wait for golden beets, this is just as delicious with red! Another easy grain salad that you can make ahead and have waiting for packed lunches for at least a couple of days.
Pantry check: beets (golden or red), barley, red onion, swiss chard, lemon juice, feta cheese

 

“Airplane Salad” (The Kitchn) – so easy, I’ll post the basics here. It’s not that different from the Oh She Glows mighty protein salad, or other grain/green salads; it’s simple and eminently packable, even if you’re traveling.

  • ~ 3 c chopped kale
  • ~ 1 c chopped carrots or chopped steamed broccoli
  • 1/2 c chopped frozen blueberries or peaches
  • 1/4 c cooked and cooled grain brown rice, wheat berries, or farro
  • 1/4 c nuts (I like pecans), seeds (flax or sesame) and/or craisins
  • 2 T. evoo
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

 

Dinner Ideas:

I don’t know about you, but when it’s as hot as it’s been recently, I don’t feel much like standing over a stove after work.  Grilling, though? Maybe. So this week, I’ve gathered a handful of non-stove recipes that I like. Grill on!

Garlic-Mustard Glaze – Bobby Flay / Smitten Kitchen
Deb (of sk) uses this on skewered chicken, but it’s great on any meat!
Pantry check: Dijon mustard, whole-grain mustard, white wine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, rosemary, paprika

  • Lemon-Parsley Bean Salad – Cookie and Kate
    Quick and pantry-friendly this time of year — w/ the exception of the tomatoes! Just don’t bother, until you can find them locally.
    Pantry check: kidney beans, garbanzo beans, red onion, celery, tomato (not this time of year, but later!), cucumber, parsley, fresh dill or mint, lemon juice.

 

Split Whole Cumin Chicken – Food Network
Wondering what to do with a whole chicken from your chicken CSA? Here’s one option!
Pantry check: 4-6# whole chicken, honey, cilantro, buttermilk, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, fennel seed

  • On the side: a quick carrot salad:  Grate 2-3 carrots, add a bit of minced garlic, toss with evoo, lemon juice, salt and pepper, parsley, and a little cayenne if you like some heat.

 

Chicken Salad w/ Arugula, Lemon and Pine Nuts – Food and Wine
I haven’t made this one before, but I’m definitely going to this week! It’s too early for zucchini around here, so I’ll probably leave it out. There will be PLENTY of time for zucchini-friendly recipes later in the season!!
Pantry check: currants (or raisins or craisins), cumin, lemon, zucchini, shallot, chicken breasts, pine nuts, arugula

 

Perfectly Grilled Steak – Bobby Flay
Pantry check: steak!!

  • Cowboy Caviar – Cookie and Kate
    SO much better than dumping Italian dressing on beans, which I’ve done to great disappointment.
    Pantry check: black-eyed peas, black beans, corn (I suggest frozen), bell pepper, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, red wine vinegar, oregano, basil, honey, red pepper flakes

Week 2 Market Menu:

This week at the Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market and Artists’ Alley:

Seasonal: More greens, and lots of vegetable plants for your gardens! Arugula and Spinach and Collards and Chard and Kale, Carrots, Chives, Mint, Potatoes, Radishes, Rhubarb, Turnips, and more. And confirmed with at least one vendor that there will be asparagus!

All Summer: Eggs, chicken, beef, oats, wheat, cornmeal, pork, cheese, honey, baked goods, lavender, mushrooms, popcorn, and much more. See the complete list of vendors at this year’s market for more information about produce and products.

This week’s Market Menu:

The name of the game this week is “work with what you have!” We have a lot of turnips, so I’ve gathered several recipes to help us make salads with them. But if a recipe calls for something you don’t have, don’t worry! I substitute heavily when I cook, with a few notable exceptions:

  1. vinegar – try to use the same kind specified. If there’s one kind of vinegar I try never to run out of, though, it’s plain white.  At the very least, it won’t overpower a dish if you have to use it in place of apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. I’ve made the mistake in the past of keeping a deep pantry of balsamic, and then finding I was out of every other kind of vinegar.
  2. spices – omit something you don’t have, rather than substitute (or at least taste first!)
  3. butter/oil – follow your heart and taste buds here, but I like to use whatever the recipe calls for.

Breakfast Ideas:

Wheat Berries w/ dried fruit & nuts – New York Times
Pantry Check: Wheat Berries, optional spices (anise or fennel, cinnamon, nutmeg), raisins or other dried fruit, nuts, yogurt, brown sugar or maple syrup

 

Fried-and-Scrambled (aka Frambled) Eggs – Epicurious
Pantry Check: Eggs, Butter, optional add-ins (sausage, greens)

 

Lunch Ideas:

Salad w/ New Potatoes and Pickled Spring Onions – Smitten Kitchen
Pantry Check: new/fingerling potatoes, asparagus, spring peas or beans (optional), radishes, spring onions, white wine vinegar, whole-grain mustard, smooth dijon mustard

Your Custom Salad: Green, Big, and Single-Subject Salad, and Dressings! – New York Times, “How to Make Salad”. I plan to make several versions of this throughout the week, using whatever greens I grab at the market. Arugula for sure.
Pantry Check: whatever looks good to you!!

Turnip and Cabbage Slaw with Yogurt Dressing – New York Times, “In Praise of Turnips, Year-Round”
Pantry Check: turnips, green cabbage, greek yogurt, dill

Shaved Turnip and Radish Salad with Poppyseed Dressing – Splendid Table
Pantry Check: lemon, Dijon mustard, shallot, poppy seeds, honey or maple syrup, turnips, watercress, radishes, asparagus, chives

Dinner Ideas:

Swiss Chard Pancakes – Smitten Kitchen
Pantry Check: milk, AP Flour, eggs, onion, chives, shallot, garlic, parsley, chard, yogurt (optional)

Creamed Chard and Spring Onions – Smitten Kitchen
Pantry Check: swiss chard, onions, butter, AP flour, milk

Green Chickpea & Chicken Curry w/ Swiss Chard – The Crepes of Wrath (apologies in advance for that page being VERY heavy with photos. It takes forever to load completely on the iPad I use in the kitchen, but I promise the recipe is worth it!)
Pantry Check: chicken thighs, shallots, green curry paste, chili paste, ginger, coconut milk, chickpeas, swiss chard

Kale Puree (which you can use in nearly anything) – Edible Manhattan (they suggest using it in a polenta, but I love it as an alternative to tomato sauce on pasta)
Pantry Check: garlic, kale, sea salt (Maldon, ideally), extra-virgin olive oil. That’s it, really!

 

Bonus: Maple-Butter Collard Greens!  This is my favorite way to enjoy collards, and doesn’t require anything you don’t probably already have in your pantry. If you haven’t tried them before, give this recipe a shot! Chop collards roughly and discard stems. Slice a yellow onion and cook over medium heat in a large pan with a little olive oil until they start to caramelize. Add your collards and a splash of water — you want enough water to keep the collards from burning in a dry pan, but not so much that you’re boiling or braising them. Continue cooking over medium heat for about 15 minutes. When greens are tender, set the greens aside in a bowl and wipe out the pan. Add the following to the pan over medium-high heat:  2 Tbs butter, 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbs maple syrup (the real stuff!). Cook while stirring, until the combined and slightly reduced to make a sauce. You can either put this on the table in a small gravy pitcher, or toss the collards in the pan with the sauce before serving. This makes 2-3 servings of sauce, but you may want more.
Pantry Check: apple cider vinegar, butter, maple syrup (REAL maple syrup!)

Extra-Bonus: Magic Sauce – 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