Springtime at the Market

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Although the calendar says “late April,” winter has been reluctant to leave us this year. But at least the farmer’s market is here to reassure us that spring really is on the way.

How do you know spring has sprung? Because, in addition to our reliable root staples, at you’ll find a variety of spring greens at the market to help reclaim your sanity after our loooong winter.

Spring veggies also inspire lighter meals with easy preparation. Some spring greens are delicate and tender, and require a light touch with dressing – perhaps just a touch of olive oil and a spritz of lemon juice.  Greens like arugula are spicy or even bitter, and are great paired with a contrasting flavor – a sweet dressing or fruit, or something rich and robust, such as bacon or chicken thighs.

The recipes below combine spring greens with other market staples that you should be able to find this week.

Breakfast

Make-ahead, freezer-friendly spinach feta breakfast wrap (lots of ways to switch up the ingredients here).

Use fresh mint from the market in a pineapple, arugula and Macadamia nut smoothie. (You can sub almonds – buy them in bulk at Common Ground Grocery.)

Salad for breakfast? Absolutely! This savory “breakfast buddha bowl” features springtime asparagus, greens, avocado, and a fresh egg.

Skipping the greens? Thomas Keller’s BLT fried egg-and-cheese sandwich is probably just as good without the tomato (patience, readers! The tomatoes are coming). You could always top with some locally-made salsa.

Oatmeal is always a winner, especially with local maple syrup (or “sirup“!).

How about savory oatmeal with greens and yogurt? (Here’s an overnight oats version.)

You could definitely top breakfast fried rice with chopped greens (look for Illinois-grown Cahokia rice at Green Top Grocery).

WHOLE WHEAT PANCAKES. (Or waffles, which freeze and reheat well in the toaster.) You’ll find locally grown wheat at the market from Ackerman Farms and Funk’s Grove pancake mix at Green Top Grocery.

And sausage, spinach, and apple breakfast sandwiches are a nice twist on the usual egg-based breakfast sandwich.

Lunch

Arugula and carrot salad with walnuts and cheese (you could also add another protein, like chick peas or chicken).

Green gazpacho is portable and healthy.

Just in case you want something without greens: roasted carrot soup (so many variations!).

Avocado, arugula and walnut sandwiches would be great on a hearty local bread (add ham or bacon if you’re a carnivore).

Dinner

Days are getting warmer, but nights are still chilly. I like the idea of this white bean and vegetable bowls with “frizzled” eggs (topped with fresh greens, of course!). That’s something that would come together quickly on a weeknight after work.

It’s time to fire up the grill again. Make grilled chicken with arugula and chick peas (think of the leftovers!).

Use this green harissa as a marinade, a sauce, or a condiment.

Root veggies shine in this potato and arugula salad (Smitten Kitchen adds lentils, swaps greens for parsley).

Is anything more welcome than spring herbs? Check out these options for herb-based sauces that you can put on virtually anything.

And remember, everyone – this is just the beginning! See you at the indoor market this weekend, and at the OPENING DAY of the 2018 outdoor market on Saturday, May 5 at the square in downtown Bloomington!

 

 

A December Market Menu!

It’s time for the December Indoor Market, and a special edition of the Market Menu!

The indoor market is held at the Grossinger Arena in downtown Bloomington. Use the Front St. entrance for the December market; the vendors will be in the space just inside those doors, by the concessions. Free parking is available around the corner by the Pepsi ice center, or across the street.

The following vendors are expected to attend:

Above Normal Eggs – organically fed, free range, on pasture chicken AND duck eggs
Ackerman Certified Organic Farm & More – greens, herbs, and Brussel sprouts
Bauer Crops & Cattle – beef
Browns Fresh Produce – produce and popcorn
C & B Apiaries
Central Illinois Bakehouse – breads and pastries, including German stollen
Cracked Up Pottery
Dearing Country Farms – eggs
Destiny Meats – pork
Grani’s Acres, LLC
Grandpa Bill’s Gluten Free Bread – gluten-free gingerbread and cookies!
Herbonita Soap Company, Inc.
Huelskoetter Pork – pork sausage, pork burgers, and more
Ludwig Farmstead Creamery
Pollen and Pastry – cookies, candy, and pastries
PrairiErth Farm – root vegetables, cabbages, fennel, leeks, wellness products
Smoothis Natural Skincare
Trimble’s Produce Farm
Umland’s Pure Dry Cheese

The variety of meat, dairy, and produce available through the winter is pretty amazing right now! Here are just a few recipes that feature some of the items available at the December market:

 

Breakfast wheat berry bowl – if you want to save some time, I bet these would cook up superquick in the Instant Pot! (also: wondering about wheat berries? Check out this post on The Spruce).

Roasted root vegetables with rosemary

Perfect one-pan mashed potatoes (made even more delicious with the use of chicken or duck fat!)

Charred chicken with sweet potatoes and oranges

Colcannon – a sort of potato / leek / cabbage mash (with cream and butter)

Sweet potato rolls – gorgeous little puffs made with sweet potato in addition to flour

Sweet potato pancakes (latkes)

Beet and feta burgers – this recipe uses grated beets, so any size will do

Winter eggs – cooked in a ramekin with bread cubes, walnuts and sage

 

A Legit Local Thanksgiving

 

Late November often finds us slogging through cold, damp and dark days – hardly the kind of weather that says “bountiful vegetables.”

already thinking about morning-after-thanksgiving fry-ups.

AND YET, thanks to our farmers, the onset of cold weather hasn’t dimmed the wide variety of fresh veggies available to us in central Illinois.  You’ll find greens, lettuces, carrots, potatoes and tons of other root veggies, Brussels sprouts, squashes, fresh herbs – and every year, a couple of vendors work some kind of voodoo and bring along some tomatoes that were picked green and slowly ripened on a window sill or something (get there early for those. You’re already pining for fresh tomatoes, aren’t you? Me too).

 

Beyond fresh produce, you’ll always find plenty of eggs, meat (even turkeys!), cheeses, dried peppers, dried herbs, breads, cakes and pies.

Basically, the market has everything you need for a great Thanksgiving meal – all fresh, local, and grown just for you! The Thanksgiving Market’s Facebook event page has a list of this year’s vendors.

Plenty of must-make Thanksgiving dishes are really quite simple – mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, piles of veggies. But fresh, local veggies are going to elevate any dish you serve.

In the Legit Local spirit, Steph and I wanted to bring you some ideas for helping keep Thanksgiving simple so you can enjoy yourself and, of course, eat well.

 

rosemary and thyme frozen mid-summer, to be thawed for compound butter. 

Prep Ahead, Hands-Off Cooking

 

How to juggle all those dishes? I can personally vouch for this approach to make-ahead mashed potatoes. Serious Eats also has some helpful ideas.

Also, if you’re making a traditional mashed potato, be sure to select a variety that is suited for that preparation. The most popular variety of mashing potato in the U.S. is the russet, but keep your eye out for types like Purple Viking. It’s purple on the outside but bright white inside, and it’s delicious. A strategy for freeing up stove and oven space is to cook stuffing in the slow cooker.

 

No Tofurky Needed 

The farmers at the market will give you wonderful options for sides that double as hearty meals for meatless eaters. Martha has a bunch of creative dishes that are vegetarian- friendly – I’m really into this roasted squash with shallots, grapes and sage.

Simple veggie sides can round out your meal without being too terribly complicated. Roast some carrots with balsamic vinegar. Parmesan-roasted cauliflower will introduce some adventure onto the table but won’t scare the in-laws.

People swear up and down that they dislike Brussels sprouts – until they have them roasted with balsamic vinegar (I never bother with the pancetta/bacon and it’s still great) or tossed in a quick sauté with (I KID YOU NOT) chopped pistachios – I promise, this is another dish that I often I bring, people look at suspiciously, try it, and then devour.

Feeling Fancy? I am eyeing up this butternut squash and leek bread pudding because… bread pudding.

Family Favorites

A Thanksgiving without sweet potatoes? In many households, that is unthinkable, so here are a few ideas:

Sweet Potato Casserole

Healthier Sweet Potato Casserole Options

Yes, Make the Salad!

I know what you’re saying: no one goes to Thanksgiving dinner to eat salad. Except me. (And I love ALL the Thanksgiving trimmings!) But most of the meal is typically so rich that I always crave something to balance it out – especially a fresh, raw salad. One that I’ve made and served for years is a roasted beet, orange, and arugula salad. And, yes – beets. Every year I bring or serve some version of this signature salad to dinner (because I’m selfish – I want to eat it!) and there are never, ever leftovers.

What’s more traditional for Thanksgiving than pumpkin pie? Here is how to instantly up your pie game: use fresh pumpkin. (Well, not instantly…it takes a bit more work, but it will be worth it.)

You’ll find local grains at the market, too – cornbread muffins, anyone? (I am thinking of leftover muffins with coffee on Friday morning, schmeared with jam.) Plenty of you out there make cornbread stuffing, too (there’s two links there – one for a “healthy” stuffing and the other…somewhat less so!).

Outside of the market itself, Common Ground Grocery and Green Top Grocery have what you need to complete meal prep, including additional groceries, spices, and local grains. Baking? Check out Decorator’s Grocery on Linden Street.

leeks!

Buy some veggies for later… 

OK…so here are some thoughts for the weekend AFTER Thanksgiving, when you’re going to be on a roll with great food, but maybe you need to counter the richness of that meal with a few days of simple and delicious options. How about:

Turnip, leek and potato soup

Spinach salad with seared shiitake mushrooms

Green salad with orange and avocado

Red leaf lettuce with roasted sweet potatoes

 

Got leftover turkey? Pair it with some wonderful root veggies in this turkey soup with root vegetables.

Whatever your cooking plans, we at Legit Local wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving filled with local vegetables and other products from our local food producers. See you at the Market!

 

 

 

 

The LAST Market Menu of the (outdoor) season!

Welcome back, friends!

Fall is definitely here, and so is the end of a fantastic outdoor market season. (The indoor market season continues once every month at the Coliseum.)

The good news is: you get to start planning for the Thanksgiving Market! The first indoor market of the season is Saturday, November 18 – doors open at 10am at the Bloomington (Grossinger Motors) Coliseum.  It’s a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season, just in time to shop for Thanksgiving Day meals. Also, we’ll be putting out a special Market Menu just for Thanksgiving.

But for now, let’s make some plans on how you’re going to use the fantastic local veggies you’ll find at THIS week’s market. The colder weather has us thinking of comfort foods to take away the chill, and easy and/or hands-off recipes that let you maximize your time away from the kitchen this week.

I’ve been doing a lot of shopping in the bulk isle, especially for beans, lentils, and other hearty proteins. Green Top Grocery and Common Grounds Natural Foods both have well-stocked bulk aisles – it’s a great place to experiment with new-to-you proteins and grains. Last night I needed a quick dinner that wouldn’t involve takeout and spied a jar of dried yellow split peas in my pantry. Pea soup! I sautéed what I had on hand in the pressure cooker pot: some onions, celery, and a couple of carrots, all diced. I added two diced potatoes and two cups of yellow split peas along with 8 cups of water and broth. I had some roasted tomatoes from the summer in the freezer (a can of tomatoes of any type would also work), so I added those along with a bay leaf. Put the top on, locked it, brought it to pressure and cooked for 30 minutes. Once the pressure released I opened the lid to see a velvety soup – that was dinner! We loved it.

My point is: it doesn’t take much to make a great, hearty soup – some beans, lentils, or split peas, some version of mirepoix, choose a spice profile, and add in whatever other veggies you’ve got on the counter (chunks of potato or diced squash) or in the fridge (add spinach, kale, or collard greens at the end, right before serving).

The following recipes can all be made in a slow cooker, instant pot/pressure cooker, or on the stove top. If you’re accustomed to dried green split peas, you might give yellow ones a try – they’ve got a milder, somewhat sweeter flavor and I think they cook just a bit faster. If you have a pressure cooker, they cook in 30 minutes or less. Like any bean or lentil, there are a gazillion flavor profiles you can choose from for a hearty, delicious soup:

Turkish split pea soup

French Canadian split pea soup

Moroccan split pea soup with Za’atar

Vegan split pea soup (slow cooker) 

Not a split pea fan? Plenty of options for your final outdoor farmer’s market meals.

Vegetarian chili with butternut squash and avocado

Pork carnitas (this would do just fine in a slow cooker)

Corn, chicken and poblano chowder (in the pressure cooker/instant pot)

Pumpkin chicken curry (in the slow cooker!)

And SQUASHES! We wait all year for these. Have you tried…

Stuffed butternut squash (meatless)

Stuffed butternut squash with sausage

Here are a plethora of spaghetti squash ideas…

Roasted delicata squash with pomegranate and arugula

Late fall salads are also on my radar. You’ll find lots of wonderful greens at the market this week – and try thinking outside the “greens salad” box (though I never get tired of a great greens salad!):

Shaved cauliflower salad

Radicchio and fennel panzanella

Za’atar sweet potatoes and kale

Fennel celery salad with walnuts (and blue cheese, or sub feta, etc.)

Kohlrabi Caesar

Spiced pumpkin, lentil and goat cheese salad

Collard greens and radishes with crispy shallots

Classic spinach salad

Arugula salad with apples and pecans

Did you really think you’d get past this last post of the outdoor season without a kale salad recipe?

I skipped ahead…these are great recipes for lunches or dinners. What about breakfast?

It’s hot cereal season! (Think add-ins: nuts and seeds from the bulk aisle; fresh local apples from the market.) Also:

STILL MY FAVORITE MUFFINS

A pumpkin muffin for you pumpkin spice lovers out there..

From both of us at Legit Local, we thank you for spending this outdoor farmer’s market season with us. See you at the market! — Steph and Jenn