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My friend Janet Hawkins Moore is eating local during the month of January (in Boise, Idaho…not as easy as some more temperate climates). Looking at her first day’s post, it looks like a delicious initiative.

When I first saw Janet’s  post about eating local, I thought “Good idea, and since I already do a lot of local shopping, it won’t be hard”. But, I’m realizing it takes a lot more planning than I anticipated, at least in the beginning.

And, since I didn’t want to rock the boat too much on New Year’s Day, I simply monitored my normal eating (we had some great food yesterday…including leftover cake for breakfast and spicy shrimp for dinner! Yeehaw!) Turns out, only about 20% of the ingredients I used were local (fresh pasta, local milk, local honey) and although I buy organic vegetables from Brown Box Organics and The Boise Co-op, I’m not actually sure if they are locally grown.

So…this will be a learning adventure.

The Plan: Eat entirely local one day per week this month. Observe and chronicle my observations and learnings.

Stay posted! This week’s local day is Thursday. I’ll post my first “findings” then.

Happy New Year!

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The Farmer’s Market usually inspires me to try new recipes or spend a little extra time in the kitchen. But some nights, I need a meal that is fast, easy, healthy and inexpensive. It’s nice to know that I can find the ingredients for those types of meals at the Farmer’s Market.

I added 2 Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon fillets (from Costco’s 3lb bag) and one lemon to my “market basket” and ended up with all the ingredients needed for a quick meal. The meal took 35 minutes to prepare, cost $4.25 per serving  for 4 nice size dinner portions, and resulted in very few dirty dishes. Now that’s a perfect quick meal.

Weeknight Pasta

2 Salmon fillets

1 lemon

1 lb fresh pasta

4 large handfuls spinach

8oz delicious sauce

+ salt, pepper, and olive oil

1) Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place a few spinach leaves on a large piece of aluminum foil, then top with salmon fillets in a single layer. Generously season with salt and pepper, add thin slices of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil . Fully enclose salmon in foil and bake 18-20 minutes in oven, until cooked through. This technique  is “en papillote”. To read more about en papillotte, and to get really hungry, read this article from the NY Times. The nice thing about en papillote is that it keeps the fish moist and flavorful AND there is no messy pan. What more could a busy gal want?

2) Heat pasta  water to a boil

3) Cut the spinach in to long shreds

4) When the salmon is just out of the oven, add the pasta to the boiling water. Fresh pasta cooks in 2-3 minutes. 

5) Drain pasta and immediately return to the pot. Add sauce and spinach. The sauce and spinach will warm and wilt slightly from the heat of the pasta.

6) Divide pasta in to 4 bowls, flake salmon on top. Serve.

Last Saturday was the 2011 season opener at the Capital City Farmer’s Market in downtown Boise. It was good to see several familiar vendors, like the man from the Almond Tree, whose reliable presence and stoic stance make him a familiar fixture. Susan and I always swing past his table for a sample, and he often greets us by wryly commenting, “These aren’t very good, you know.” His crunchy, candied almonds top my first salad of spring.

This year Susan and I have a mission. We’ll shop the farmer’s market on Saturday, purchase the same foods, then compare what each of us does with the ingredients. This week we selected fresh beet greens, candied almonds, organic leeks, wedges of Petite Basque (an aged sheep’s milk cheese), and the “Southern” dried seasoning blend from Molly’s Mills.

I opted to create the obvious: Soothing bowls of leek-miso soup to counteract chilly springtime breezes, and a tender beet green salad with a simple dressing made using freshly squeezed orange juice and tangy orange zest. The following recipes will make two salads and two small bowls of soup. Add a loaf of crusty bread (fresh from the market, of course) to round out the meal.

Organic leeks

2 small leeks, split lengthwise, rinsed and cut into ¼ inch slices

1 TBL butter

1 ½ cups water

2 TBL white miso

Dash of salt

Melt butter in medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Pour water into pan. Add miso. Heat until almost simmering. Do not boil. Maintain gentle heat and allow to steep while preparing the salad. Before serving, season to taste with a dash or two of salt.

Beet green salad:

1 bunch beet greens

1 Fuji apple, cored and diced

1 small wedge Petite Basque cheese, cut into small dice.

A handful or two of candied almonds

Wash and tear beet greens. Divide between two salad bowls. Top each with half the diced apple, half the cheese, and a handful of almonds.

Leek-miso soup and beet green salad

1 large orange

About ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ tsp Molly’s Mills “Southern” seasoning (smoked garlic, dried lime, sea salt, rainbow pepper)

Using a microplane grater, zest half the orange. Place zest in a glass one-cup measure. Juice the orange; pour into one-cup measure with zest. Measure juice, then add half the amount of olive oil (you should have 2 parts orange juice, 1 part olive oil). Add Southern seasoning. Adjust taste. Pour over salad.

Jen and I met at the Farmer’s Market today. (you’ll know why she ditched me and our normal Saturday morning 9am exercise when her Boise Weekly blog post goes live on Tuesday–I’ll post the link then). I picked up all kinds of goodies, and when I got home, combined some of the organic stuff I already had in my frig with the Farmer’s Market finds and made a delicious avocado dressing. I will serve over a shaved zucchini and radish salad this evening (yes…multi-colored radishes from the market). 

I think the dressing would also be great with grilled veggies, or perhaps with shrimp tacos.

Avocado Dressing

2/3 of a large shallot sliced

2 Tbs white wine vinegar

Handful of fresh herbs (used parsley and mint from the garden)

2 Tbs Greek Yogurt

1 avocado

1/2 cup water

Tiger Sauce (to taste, I used 2-3 tsps, maybe even a little more)

salt and freshly ground pepper

3/4 cup canola oil (little more if needed for consistency)

Slice shallots, soak in vinegar for 5-10 minutes. Place shallots, vinegar and all ingredients through water in to blender. Blend, season with tiger sauce, salt and pepper. Stream in canola oil. Adjust seasoning. Refrigerate.