Farmers markets are becoming more popular and prevalent all over the country and when in season are the best place to buy vegetables and fruits that are locally grown. Many other types of foods and goods are also being sold at these markets and with a little thought and guidance, your trip to the market can be fun and fruitful as well.
I love buying my vegetables at the farmers market! Here are my top reasons why!
- The freshest vegetables in season.
- Because they are so fresh they last longer at home.
- Finding out where and how the vegetables are grown.
- Getting some good deals on vegetables with slight blemishes.
- Supporting our local small farmers.
- Many of the vegetables and fruits are pesticide-free, make sure you ask.
Here are some tips for finding the best deals and using the vegetables once you get home.
- Walk the market and compare prices before you buy. Often the best deals are on the fringes of the market in the smaller stands.
- Look for small or imperfect vegetables and fruits they are often marked down and if you plan to cut them up and cook them then it won’t matter if they are the not the perfect size or have some small blemishes.
- Alternatively, if you are seeking the best perfect produce go early to get the first picks.
- However, if you shop at the closing time you can sometimes find good markdowns because the farmers don’t want to take all of the vegetables back to there farms.
- Resist the emotion of getting caught in the moment and buying vegetables or fruits that you don’t know how to cook or won’t cook when you get home. Beets is my example. I don’t like them even though they are cheap and very healthful.
- Make sure you cook them properly and season them accordingly once you use them at home.
Pattypan, summer squash and zucchini cook quickly when sauteed. To mix them with other vegetables such as green beans or carrots in a sautee application it is best to first pre-cook the other vegetables by steaming or boiling them and then stopping the cooking (shocking) of the vegetables by chilling them in ice water. To prepare a tasty medley of these vegetables sautee them with minced shallots in butter or olive oil and then finish them with sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, and chopped fresh basil.
Using the abundant amounts of vegetables once they are harvested before they go bad has been an issue since ancient times. Preparing vegetable soups is one way to use them and they can also be frozen for use later in the year. Here is one of my recipes for a delicious cream of tomato soup. This recipe was previously published in the Missouri Life magazine. Use imperfect tomatoes which are cheaper and plentiful later in the season at your local farmers market. For an extra special garnish top with whipped goat cheese and crunchy croutons. To see the article and learn more about tomatoes go to page 71 of the Missouri Life issue found at the following link- https://issuu.com/missourilifemagazine/docs/ml0817lr
Cream of Tomato Fennel Soup
By Chef Daniel Pliska
Yield: 6 cups
2 pounds Tomatoes cut in quarters
1 cup Red Bell Peppers large diced
½ cup Yellow Onions, large diced
½ cup Leeks, white part only, rinsed well and large diced
½ cup Celery, large diced
1 cup Fennel, large diced
1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons Olive oil
3 Tablespoons All-purpose flour
½ cup White wine
2 Tablespoons Tomato paste
6 cups Water or Chicken Broth
1 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Sugar
½ cup Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Chives chopped
To Taste Salt and pepper
Olive oil for roasting the tomatoes and bell peppers
- Toss the quartered tomatoes and bell peppers in a small amount of olive oil
- Roast for 30 minutes at 400 F
- Sauté the onions, leeks, celery, fennel, and garlic in three tablespoons olive oil
- Add the flour and stir in
- Add the white wine
- Add the roasted tomatoes and bell peppers
- Add the water or chicken broth, balsamic vinegar and sugar
- Bring to a light boil and skim off the scum and reduce to a simmer
- Cook for 1 hour while skimming off any scum
- Puree in a blender and return to the pot and cook 30 minutes
- Strain and add ½ cup of cream, and continue to cook until the right consistency is met.
- Add the chopped herbs, season with salt and pepper if needed and serve.
For more ways and tips for preparing vegetables, go to my previous post, On cooking vegetables- 7 tips! Enjoy and live well!