Putting A Face To Your Food
There are many great things about summer that we all can universally enjoy. One of them is our local farmers market. Not many could argue that this open air, fresh, locally-grown shopping experience is not a real treat on an early Saturday morning.
Meeting the growers and learning their back story is just part of the appeal of the fresh market to me. I take a measure of comfort knowing that my beans were grown in fields I have driven by myself and freshly picked and packed. This is not always possible in the non-growing months but when it is I really take advantage of it!
Saturday Morning Ritual
Going to the market is somewhat of a summer tradition in my family and in the last few years, many winter markets have also cropped up all over central Indiana.
Being from Bloomington, Indiana where one of the largest and best organized markets in the area is held weekly, I was excited at the emergence of a market several years ago here in Greenwood.
Most recently, my son and I made an early Saturday morning trip specifically to get corn. I was really in the mood for some fresh, sweet corn but I thought it may have been too early. I was pleasantly surprised when I immediately found a stand selling great corn – at a great price to boot!
We wandered from booth to booth, tasting jams and salsa, taking pictures of beautiful green beans, meeting new people and making several purchases. When all was said and done, I bought blueberries, a cantaloupe, a bag of greens, green onions, a loaf of bread, a dozen zucchini, a large bunch of basil, and 2 large heirloom tomatoes.
What I really love is that this is something that my family likes to do together. I sometimes give each of my kids five dollars each and let them buy whatever looks good to them. Sometimes you can tell how hungry they are or what they are in the mood for by what ends up in their bags.
Once, one of them bought a dozen sticks of honey. When I asked why he said because they looked pretty in the little glass they were displayed in. Or my oldest, always on the hunt for apples, will buy way more that we can eat in 2 weeks. All for his five dollar bill. Getting the family involved in this experience has really broadened their horizons as well as shined a light on the importance of ‘eating where you live’.
Seasonal Summer Salad
What I decided to make from the treasures I purchased from the market was a salad that alone makes a wonderful side or light lunch, but with the addition of cooked grains and a little chicken or smoked salmon is a fantastic dinner!
Whole grains plus a generous amount of berries, means that this salad is loaded with antioxidants and potassium. Use what you have. I had quinoa on my salad and the rest of my family had brown rice. If you have a little leftover meat, that would be great on this as well.
Farmers Market Salad with Fresh Lemon Basil Dressing
- 2 cups cooked grains of your choice (wild rice, brown rice, quinoa or couscous)
- 1/2 cup sliced green onions
- 4 cups mixed salad greens (I used a mix of romaine, bibb, spinach and red lettuce)
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1 cup cantaloupe, cubed
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, yellow and red if you have them, sliced in half
- 1 small zucchini, sliced into thin ribbons
- 1/2 cup walnut peices, optional
- 2 cups cooked meat of your choice (we used salmon and chicken), optional
- garnish with fresh herbs (I used basil, flat leaf parsley and mint), optional
- 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- coarse salt/fresh pepper to taste
- For dressing, in a blender or small food processor, combine basil, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, pinch of salt and fresh pepper. Cover and puree until smooth. Set aside.
- In a small bowl stir together the cooked grains and green onions. Stir in about 2 tablespoons of the dressing to coat. Set aside.
- For the salad, line a large shallow bowl with the greens. Top the greens with the grain mixture, blueberries, cantaloupe, tomatoes, zucchini, walnuts and if desired the meat choice. Drizzle with half of the remaining dressing and toss gently. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and add more dressing as needed.