Cooking from the farmers market is a play in creativity. You plan to make your favorite recipe, but you never know what you’ll find. Maybe the recipe calls for sweet tomatoes, but a wet week rendered them a little watery. Can you leave them out? Could you substitute peaches instead? If the dairy vendor is sold out, and you wanted to make a creamy corn soup, can you use broth instead?
If this sounds daunting, relax. Cooking with local ingredients is almost fool-proof. All you need to keep this mind is this: If it Grows Together, it Goes Together.
Strawberries and Arugula. Cilantro and poblanos. Sweet potatoes and pecans. Foods that pair deliciously together seem to spring up from the ground at the same time. This rule extends beyond the plant kingdom. It Italy, local cheese like Mozzarella pairs with basil and tomatoes. In Greece, fennel goes with feta cheese (think ouzo). Spring lamb is amazing braised with spring vegetables, and the list goes on.
So if you trust Mother Nature, you’ll find that half the work of meal planning is done. Buy fresh, locally produced food, and mix and match. You’ll be surprised how well it all goes together.
I’ve had the privilege to work for two farmers market this season – the Pennington Farmers Market, and The
Forrestal Village Farmers Markets. These markets boast fantastic vendors and gems that are hard to find elsewhere. Just a few examples: bone broths made with local ingredients; naturally fermented sauerkraut; gluten-free baked goods made with nuts and beans flours; fresh mozzarella just made by Chef Jim Weaver. You can also find grass-fed milk, yogurt, eggs, local beef and pork, cheese, bread, fruits, and veggies. In short, everything you need for a meal. Sign up for the Pennington and Forrestal markets’ mailing lists for a weekly report on what’s available each week.
So grab your bags, your smartphone (for recipes ideas) and go to market. And don’t forget that Mother Nature has already done the flavor pairing for you.
Having said that. Here are recipes for a complete meal from the farmers market. For more ideas and advice, you can always drop me a note. I’ll be happy to help.