Farmers’ Market Season
At the beginning of the summer we invited our readers to share a family recipe using fresh local produce. Below we’re highlighting 13 submissions our readers posted, featuring local produce often bought fresh from our farmers’ markets and road side stands! Get inspired and thinking about how you can use locally grown fresh produce for your family dinner!
Kat Allen of Northampton writes: I’m not a great cook, and my husband and I don’t have much time, but we do try hard get our family eating well and to have family dinner each night and we’ve landed on something that works well for us… On a day when we do have some time, we’ll cook up a big load of veggies in a little bit olive oil – usually in a big pan on the stove, sometimes on the grill outside. When possible we’ll get our kids involved in picking out the veggies (at our CSA, at the farmers’ market, or at the grocery store), and chopping up the veggies (a two-handled rocking knife and some clear instructions makes it safe even for our 6-year old).
Then we use these veggies in a bunch of easy, quick ways throughout the week:
- Throw it on top of whole wheat pasta – with red sauce, pesto, or just plain
- Put it on the table with beans, cheese, and whole wheat burrito or taco shells for make-your-own burritos or tacos
- Use it as a side dish with rice and beans (when in a real rush I buy prepared rice and beans at the Greenfield Coop) or chicken and rice (sometimes I buy a cooked rotisserie chicken)
- Throw it on top of a pizza crust (prepared or homemade crust)
- Mix it in a pan with eggs and milk and call it an eggs bake
- Throw it in a pie crust (I use the prepared, roll-out kind) with eggs and milk and call it a quiche
Finally, we just throw some fresh fruit, raw veggies and milk in lunch boxes with these dinner left-overs when we pack lunches each day – viola – meals for a week!
Sandra Dias of Holyoke writes: This is a simple dish, but it’s tasty. I like to slice zucchini and yellow summer squash quite thin, mix it with some extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle it with grated asiago cheese, then bake it for a half an hour at 375F. We make this simple veggie side dish every summer on our annual trip to Cape Cod and everyone seems to love it.
Becky Castro of Northampton writes: We love fresh salads with baby spring greens topped in a warm garlic dressing… First, gather up your greens: my little ones used to love picking baby spinach, mescalin leaves, and dandelion leaves out of our garden (what ever you have growing works perfectly). Nowadays, I go to the farmers market and use whatever is in season. I still use the dandelion leaves from my yard as they are plentiful!! Then make a bowl full of greens.
Top it off with this dressing:
- 1 head of garlic roasted or finely chopped
- 3 T olive oil
- 2T balsamic vinegar
- 1T lime juice
- 1/8 salt
- 1 med. shallot, finely chopped
Squeeze the roasted garlic into a pan. Add oil, vinegar, lime juice, shallot, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until the shallot is softened, like 3-5 minutes. Pour the dressing on top of the greens until coated. You can also add pine nuts and goat cheese. (Once summer and fall come, add kale and beet greens. I have not tried mustard greens or swiss chard but bet they would taste yummy.). Thankfully, both of my kids love garlic and always have.
Miranda Marks of Northampton writes: When I was young, I remember standing knee-deep in rich soil, watching my mom and dad dig, plant and pull up weeds. By the end of the summer, my mom would send us out to pick tomatoes straight off the vine, and basil so fresh I could smell it as soon as I stepped out of the door.- Before my dad died after one of those sun-soaked summers, I was always focused on picking, planting and eating fresh foods. – Last year was the first time I made my own garden, and those hazy memories came back to life. One of my favorite recipes is the classic Italian Caprese, tomatoes, basil, olive oil and mozzarella. – This summer, I can’t wait to eat tomatoes that smell so good your mouth waters.
Ellen Moriarty of Hampden writes: Our family loves veggie pizza on the grill all summer! It has been so much fun for my daughters Hannah and Gracie to work together to create awesome tasting & healthy pizzas. Hannah is our self taught, in-house dough expert. Gracie kicks it into high gear pretending she is an Italian pizza chef. She has the apron, the hat & the accent!
- Begin with your favorite pizza dough and roll it out.
- Brush one side with olive oil & sprinkle with salt and pepper, grill for a couple of minutes. Brush the top side with olive oil and flip.
- You can pre-grill some of the veggies, we like our crunchy so we start piling them on.
- Tomatoes, onions, peppers, broccoli, spinach, summer squash, carrots, cucumbers, garlic and your favorite cheese. Cook for a few minutes & enjoy.
Gracie says, “We’re eating a rainbow!” We really enjoyed our fresh, colorful, local veggies from C&C farm last year. Ciao Bella!
Beryl Hoffman of Florence writes: We often make a crustless quiche, and it tastes great with local fresh vegetables in the summer. You can add any vegetables to this recipe — we usually put in spinach and zucchini. And sometimes even my son will try it!
- some veggies: 1 zucchini shredded, a couple handfuls of spinach, etc.
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 3 eggs
- salt to taste
- 1/2 cup milk
- some grated cheese (cheddar works well) blended in and some on top
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until golden on top. Enjoy!
Jackie MacNeish of Ashfield writes: One summer, my grandmother planted a garden full of nothing but basil, garlic and tomotoes. I remember being confused in the beginning of this garden why it only had three ingredients. Later, when we harvested our first batch of each, my grandmother lined the grandkids up in the kitchen and gave us each a task: wash, peel, chop, slice, puree. I was the washer usually! The kitchen would start to smell of mouth-watering pesto. We’d have pesto pasta that night for dinner, but we’d also have frozen pesto to last for the rest of the year! Yum!
Emily Hindle of Florence writes: Being a new family, we don’t have any long-standing recipes, but we do have a newfound favorite. My now three-year-old son used to refuse all things vegetable. It seemed to me like he could sense them in pasta sauce and refuse his favorite tortellini when I served it on top. Last year, when he was a stubborn two year old, I was determined to find SOME vegetable that he would eat. After spending countless hours reading cookbooks and searching online for new and not too adventurous recipes, I found a suggestion for vegetable pancakes. Aha! This recipe gets bonus points because our 18 month old also loves it! Below is the recipe I follow. It is cobbled together from the few we tried, and customized based on what we have on hand.
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- a small shake of salt
In a separate bowl, mix together:
- 1 cup of fresh shredded veggies. Past favorites include carrots, zucchini, broccoli and squash. You can also mix and match 1/2 c of two different veggies.
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup whole milk (start with 1/4, add in more if needed at the end)
Mix the two bowls together, shape into patties, then fry in a thin layer of vegetable oil.
This will only be our second year making this new family recipe, but I think it’s safe to call it one now because we make it almost weekly!
Ruth von Goeler of Northampton: For me, so many spring vegetables are about the thrill of eating something fresh from the garden after a long winter: sugar snap peas plucked straight from the vine, fresh spring salad greens and crisp asparagus, eaten raw like a whole carrot. Grilled asparagus is the exception…in our family we count the spears to make sure we are all getting our fair share. - The recipe is simple: one or more bunches of asparagus sprinkled with some olive oil and a generous amount of chopped garlic cloves and sea salt all cooked on the grill a few minutes until they just start to look bright green and start to loose a bit of their rigidity. Delicious!
Christa Figueroa writes: My Nana had a big family of ten children and a passion for baking. She had her own garden and one of the family favorites was strawberry rhubarb pie. Of course everything was fresh and made from scratch. I think it tasted better because of the love she had for all of us. Nana always served her food with a huge smile and anticipation to see how much we all enjoyed eating the pie. – Here’s a recipe combined from two separate recipes from The American Woman’s Cook Book from 1950. This is one that most housewives got as a wedding gift. It has everything from packing lunches to setting the table for a dinner party!
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
- 1 cup sugar 1/8 tsp salt 1 egg, beaten
- 3 Tbsp flour or cornstarch 2 cups rhubarb cut into small pieces
- 3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled 1 Tbsp butter 1 recipe Plain Pastry
- cinnamon & sugar for garnish
Mix sugar, cornstarch, & salt. Add egg & beat thoroughly. Add rhubarb & strawberries. Line piepan w/pastry, add filling, dot with butter and cover with top crust or lattice and bake at 425 degress for 10min. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 30-35min. longer. Remove pie from oven, brush with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar. (1 recipe Plain Pastry makes 2 crusts) You can use your own favorite for this.
Kristen Rhodes of Leeds writes: Spinach Smoothies – I originally made these for St Patrick’s Day as a green food (with no food coloring) option. The whole family loved them. My 3 and 4 year old ask for these almost every morning and they are sooo much better with fresh, local spinach, honey and strawberries! Serves 3-4
- 1 orange
- 6 strawberries
- 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
- 1/2 banana
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 cup ice cubes
- Sweeten with raw local honey to taste
Add ingredients in the order listed to keep the blender from getting stuck and add the spinach a handful at a time. Blend until smooth. – This is a quick, healthy, and delicious way to start the day (and the extra half of a banana keeps the kids busy while you make it).
Kate Erickson of Southampton writes: In the summer we dine almost exclusively on the fresh vegetables in our area, they are so delicious and my oldest daughter just loves to help prepare fresh food. We call this receipe our Summer Vegetable Sandwich, and it tastes just perfect on a hot summer night when we eat out on the porch!
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 3 cloves garlic, minced1 tablespoon lemon juice1/8 cup olive oil
- 1 cup sliced red bell peppers
- 1 small zucchini, sliced
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 1 small yellow squash, sliced
- 2 (4-x6-inch) focaccia bread pieces, split horizontally (Bread Euphoria makes the BEST!)
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- In a bowl, mix the mayonnaise, minced garlic, and lemon juice. Set aside in the refrigerator.
- Preheat the grill for high heat.
- Brush vegetables with olive oil on each side. Brush grate with oil. Place bell peppers and zucchini closest to the middle of the grill, and set onion and squash pieces around them. Cook for about 3 minutes, turn, and cook for another 3 minutes. The peppers may take a bit longer. Remove from grill, and set aside.
- Spread some of the mayonnaise mixture on the cut sides of the bread, and sprinkle each one with feta cheese. Place on the grill cheese side up, and cover with lid for 2 to 3 minutes. This will warm the bread, and slightly melt the cheese. Watch carefully so the bottoms don’t burn. Remove from grill, and layer with the vegetables. Enjoy as open faced grilled sandwiches.
We often pair this with cucumbers and sour cream, a recipe handed down from my grandmother, which we prepare by slicing local cukes up thinly, adding real sour cream and a couple splashes of red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. This alone often serves as a meal for my 4 yr old daughter! To drink we top it off with organic homemade mint ice tea that we use by letting the tea stand in the sun to brew and adding fresh mint leaves and lemon! Truly a delicious meal for summer time!
Dennis Thompson of Northampton write: Roasted Beet Salad. Take fresh beets, rinse off the dirt and use hands to coat with olive oil, then wrap the beets in an envelope of foil – crimping the edges to seal the envelope – and put envelope of beets in a 350 degree oven for an hour. Remove and let cool. When cool, remove beets from foil, rub peel off beets and slice into thin slices. Pour a drizzle of walnut oil over slices and top with crumbled blue cheese (or cherve if you like that better) and a sprinkling of walnuts. Enjoy! I never like beets until I discovered how roasting them brings out the sweetness. – Young children can help rub oil on the beets, rub the peel off the beets when they are cool, sprinkle the cheese and walnuts – and its extra fun to eat something so richly colorful.
Karin Perlman of Northampton writes: Most of my favorites revolve around those luscious late summer tomatoes. Here is one of several:
- Fresh tomatoes (a few different colors makes it even better) – chopped
- fresh garlic – minced or pressed (to taste)
- oil cured black olives – roughly chopped
- capers – rinsed and roughly chopped
- fresh basil – ripped or chopped into strips
- fresh parsley – finely or roughly chopped
- dash good olive oil
- dash balsamic vinegar
- optional: chopped fresh mozzarella
Mix everything together, taste and adjust if needed. Eat just like that, or spoon onto lightly grilled or toasted sliced of good bread and let the juices soak into the bread… for years now I have lived on various versions of this recipe for the month of August – as long as I belong to a CSA or garden that can keep me supplied with those lovely yummy tomatoes!
Tasha Anderson of South Hadley: Last year was the first year that we discovered garlic scapes. At the markets, I was drawn to their beautiful curly shapes, even though I had no idea what to do with them. My husband created this simple recipe the first time I brought them home (ingredient amounts are approximate) and it quickly became a family favorite.
- 1 box whole wheat pasta
- 2 bunches of garlic scapes
- 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
- 1/4 cup toasted almonds
- 1/4 cup pecorino romano
- olive oil
- Prepare pasta according to box directions.
- In a blender, combine garlic scapes, basil, almonds, and the pecorino romano. Add olive oil slowly, between pulses in blender, until desired consistency is reached.
- Combine pesto sauce with pasta and top with a few basil leaves. Enjoy!
Tony(a) Lemos of Ashfield writes: This recipe is best when made from fresh and tender beets! It became a family favorite having a “picky eater” so the recipe below and zuccini brownies became favs. I always add more veggies and less cacao than called for!
- 100g butter (softened)
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Dash of ground nutmeg
- 1 cup wholemeal flour
- 2 tbsp raw cacao powder and nibs
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup ground almonds
- 1 cup finely grated raw beetroot
Preheat fan oven to 180°C (200°C conventional).
- In a large bowl, mix together butter, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg.
- Mix in the flour and cocoa powder, then beat the eggs in one at a time.
- Fold in the ground almonds and the beetroot, mixing completely.
- Pour the mixture into a greased 20 x 20cm baking tray.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Leave in the tray for about 15 minutes before transporting to a wire rack to cool completely.
When cool, cut up into rectangles and enjoy!
Funding for Seasons at Our Table was made possible by a grant from the Massachusetts Woman’s Home Missionary Union, administered by the Parent Education Workgroup of the Communities That Care Coalition.