By: Andrea Westervelt
Farmers markets are back open around the country, and while it is so exciting to have access to fresh local produce and hand-crafted foods, sometimes it’s overwhelming to know how to turn that food into an actual dinner! My family shops at a LOT of farmers markets doing delicious research for Farmspread.com, so I have several go-to ideas when I come back with our market haul. Usually these are simple dinners too- easy enough I’ve made most of them in vacation home kitchens as well, and don’t feel like I’m slaving away. Today I’m sharing tips for farmer’s market meal planning.
I’m setting up this meal-plan to be really flexible: start out with the sort of dish you feel like eating tonight, and then the specific veggies or accessories can be customized based on what you found at the market and what you have at home. Click here to download and print this free handy farmer’s market meal guide to bring with you to the market: Farmer’s Market Meal Printable
Farmer’s Market Meal Planning
Is there an easier dinner basic than pasta?! Maybe your farmers market even has a fresh pasta vendor!
1. Summer veggie pasta- You can think of this recipe as “find any yummy veggies at the farmers market, saute them in a pan with some garlic and olive oil, and then toss them with some pasta and parmesan cheese” But if you need more detailed guidance, try this: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/rustic-summer-vegetable-pasta/
2. Pesto- As a kid, my mom would call pesto pasta “green spaghetti” and I thought it was delicious. There are so many pesto varieties, I love the classic basil, but try arugula, spinach or mint. https://boulderlocavore.com/25-unique-pesto-recipe-you-really-need-to-make/
3. Mac and cheese– So many great cheese varieties at the farmers market! And they often let you have samples! I would love a goat cheese mac, serve with a salad or just cut up veggies. https://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipe/mac–n–goat-cheese
4. Fresh tomato pasta– Around here there always seems to be a few weeks where there is a glut of tomatoes at the market- try this pasta to enjoy them. https://www.thespruceeats.com/fresh-tomato-pasta-recipe-481998
5. Seafood pasta- Does your farmers market have a seafood vendor? Lucky you! Or maybe you stop while on vacation and can’t resist buying the seafood caught just off the coast of where you are staying. Keep it simple with this seafood pasta: https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a22668142/seafood-pasta-recipe/
Everything tastes good between two slices of fresh-baked farmers market bread.
1. Burgers- Buy local ground beef, turkey or chicken, then top with some farmers market toppings: lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions etc. And there always seems to be a pickle vendor- try a few varieties and stock up on your favorite!
2. BLT- The heritage bacon and fresh bread are carrying the sandwich here- but local tomatoes and lettuce don’t hurt!
3. Hummus with veg- Often our market has a vendor making spreads/dips. Start with hummus, top with whatever fresh veggies look good: cucumber, sprouts, roasted bell peppers.
4. Tomato- yes this is totally different than a BLT! You have to have this in the height of summer tomato season: http://www.dinneralovestory.com/it-is-so-on/
5. Eggplant- Add or subtract whatever grilled veggies you like: https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/grilled-eggplant-sandwiches-with-red-onion-aioli
Responsibly raised chicken/beef/pork are a great thing to get at the farmers market. Healthier animals mean healthier you!
1. Italian sausage– or not italian- the meat vendor at the farmers market we attend often has sausage specials where they try different combinations. grill or roast in the oven along with peppers/potatoes/onions- so easy you don’t really need a recipe- but if you need some guidance: https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a22628682/best-sausage-and-peppers-recipe/
2. Jam glazed chicken- I feel like almost every farmers market and craft fair has a jam/jelly vendor- choose your favorite flavor and melt over chicken. https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/recipes/a2797/floras-jam-glazed-chicken-recipe/
3. Slow cooker pulled pork- Buy a locally crafted BBQ sauce to smother your slow cooked heritage raised pork shoulder in.https://www.fifteenspatulas.com/slow-cooker-bbq-pulled-pork/
4. Fajitas- Here in the north-east you probably won’t find avocados and limes to serve with your fajitas- but I have found the rest of the ingredients (including tortillas and a seasoning mix) at a local market.
5. Steak- Enjoy the flavor of the grass-fed beef by just grilling up a steak! Cut up whatever veggies you bought to put on the side. Maybe sauteé some locally harvested mushrooms to put on top.
Whatever veggie is in season: turn it into a soup!
1. Corn Chowder– If somehow you get tired of just eating corn on the cob, use that fresh corn to make corn chowder. Using the cobs adds extra flavor. https://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Corn-Chowder
2. Tomato Soup– This is my favorite tomato soup recipe. Strain it after you cook it to make it as smooth as Campbells! https://foodess.com/creamy-tomato-soup/
3. Carrot soup– carrot stew, carrot stew it’s my favorite thing to do. . . (anyone else have this record as a kid?) https://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/simple-carrot-soup.html This recipe calls for creme fresh, but I use plain yogurt instead.
4. Bone Broth– This always sounds so mysterious – but really it’s simmering a bunch of bones in pot for a long time! My meat vendor once had a deal where you got a package of chicken wings free with purchase. We are not big wings people, but the vendor suggested making broth- brilliant! Fill a pot with water, onion, celery, carrots, bones (beef or chicken), peppercorns, a bay leaf- let simmer as long as you are able. Once it cools you can freeze it for use later.
5. Potato-leek soup– My CSA would always give us leeks and potatoes and I didn’t know what else to do so I made a lot of this soup! Freezes easily. https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/potato-leek-soup.html
Lots of chopping, but salads are even better when made with local produce.
1. Big green salad– No recipe but just chop up whatever you bought! Make a quick dressing with olive oil and lemon juice and some herbs. Or some ranch dressing for the kids (or you! I don’t judge) Keep it simple!
I hate to mess with Ina, but I use cilantro instead of basil, and add tomatoes. . . but this is just a jumping off point.
3. Chicken salad- Grill up those locally raised chicken breast, and mix in something crunchy: https://www.justbarechicken.com/recipes/farmers-market-chicken-salad
4. Pasta salad-So- this is a lot like any of the pasta dishes- but served cold https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/farmers-market-pasta-salad
5. Rice salad- A nice alternative to a pasta salad. https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/the-world-of-rice-salads
Do yourself a favor and just buy your eggs at the farmers market. They are WAY better than anything you get at the grocery store. All of these recipes are infinitely customizable. Swap in whatever veggies look good.
1. quiche/frittata- I usually just look up a quiche recipe to help me remember what ratio of eggs to milk to use. Sub in whatever veggies or cheese look good! https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/basic-quiche-99254#activity-feed
2. Egg sandwich- Farmers market fresh bread, responsibly raised bacon or ham, and a farm fresh egg- maybe with some fresh butter and greens- simply and delicious!
3. Eggs and hash- Again, don’t make this complicated- it’s just veggies, potatoes and eggs https://www.marthastewart.com/859191/potato-hash-spinach-and-eggs
4. Hard boiled eggs-Egg salad, deviled eggs, eat them plain etc.
5. Buddha bowls- Adding an egg to a bowl and rice and veggies give you a good protein boost. https://smittenkitchen.com/2019/01/crispy-rice-and-egg-bowl-with-ginger-scallion-vinaigrette/
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