what's hot at the market?
What’s hot at the market
Summer is a great time of year to get your pasty winter self outdoors and out of your winter food rut. Take a hike down to your local farmer’s market and check out the fresh produce, local meats, hand crafted cheeses and array of other one-of-a-kind products. Farmer’s markets have three things that make them great; They’re inexpensive, filled with healthy choices, and the food you get there tastes better. It’s a win-win-win.
I’m a frequent flier at farmers markets, and here’s what we’re seeing in St. Louis this spring.
They may not be as big and red as the ones at Schnucks or Diebergs, and there’s a good reason for that. These locally grown, often organic strawberries are the real deal – full of flavor, fresh from the farm and ready to add to salads, make into a jam or, like my daughter does, eat in the car.
Lettuces and Greens
Lettuce is a cold weather crop, and we’ve had plenty of icy temperatures to support a plentiful harvest. Many different varieties of lettuce can be found, including red leaf, green leaf, arugula, spring mix or bib. There’s also plenty of kale and a variety of exotic locally gown, unique greens.
Harvested from March until June, this early spring crop is seeing a lot of shelf space at local markets. We love it blanched, but asparagus is versatile, so buy lots and try it different ways.
Garden, snap and snow peas are an eat-as-they-are favorite. This year they seem to be crisper and more flavorful than ever. Check out future Sizzlicious! posts for great recipes, or simply toss in a salad for an easy flavor blend.
We saw the first appearance of rhubarb last week, and it looked beautiful! Don’t be afraid of this strange and wonderful vegetable. Look for brightly colored, heavy stalks that shine. Talk to the vendors about how to whip this up into a yummy dessert.
Radish and Turnips
Both these salad staples are best grown and harvested in the spring. Local farmers have plenty to sell, so look up some recipes and buy a bunch.
Before you pack up the kids and head out, here are a few reminders about farmer’s markets:
*Bring cash. Most vendors are local peeps like you and me. Although some will take credit or debit cards, most only accept cash, small bills preferred. In our house, we save small bills and change all week to be ready for weekend trips.
*Talk to the vendors. They’re the experts. Not sure what something is? I get it – everything looks green and leafy. Don’t be shy about asking – vendors are usually the farmers themselves and love to talk trade. And sometimes they even have a unique recipe or tip you’re not likely to find on the internet.
*Plan, but be flexible. I really hate to buy produce and not be able to use it before it goes bad. We try to research a recipe or two before heading out the door to make sure we’re efficient. That’s my husband – the planner. I’m more of an “Oh, that’s pretty!” kind of shopper. We’ve discovered a few favorites this way, so bring a list, but keep your eyes out and minds (and mouths!) open.