Frugal Green Living: Find Your Dinner at the Farmers' Market
Frugal Green Living - what does that mean? Well, with the current state of the economy, suddenly everyone is watching their wallet. One of the best ways to save money is to make your own food, and this is the best time of year to do it, as the farmers markets overflow with the bounty of fall. At Planet Green, food writer Kelly Rossiter has been showing what you can do with the stuff you find. We round up a few of her ideas here. All photographs by Kelly Rossiter.Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes
When I have an ingredient that is so fresh and wonderful in and of itself, I like to cook it simply to allow the taste to shine through. The first night we had the potatoes barbecued with some onions and olive oil, which is one of our favorite ways to eat them. I left the skins on them and they got a crispy exterior which I love. If I'm feeling particularly decadent, I use butter instead of olive oil and the onions get caramelized and it's fantastic. ::Olive Oil Mashed PotatoesChanterelle MushroomsI had so much Ontario produce this week that I was considering giving the farmers' market a pass. Then I got an email from Seth at Forbes Wild Foods letting me know that he would have fresh chanterelle mushrooms that afternoon. Needless to say, I made a beeline for the market. I was there so early that Seth had barely begun to set up his booth. I waited patiently and chatted while he put out his jars of preserves and his dried mushrooms. He told me he had learned from experience that if he opened the fresh foraged goods too soon, he was inundated with people wanting the Saskatoon berries, the fiddleheads or the wild leeks and he can't finish setting up. The regulars of the market know enough to line up at Seth's booth to see what delight is going to appear each week. ::Chanterelle MushroomsYellow Boletus
Last week my husband and I feasted on chanterelles on toast that I got at the farmers' market. In addition to those mushrooms, Seth from Forbes Wild Foods also had lobster mushrooms, so named because of their flavor, and yellow boletus. I don't like seafood, so I took a pass on the lobster mushrooms, but I wanted to taste the boletus.
Unlike the chanterelles which held their shape during cooking, the boletus broke down quite a lot. Only the smaller caps which I left whole stayed a bit firm. They threw off a lot of liquid and turned quite sauce-like. They completely melted in the mouth. The boletus had an earthier taste than the chanterelles, possibly a bit closer to the taste of a morel. I added some heirloom tomatoes that I got from the farmers' market, some basil from my garden and topped it off with some Ontario sheep's milk cheese. I realize the odds of you finding yellow boletus mushrooms are pretty limited, so make this with any wild mushrooms, or a combination of them. You can use any pasta shape you like. I was caught short at the cottage and ended up using Chinese noodles. This was a "toss together" recipe, so the measurements are approximate. ::Yellow BoletusGarlic Tomato Sauce
We finally packed up our summer stuff and headed back to the city after six weeks at the cottage. Normally I feel really sorry for myself when I have to leave in September and I make my husband take me out for dinner on that first evening home. But we paid one last summer visit to our vegetable lady before we return in the fall and have her wonderful squash, so I was inundated with tomatoes and garlic. In fact, I have so much garlic that despite the preponderance of vampire books, movies and TV shows, I have nothing to fear.
I thought about roasting some garlic, but that would take too long. I decided to make a simple garlic tomato sauce that required about 10 minutes of preparation to peel and chop the ingredients and then would take an hour to cook without any effort needed on my part. Without the use of onions, tomato paste, herbs and wine that you often put into tomato sauce, it had a clean taste that was the essence of late summer. ::Garlic Tomato SaucePasta with Zucchini in a Lemon Basil Cream Sauce
I'm always writing about the benefits of buying your produce from the farmers' market. You know that the produce is local, and you have the opportunity to actually talk to the farmer and ask him about his farming practices. In my experience they are happy to chat, as long as you don't try to engage them in a long philosophical discussion when they have a long line up of people wanting to buy their produce.
Now that my husband and I are at our cottage until after Labour Day, I'm not making my weekly foray to the market. I just go one better. We buy our vegetables from a local lady who has an extremely large garden behind her modest home. She grows the Ontario vegetables that our grandmothers would have recognized, lettuce, carrots, beets, zucchini, cucumbers, onions, squash, tomatoes and pumpkins. There is nothing esoteric in her garden, but that's just fine with me. ::Pasta with Zucchini in a Lemon Basil Cream SauceHedgehog Mushrooms
See Also:Find Your Dinner at the Farmers' Market: Hedgehog MushroomsFind Your Dinner at the Farmers' Market: More ZucchiniFind Your Dinner at the Farmers' Market: Grilled VegetablesFind Your Dinner at the Farmers' Market: Cook With Baby Beets and Sugar Snap Peas