Farmer’s Market Meal Challenge – Week 2
Welcome to week two of the 2017 Farmer’s Market Meal Challenge! The challenge? Make one meal a week with the bulk of the ingredients coming from your local farmer’s market. Post your recipe, idea, or photo to whatever social media outlet you use, and tag your market or vendors. Comment here if you prefer. Eat local, know your food, support the people who feed you. Here’s the challenge kickoff post, and a great recipe to adapt for the produce in your farmer’s market!
Last week, I made a quiche, because it is easily adaptable to whatever you can find at your farmer’s market. This week, I chose pasta sauce, for the same reason. Don’t worry about the “pasta” part – use whatever you like in place of noodles – zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, quinoa, or even potatoes. You know what you and your family need.
This week, I made time to shop at a new market. They didn’t have much, but it’s still early in the season here in Ohio. I also discovered a farmer’s market newly opened in a nearby town! Go, Martin’s Ferry – I’ll see you soon! Hubby and I made our trip to our usual farmer’s market, too.
Farmer’s Market Finds
What did I find? Let’s take a peek:
- Havarti-style Cheese made from raw goat’s milk. This comes from Connie Morris at Artisan Foods by Harlan Farms.
- Jewelweed Soap to help fight poison ivy as I clear our property. Pam at Fine as Frog’s Hair Creations was clear that these soaps weren’t medicinal, and that she made no claims about their effectiveness in treating anything. Having purchased other varieties of her soaps, I knew they were quality. The Jewelweed has been working like a charm!
- Blackberry Peach Jam from Poppy & Moxie. Um, yum! I love keeping summer flavors around with jams, frozen fruit, and home-canned fruits. I tuck them away for winter so I can have mouthful of summertime while listening to news reports about the latest polar vortex and ice dams in the river.
- Sourdough Honey Wheat Buns, half a dozen Lemon Cupcakes, and a loaf of French Bread from Rustic Kneads.
- Potatoes, Chard, Spinach, Green Onions, Zucchini, and Potatoes from Lone Oak Farms.
- Fresh Peaches and Cherries from Myra at Thornton Enterprises. For snacking.
- Chicken Bratwurst and Tomato Basil Bulk Chicken Sausage from Cross Roads Farm. The tomato basil sausage is the inspiration for this week’s Farmer’s Market Meal Challenge recipe.
Meat Sauce Recipe
It’s still very early in the tomato season here in Ohio. Lucky for me, I canned tomato sauce last year, and had a quart left in the cabinet. I also used herbs growing on my back porch, namely oregano and basil. Remember, home-grown items count, because it still means you know your farmer! There is honey included in the recipe that is not on my list of purchases – I bought a half-gallon from Raspberry Fields Apiary early in the season. Possible substitutions and adaptations are below the recipe. Make this Challenge dish your own with ingredients from your farmer’s market.
- 1 pound Tomato Basil Chicken Sausage
- 1 quart tomato sauce
- 2 cloves fresh garlic
- 1/4 cup fresh Basil
- 1 Tablespoon fresh Oregano
- 2 teaspoons Honey
- Olive Oil as needed
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Noodle of your choice, for serving
- Toasted French bread or garlic bread for serving (optional)
- Chicken sausage is exceptionally lean, so add a teaspoon or so of olive oil to a large frying pan or sauce pot. Over medium heat, add the sausage and begin browning. Break up large chunks as you go.
- Chop, smash, grind, or pulverize your garlic. Just make the pieces small enough that chomping on one won’t be unpleasant. Add to the pan just before the chicken is finished cooking. Stir frequently to prevent burning the garlic.
- Add tomato sauce, and reduce heat to medium low or low, depending on your stove. Let it simmer, not boil (that’s small bubbles – you want it too cook down, not scorch on the bottom.)
- Go outside and cut the herbs you want. Or, you know, wash and chop what you have. Those measurements are approximate – I used about ten very large basil leaves, and a couple of stems’ worth of oregano. I’d have liked a little more basil, but the family declared this dish “perfection”.
- Add fresh herbs, honey, salt, and pepper.
- Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Serve over pasta or vegetables with toasty bread for sopping up every drop of sauce.
The ingredients available at the farmer’s market where you live might not match those in the challenge recipe. That’s OK! One of the fun things about the farmer’s market is finding new things and trying new ingredients. Experiment. Ask your vendor what might substitute well. Check out these possible adaptations for inspiration!
- Tomato Basil Chicken Sausage – Obviously, this is something unique to this farmer. Substitute with the bulk sausage, ground beef, ground poultry, or even link sausages available where you are. No meat? No problem. Saute two pounds of spinach, chard, kale, or other green leafy vegetable to replace the meat!
- Tomato Sauce – If this isn’t available at your farmer’s market, you can make this challenge recipe with whole tomatoes. I’d use 3-4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped. Add them when you would add the sauce, along with one to 1-1/2 cups of liquid. Use water, chicken stock, vegetable stock, or tomato juice as you prefer. Your finished sauce will be less saucy and more chunky, but still yummy! To step it up and be a little “cheffy”, add a quarter cup of the pasta water after the pasta has finished cooking – it helps the sauce coat the pasta better. This method only works if using starchy noodles, not with zucchini or other veggie noodles.
- Garlic – If you don’t like or can’t get fresh garlic, you could leave it out. Or substitute one small white onion, two shallots, or a leek. I’m lucky enough to be able to get freshly dehydrated garlic from Mr. Greenjeans at my farmer’s market, too, so I’d use that as a substitute if I really couldn’t get my hands on the fresh stuff. Of course, as a last resort, you could add about a teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Fresh Herbs – You can adapt this recipe to use almost any fresh herb available. You can also vary the amounts to taste, or for a more powerful herbal dose to promote health.
- Honey – This can be left out if you have super-sweet tomatoes or just need to cut back on the sugar. If you feel like your sauce needs a little “something” and you’re leaving out the honey, try a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar or Worcestershire sauce. Alternately, feel free to use just a little brown sugar, white sugar, stevia, coconut sugar… you get the point.
Tell Us About Your Challenge Meal!
Did you follow along, and make quiche or pasta sauce? Did you go your own way, and make a different meal with what you found at your market? Stop by the comments section and let us know. Don’t forget to post and tag your local farmer’s market on social media!