It’s time for the first annual Liberty Zen Farmer’s Market Meal Challenge! Make good use of your farmer’s market, before winter descends and fresh, local produce is difficult to find.
Why go to the farmer’s market instead of picking up the same ingredients at the grocery store? Because the farmer’s market is fun – interesting people, samples of homemade goodies, informational seminars, live music. Or because the farmer’s market offers the ability to buy naturally grown produce directly from a farmer you can talk to. Perhaps it is simply your preference to buy locally, or maybe you enjoy finding new and unusual veggies some farmer decided she just had to grow. Just go – you’ll find your own reason to take the Farmer’s Market Meal Challenge!
Farmer’s Market Meal Challenge
So, what’s the Market Meal Challenge? Make one meal a week from ingredients bought at the farmer’s market. You can add staples, like spices, milk, flour, or rice, but the proteins, veggies, fruits, baked goods, and condiments (where possible) should come from the market. Don’t take home that gorgeous jar of peach salsa and let it sit in the cabinet as a “special” purchase – use it, and show us how you did! Personally, I’d get some cage-free chicken, roast it with chili seasoning, shred it, put it on a french bread loaf, add a healthy dose of the salsa, shred some raw goat-milk cheese over all of it, and stick it in the oven to toast while I made a side salad. You might go another route, and do a vegetarian soup or a vegan dish with quinoa or beans added.
If you don’t have to go to the farmer’s market because you grow all your own produce, or you grow to supplement what you get at the market, your home-grown ingredients count, too! You quite obviously know your farmer, and know your food, which is the point here. So join the Farmer’s Market Meal Challenge today!
Who Can Participate?
You don’t need to be a blogger or a chef to take the Farmer’s Market Meal Challenge! Just commit to making one meal a week something from the farmer’s market. There are no other rules, so if you can buy granola and milk at your market and make it breakfast, you do you! Post your meal in the comments here, then post to your market’s Facebook page. Photos welcome but not necessary!
If you blog, take the Farmer’s Market Meal Challenge with me, and I’ll be happy to add your link below – just shoot me an e-mail from the link at the top of the page. I’ll add the name of your recipe or post, photo with attribution, and a link with a brief description so folks can see how to use all that beautiful produce! You don’t have to be a recipe blogger – just someone who loves food and will take a picture of the sandwich they made on market bread with market tomatoes and lettuce. Or whatever floats your boat.
My First Official Market Meal
Quiche. It sounds fancy, but it seriously isn’t. And it’s seriously delicious. It’s scrambled eggs in a pie shell with veggies, meat, herbs, and/or cheese. OK, so you generally need to cook your veggies first, or your pie will be watery, but that’s the most difficult portion of the process. Let’s take a look at what I found at the Ohio Valley Farmer’s Market, then on to a quick recipe!
Farmer’s Market Items
Quiche/Pie Shell: Yup, I am a lucky girl. I can get a pre-baked shell right at the market, to fill with the goodies I find. Kendra at Rustic Kneads uses organic flour to make an all-butter crust, just as good as my mom’s (previously the only crust I would eat). Obviously, I’d prefer you didn’t tell my mom. I hate making pie crust, so this is a great convenience, but you could also make your own or buy a crust that meets your lifestyle and dietary needs.
Eggs: I chose a dozen from the well-treated hens over at Cross Roads Farm.
Swiss Chard: I used about a pound, Certified Naturally Grown from Lone Oak Farms and Gardens.
Garlic: Also from Lone Oak
Spring Onions: Lone Oak again for these – you can tell I have “regular” stops!
Cheese: Raw goat’s milk, turned into fabulous colby-style cheese! A fantastic find from Artisan Foods by Harlan Farms.
Swiss Chard and Colby Quiche
- 1 Pre-Baked Pie Shell
- 5 Eggs
- 1 Pound Swiss Chard
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- 3 small Spring Onions
- 4 ounces Colby-Style Cheese
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1/3 cup milk
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- Heat your oven to 350 Degrees. That’s Fahrenheit, my friends… 350 Celsius would create a charred quiche rather than a chard quiche!
- Wash your veggies. Peel and chop, smash, or slice the garlic into small pieces. Remove the chard leaves from the stems, and chop into approximately bite-sized pieces. Slice the onion into rings, both the bulbs and about halfway up the green stems.
- Shred the cheese – it doesn’t really matter if it’s tiny or done on the big shredder holes. (If you’re using softer cheeses, just crumble, chunk, or small-dice them the best you can, and leave the cheese out of step 7.)
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, and cook until it begins to soften. If the garlic starts to brown, turn down the heat and add a splash of water to the pan (safely – don’t actually splash) to cool it down.
- Add the onion, and continue over medium or medium-low heat until the onions just start to soften.
- Add the Swiss Chard to the pan. Continue cooking until the chard has wilted significantly, to less than half its original volume.
- While the chard cooks – or after if you’re prone to kitchen mishaps and want to avoid burning the chard – start the egg mixture. Add the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper to a large mixing bowl. Whisk (or use a fork) until well combined. Stir in the cheese.
- When the chard is ready, tip the entire mixture into the pie crust. Spread it as evenly as possible over the bottom of the pie crust. If you’re using a softer cheese, crumble, dollop, or chunk your cheese over the chard, also trying to make it as even as possible.
- Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the sauteed chard, onion, and garlic.
- Put the pie tin on a cookie sheet for transfer to the oven and baking – it helps catch any spills. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center is not runny but still wiggly.
- Let cool at least ten minutes before serving. Serve with a garden salad, fruit salad, and/or roasted potatoes for a more complete meal, or larger appetites!
How to Adapt This Recipe
Part of the fun of going to the farmer’s market is discovering new foods! Essentially, you could sauté up any vegetable and add it to a quiche, which makes it a perfect jumping-off point to begin your Market Meal Challenge. Here are a few suggestions – feel free to try some of your own and let me know how they work out!
Eggs: I have not found a good egg replacement for quiche, since it’s basically an egg dish. Of course, if your farmer’s market doesn’t have someone selling eggs, you could use your preferred eggs from the store, or those from a neighbor if you’re lucky enough.
Swiss Chard: If chard isn’t in season, or it’s not your favorite, use any leafy green veggie. You could use one or a combination of spinach, kale, collards, beet greens, or even dandelion!
Garlic: Leeks, chives, or shallots would play well here, as substitutes for the garlic, the onion, or both. You could also use dried garlic from the farmer’s market, likely to be far more fresh-tasting than store powder.
Onion: See above comment about leeks and shallots. Also note that it might be fun to use more than one type of onion, if that’s what’s available. They don’t all taste the same! Swap out green onions, red onions, new onions, old onions – each can provide a slightly different flavor profile.
Cheese: I can’t get raw cow’s milk easily where I live, so the artisan cheese-maker can’t either. She uses goat’s milk, so that’s what I buy. Your state’s laws may or may not allow any dairy at farmer’s markets, but if you find a local cheese maker, it’s truly different than the pre-shred stuff at the store. Even the good kind. You could substitute any cheese you wanted, almost, or a blend. To use harder cheese, like a Parmesan-style, mix with softer cheese like mozarella for a creamier finished pie. Consider using half bleu cheese, and adding a few crumbled strips of bacon to the recipe – that’s right, amazing.
Milk: My recipe calls for 1/3 cup of whole milk. Use whatever milk you wish, though chocolate is probably not your best option. You could actually even add water – the cheese will help keep it soft and creamy. The liquid just helps get the eggs nice and fluffy.
Take the Farmer’s Market Challenge! Create one meal, hopefully one each week, and post your ideas and inspiration below! Then post to social media, and make sure to tag your market or vendors’ pages – they’ll really appreciate it.