Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course
During late spring, summer, and fall, we pretty much live off what we grow and what we get from the farmer’s market. First of all, I love supporting local farmers and knowing about the farms from where my food comes. Secondly, I firmly believe one of the best ways to avoid the onslaught of recalls is to avoid factory-farmed and industrially-packaged food. Family farmers for the win! I love the health benefits that come from eating seasonally, it’s cheaper to eat farmer’s market produce instead of grocery store produce, and finally, food this fresh just tastes better.
When I come home with a massive windfall of fruits and vegetables like this one, people always ask, “What are you going to make with all that?’
It seems like some people have the problem of getting all this yummy looking stuff and they end up letting half of it go bad. How about some creative ways to use it up?
Some tasty meal ideas from the farmer’s market
I thought today, I’d write about what we do with our farmer’s market goodies. We don’t eat much meat in the summer because that produce is so, so, so good but you can easily add some grilled chicken or your meat of choice to most of these ideas.
Some of these ideas are fairly basic but when your fruits and vegetables are this fresh, they’re bursting with flavor and don’t need much doctoring up.
I like to grill a whole bunch of vegetables at a time and serve them with rice in a big bowl. I season the veggies with sunflower seed oil, garlic salt, and black pepper before throwing them on the grill. If I’m adding veggies that take longer to cook, like potatoes or carrots, I steam them to almost-tenderness while I’m heating up the grill. Everything gets tossed in the oil and seasoning mixture first. I have some grill baskets that work well for most things. I do a basket of veggies for each of us to meet our preferences and leave out unwanted items.
It takes 10-20 minutes to grill everything to smoky perfection. Meanwhile, I’ve got the rice on. For this, I like to use more unusual varieties of rice like red or black. Not only does it look beautiful, but the flavor is a bit different. However, any rice you have on hand will do. To make the bowl, add a scoop of rice to the bottom, then arrange your beautiful grilled veggies over it. If you have any fresh herbs, chop them up and sprinkle them on top. This is a light but satisfying meal. I don’t worry too much about protein when I have this much tasty goodness in my bowl but obviously make this dish to your family’s preferences.
Note: If you don’t have a grill and you don’t mind heating up the house, you can roast these vegetables instead.
It almost sounds cliche, but a stirfry is another fantastic way to use an abundance of vegetables. Here’s a recent one I made with green beans, baby bok choy, yellow squash, garlic, scallions, and soba noodles. I julienned fresh carrots and cucumber to add to the top after the whole thing was cooked.
Steam the veggies that need longer to cook first and cook your soba noodles or other noodles then too. Get all your veggies chopped up how you want them before you start heating the rice. Then, in your favorite skillet, heat up oil like sunflower seed, coconut, or peanut. You want to heat this to a fairly high temp and when water splattered on it from your fingertips sizzles, you’ve heated it up enough.
First put in your base flavors to season the oil – onion and garlic. Stir them almost constantly until they are lightly browned and fragrant. Then add your other veggies and stir them well. Top them with a teeny bit more oil if desired and put the lid on for 3 minutes to let them steam up nicely. Remove the lid and stir them some more. Season them with any combination you like of soy sauce, coconut aminos, fish sauce, and/or hoisin sauce. Throw in the pre-cooked noodles and turn the heat even higher. Stir constantly for 2-3 minutes.
Dish it into a bowl and top it with your favorite things. I like to add cilantro, peanut sauce, and sweet red chili sauce. Here’s the inexpensive peanut sauce recipe from my guide to eating cheap, The Flat Broke Cookbook, available in PDF or paperback.
- 1/3 cup of peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
- ½ cup of broth or water
- 1 tbsp of soy sauce
- 1 tbsp of rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp of garlic powder
- 1 tsp of cumin
- 1 tsp of ginger powder
- 1 tsp of sugar or honey
- Optional: Crushed red chili pepper flakes
- In a cooking pot, add peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic powder, ginger powder, cumin, and broth or water.
- Warm this up on low heat and whisk constantly.
- When the sauce is smooth and creamy, add the sugar or honey and whisk for another minute.
- Remove from heat.
You can alternatively make this sauce in a food processor. Drizzle this over your stir-fry or use it as a tasty dip for vegetables or chicken skewers. Top with red chili pepper flakes if desired.
Here are some other ways you can use your imagination to make the most of your farmer’s market haul.
Vegetable soup: Saute some onions and garlic, then add them to a crockpot. For your base, you can use any kind of broth or tomato juice. Add in the veggies that need a while to cook, like potatoes, chopped peppers, and carrots, and a can of beans. Season as desired and cook on high in the crockpot for 1-3 hours. Add your other vegetables and cook for another hour.
Raw veggies and dip: Fast and kid-friendly, slice your vegetables up and use them as a vehicle for your family’s favorite dip. A nice cool meal on a hot day.
Salad: Duh. This is kind of an easy one. But the super fresh veggies will make it more flavorful than usual.
Pasta salad: Make your favorite pasta salad recipe and then up the ante by adding chopped fresh vegetables.
Zoodles alfredo: Get the recipe here.
Veggie sandwich: Thinly slice vegetables (it works best with a mandoline but you can do it by hand too. I have this mandoline slicer with cut-resistant gloves. WEAR THE GLOVES. Trust me, I know this for a reason. One of my fingertips probably looks like I was trying to remove my prints to escape prosecution for my life of crime.) Toss veggies lightly in Italian dressing, put your favorite spread on a slice of hearty bread, add cheese and meat if desired, and make a tasty and filling sandwich. Throw on some sunflower sprouts for good measure.
Add them to other foods: Making pasta? Throw some veggies in the sauce. Lasagna? Add those veggies. Pop them into any soup, sauce, or casserole you happen to be cooking for a boost of nutrition and taste. If you have picky family members, they’ll be less noticeable shredded. (Shred the vegetables, not the family members.)
Fresh fruit: Just eat fruit. 🙂 Or you can puree it and make popsicles. You can make a fruit salad. You can make a baked good. Fruit is the easy one.
For more recipe ideas and some food preservation ideas, check out my PDF cookbook, The Seasonal Kitchen Companion for a glimpse into my kitchen. To learn how to can your summer bounty, check out my paperback book, The Prepper’s Canning Guide.
See? Easy peasy.
I hope this gives you some ideas for your farmers market or backyard goodies. Branch out and get some less familiar fruits and vegetables too. Let me know your favorite summer dishes made from local fruits and veggies.