As the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, I find myself craving fresh, easy to prepare meals. My summer menus are typically quick dishes made up of greens, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, fish and herbs. Having the Saratoga Farmers’ Market open twice a week makes it super convenient for me to always have my kitchen stocked with the freshest possible foods – some even harvested the same day!
Whether you’re new to the Saratoga Farmers’ Market or a seasoned shopper, here are some of my favorite tips for making the most of our fabulous local Market:
Meet your farmers.
Unlike grocery stores, Farmers Markets put you right in front of the people who grow the food you’re eating. These folks plant, harvest and haul themselves from their farms to set up shop and serve you the fruits (and veggies) of their labor. When you shop at the Market, you not only get the freshest food — grown only minutes away– you also ensure that your money stays in your local community with hardworking small businesses! Talk to them and ask them questions if you don’t know what to buy. Our farmers and vendors often have great recipe ideas, like the one vendor that gave me a mushroom risotto recipe that has quickly become a family favorite.
Find what’s fresh.
Ideally, you’re eating food because of its nutritional make-up as well as how it tastes. Local, freshly picked foods provide the most nutrients possible for our bodies. At the Market, you’re not picking over food that’s been sitting on a truck or in storage for weeks (or sometimes months)—you’re getting something that was growing in the ground moments before you purchase it. Fresh food not only feeds you well, it tastes better, too. Why not get the best of what’s available for the money you’re spending? And, speaking of money, the Saratoga Farmers’ Market gladly accepts EBT, WIC, FMNP, and Fresh Connect too!
Get to know your community.
A weekly (or bi-weekly) trip to the Farmers’ Market means you get to be out and about with the people in your neighborhood. Shopping in the park to live music, and enjoying the sunshine with friendly folks sure beats a store with the harsh, fluorescent lights and tiled floors, wouldn’t you say? In addition to an abundance of fresh food, you will find also find community tables with local organizations spreading the word about their programs and services. The Saratoga Farmers’ Market welcomes community groups looking to do kid’s activities and craft as well. They especially love partnering with groups whose missions match closely with that of the Market’s—healthy eating, active living, and environmental care.
Shop like an artist.
Markets can help you tap into your inner artist, allowing you to do creative things with the fresh food you find. Take in all the colors, shapes and smells of the Market and turn your family’s meals into true “works of art.” When heirloom tomatoes are in season, combine them with some fresh cheese and basil for a colorful, summer appetizer. Or pair strawberries, blueberries, some fresh mint and a squeeze of lemon for a zesty, summer fruit salad. Better yet, clip out the Market’s Weekly Recipes found in this paper and create your own seasonal recipe collection!
If you’re looking for a way to use up some of your recent Farmers’ Market finds, check out my fresh Kale and Beet Salad recipe below. See you at the Market!
Kara’s Kale and Beet Salad (with goat cheese and walnuts)
PREP TIME: 7 mins
TOTAL TIME: 12 mins
INGREDIENTS: *available seasonally at the Farmers’ Market
1 cup fresh mint leaves; torn*
1/3 cup red onion; thinly sliced*
6 ounces kale; chopped (or use baby kale instead)*
1/4 cup greek yogurt; plain*
2 tbsp fat-free buttermilk
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper; freshly ground
4 eggs; hard boiled and quartered*
8 ounces baby beets; steamed, peeled and quartered*
1/2 cup walnuts; coarsely chopped
2 ounces goat cheese; crumbled (about ½ cup)*
Peel beets and wrap them in parchment paper. Microwave beets on high for 7 minutes.
Carefully remove and let cool.
Combine mint, onion and kale in a large bowl.
Combine yogurt, buttermilk, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and stir with a whisk.
Drizzle yogurt mixture over kale mixture and toss gently to coat.
Once cooled, quarter the beets.
Arrange eggs and beets over salad.
Sprinkle with nuts and cheese.