Brookside Farmers' Market

Anyone who has followed For Love of the Table for any length of time knows that I really do eat seasonally....and that I live for the months of the year when I can go to the farmers' market and purchase my food from the people who are actually growing it.  If someone were to ask me "What is your favorite thing to cook?"...the answer would be "whatever is fresh and beautiful right now."  And while you can find recipes that feature seasonal produce on almost every post I have ever written, it is here, on this page that you will find things that are inspiring me...and that I am cooking with...right now, during the current season.  Because I am the market chef for the Brookside Farmers' Market, all of the images on this page will feature produce purchased at that market.  For those who live in the Kansas City Metropolitan area, when I can I will even direct you to the specific grower/vendor from whom I purchased my ingredients.   (If you live in the Kansas City Metropolitan area and you have never visited Brookside Farmers' Market, you should make it a point to do so.  I predict you will return again and again to this all local, all organic, vendor run market.)

During the growing season I try to update this page at least twice a month...sometimes more.  If you would like a more day-to-day snapshot of the things that are inspiring me right now, check out my Instagram feed.  


New Year's Day 2019--Traditional Fare from the Winter Market...

I made Black-eyed Peas with rice (and greens...and sausage) on New Year's Day for the first time ever this year...mostly because the ingredients for the feast were all at my fingertips at the Brookside Market! 

Here's the rundown of where I found my ingredients:

Black-eyed Peas--Sacred Sun Cooperative Farm
Tuscan Kale--Jackie & the Beanstalk...many other growers will have this as well
Fresh Kielbasa--Urbavore Urban Farms
Frozen Tomatoes--Jackie & the Beanstalk


Late Fall 2017--Soup from the Winter Market...

I have continued to be amazed and delighted at the bounty of the market..even after several hard freezes.  Root vegetables...squashes...greens and Cole crops....all continue to be abundant.  A couple of weeks ago we enjoyed a traditional French Farm-style soup that was made almost entirely with things I had purchased at the indoor market.  Only the dried beans, stock and parsley (from my own. protected little herb plot) were not from the market.

The main ingredient of the soup is cabbage--a fantastic vegetable to purchase and keep on hand during the winter months.  It is of course wonderful in soups...but is also great as a side vegetable (mixed with starchy vegetables like potatoes...and corn or peas from your freezer). I even like it as a "sauce" for pasta.  And of course at a time of year when "fresh & raw" are scarce, a simple slaw is a welcome sight.  If you prefer a warm salad, it can do that too.  Cabbage is easy to store...and keeps a long time.  Just put it in an open plastic bag in your vegetable crisper and cut off chunks as you need it.  Trim away any yellowed edges (from previous cuts) and remove any yellowed outer leaves (it's a good bet that the interior will still be crisp and delicious).  I got my cabbage from Green Gate Family Farm.

Also featured in the soup are the unusual and interesting varieties of turnips and sweet potatoes available from Urbavore Urban Farm.  You can of course use more traditional white turnips and orange fleshed sweet potatoes (both available at the market) in the soup, but I love the monochromatic hues of the soup when made with Goldball turnips and white Bonita sweet potatoes.  Even if you don't make this soup, you should purchase both of these vegetables so you can try them.  They are fantastic roasted or in a gratin...or in the delicious chicken couscous I posted earlier this year (the white sweet potatoes would make a fine substitution for the yellow summer squash...just add them when you add the carrots and turnips).

Finally, even the onion-garlic foundation of the soup came from the market.  Several growers still have onions and should definitely look for them.  And the leeks (another vegetable that will keep for a while in your crisper drawer...and the foundation of many delicious French soups) came from Fair Share Farm.

I think that most...hopefully all...of these things will continue to be available for the next couple of weeks at the market.  In any case, purchase as much as you can from the market, and then supplement from the grocery store.   This simple and nourishing soup will make a nice break from all the rich and complicated fare that fills our diets this time of year.   

Cabbage & White Bean Soup with Turnips & Sweet Potatoes


November 2017--The opening of the indoor market...

The open air market has closed for the year, but that doesn't mean that wonderful, locally grown produce has come to an end.  Many of the growers have high tunnels in which to grow cool season crops.  And almost all of the growers have an abundance of "storage" crops--loads of root and tuberous well as the winter squashes.  If you haven't been to the indoor market, you should definitely go.  It's held in the Brookside Campus of Research Medical Center at the intersection of Holmes & Rockhill and will be open every Saturday up until Christmas (with a hiatus the week after Thanksgiving) and then every other Saturday through March.  (You can find the exact dates on the Brookside Farmers' Market webpage.)  You will be surprised by the variety and abundance to be found at the winter market.

Now that the final burst of the summer crops (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, summer squash, etc.) has come to a close, I have jumped into winter squash season with abandon. I truly love winter squash.  I keep a stash of it all winter long.  It is delicious roasted (to serve as a side vegetable...or to be tucked into a salad or a grain pilaf or a lasagne...or puréed for a baked good or a velvety soup).  It can be simmered or braised for soups, stews and pastas.  And the list of foods that go well with squash is long and varied:  greens (kale, chard, spinach, etc.), root vegetables, mushrooms, onions/garlic, fennel, sweet corn, and shell beans...  Fruits like apples, pears, pineapple, and dried fruits...  Nuts of all kinds, herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, savory), spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, chili, cumin, cardamom)...  As well as cured meats (bacon, ham, sausage, pancetta and prosciutto) and cheeses (gruyère, parmesan, fontina, cheddar, jack cheese, and goat cheese).

Of all the things that squash pairs well with, I think mushrooms are one of my favorites.  The rich and savory flavor of mushrooms is a perfect complement to the sweetness of the winter squashes.  If you have never tried these two together, you should--and I have a couple of great recipes to get you started.  The first is a simple pizza that uses chunks of roasted butternut squash  and the second is an elegant little tart with carnival squash purée and sautéed apples.  The pizza makes a great weeknight dinner...and the tart, while also a nice evening meal, would be a fantastic starter for your Thanksgiving spread.

Butternut Squash & Mushroom Pizza

Winter Squash Tart with Mushrooms & Apples


Mid Autumn 2017--Dandelion Greens...

Recently as I have looked over the weekly Harvest Report I have noticed Italian Heirloom Dandelion Greens in the list of things that Stony Crest Urban Farm would be bringing to the market.  I have never cooked with dandelion greens.  But since I love greens of all kinds (particularly those typically found in French & Italian regional cooking) I have for some time intended to ask about them and purchase some.  A couple of weeks ago I finally got around to it...  And I was so glad I did!

When I asked about them, Diane told me that they were quite bitter...similar to other members of the Chicory family.  I like bitter greens, but knowing this when I was thinking about what to do with my purchase was quite helpful.  There are loads of ways to take advantage of the inherent bitterness of some foods...some of which I outline in my recipe post.

Because the weather has turned colder in recent days, I decided to add the greens to a rich and satisfying bean gratin that also included garlic sausage and some of Rodger and Diane's end of season tomatoes.  The tomatoes add great flavor, so be sure and pick some up when you get your dandelion greens.  The sausages could be replaced with chunks of ham...shreds of duck confit...or perhaps, in a few weeks, some of your leftover brined and roasted turkey (hopefully the dandelion greens will still be available...).

I was amazed by how much depth and flavor they added to my gratin.  The particular variety Rodger and Diane are growing are substantial and fresh.  Mine lasted (in the fridge, covered with a barely damp towel and inside of an airtight container) for almost a week.  I will definitely be getting them tuck into a pasta....or perhaps into a stuffing or a potato gratin.  I'm sure that, properly seasoned, they will also make a fine side of greens.  So if you--like me--have never tried them, I hope you will take advantage of this great fresh and local source.  You too will be glad you did.

The gratin...ready to be topped with crumbs and baked....

Gratin of White Beans with Dandelion Greens & Garlic Sausage


Mid Autumn 2017--Broccoli...

For years I didn't really notice local broccoli when it made its appearance at the farmers' market.  Decent to good broccoli is available year round at every grocery store.  I'm not quite sure why it didn't dawn on me that freshly harvested broccoli would be exceptional.  But it is.  So exceptional it is absolutely not to be missed when it is available.

Here in Kansas City, local broccoli is available in the spring and then again in the fall.  I first noticed its autumn return a couple of weeks ago.  For the next couple of weeks...maybe a bit longer...I think that you will be able to find it at several stalls at the market.  I made my first autumn purchase last week from Green Gate Family Farm.  .

The broccoli that is available from local growers is always so delicious that I hate to waste any of it.  Most of the recipes that I have posted over the years reflect this in that I try to incorporate the stems into the dish as well as the more commonly used florets.  This is an easy thing to do if you separate the stems and florets and subject the stems to a slightly longer cooking process in order to soften them and draw out their natural sweet and nutty flavor.  I have posted two pastas, a risotto and a soup--all of which incorporate this two step cooking process.

As I considered what to make with my new crop broccoli this week, it was the soup that appealed to me the most.  The sudden onset of chilly, blustery weather made a warming bowl of Broccoli Cheese Soup seem like just the thing.  I love this soup....  I have been making it for longer than I can remember.

In recent years have taught this soup in a "Quick Weeknight Meals" class.  If you have good knife skills, you can get it on the table in an hour.  And if you don't have good knife skills, you can still get it on the table in under an hour with the help of your food processor.  Just coarsely chop the onion and broccoli stems in the processor.  Scrape them out and into the pan and start cooking them.  Then use the processor to chop the florets.  You'll be amazed at how quick and easy a homemade soup can be.

And if you think of Broccoli Cheese Soup as a tired cliché, I think this delicious recipe...with its abundance of broccoli...and sharp, natural cheddar cheese...will change your mind.

Broccoli Cheese Soup


October 2017--Greens...and squash.... 

For the past couple of weeks I have been struck by the large influx of beautiful greens...all manner of kales and chard in almost every stand at the market.  I knew that they would be coming (see my late September post below), but it has been a delight to see.

At the same time,  the winter squash has begun to trickle into the stalls--Delicata, Butternut, Kabocha, Acorn, Carnival.  I love their beautiful colors...and fantastical shapes.  But mostly, I love cooking with them and eating them.  To me, winter squash is one of the chief delights of the autumn and winter months.  A few weeks ago--when it first appeared--I began to pick up one or two each time I went to the market.  Winter squash will keep well at room temperature as long as your room temperature isn't too warm (if you happen to have a dark spot, so much the better...).  It makes a wonderful "staple" to have on hand. 

One evening this past week I combined a bunch of chard I had purchased from Ki Koko Farms  with a butternut squash I had picked up from Red Ridge Farms.  The side dish I made was one that I hadn't made in a while, but it dropped into my mind as I contemplated the contents of my pantry and the pork chops thawing in my fridge.   The combination made a satisfying...and truly autumnal...meal.

The recipe is written to serve two, but it can be easily multiplied.  (Just make sure that you choose a saute pan that will accommodate all of the chard...and a roasting pan/baking sheet that will hold all of the squash in a snug, single layer.)  It is a simple, flexible recipe--one that you should be able to pull together without too much trouble for a week night meal.  The original recipe calls for yellow onions, but this past week when I made it, I had some lovely red onions from the market on my counter, so I used those.    As I mentioned, we had it with pork, but it would be equally delicious with steak, chicken, or lamb.  It is a perfect reason to make sure you bring home a bunch (or two) of greens...and the beginnings of your stash of winter squash...when you visit the market this weekend. 

Butternut Squash with Caramelized Onions & Swiss Chard


Early October 2017--Peppers, peppers, and more peppers.... 

I have always considered peppers to be the king of the September market.  After the long wait for the  green peppers to begin to turn, the ripe peppers begin to trickle into the market during August.  Then in September the market suddenly explodes with the bright hues of the fully ripened peppers:  reds, yellows and well as the occasional ivory or deep purple.  I love peppers.  I look forward to this moment every year.  I almost always come home from the market with a big bag of my favorites--sweet bells and poblanos.

This year, because of our unusually cool August, the pepper explosion is happening right now.  Almost every vendor will have them in abundance until frost.  Whether your taste runs toward sweet (bell, pimento, tiny cherry or lipstick peppers) or hot (poblanos, jalepenos, serranos, etc.), this is the time to enjoy them.

And there are so many ways to enjoy them:  on pizza, as part of a marinated vegetable platter, as a condiment (to accompany grilled meat or fish...or serve on a garlic scrubbed toast), in a tart, in a meat or vegetable stew...and of course, as a sauce for pasta.  Just last week we enjoyed one of my favorite late season pastas--nothing but noodles, sweet bell peppers, prosciutto, garlic and rosemary....

Fettuccine with Bell Peppers & Prosciutto

If you need some ideas for ways to use the current pepper abundance, take a minute to scroll through my Bell Pepper and Poblano Pepper posts.  I have shared a lot of recipes for peppers over the years and I think you will find a nice variety.

My favorite way to prepare peppers...whether sweet or to roast and peel them.  If you have never prepared them this way, check out my "basics" post to learn how.  When roasted, the soft, tender flesh can be used in all kinds of preparations.  And if you want to freeze your peppers so you can enjoy their incomparable taste all winter long, roasting them is the best way to prepare them for the freezer.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a big basket of poblano peppers at Red Ridge Farm's stall at the market.  When I saw those peppers I remembered a delicious dish I first made last fall: Queso Fundido (Poblano rajas with melted cheese).   If you have never tasted this dish--and you like cheese--you must make it.  It will become part of your regular rotation I am sure.  And when you buy your poblanos, do what I did and get extra.  That way you can freeze some so you will be able to make this delicious dish all winter long... (your friends and family will thank you...).

Queso Fundido with Goat Cheese


Late September 2017--Summer transitions into Fall.... 

I mentioned in my market post over the labor day weekend (see below) that special moment in the year--the cusp of summer and fall--when the market is still full of summer favorites, and at the same time is beginning to fill with the new crops of autumn.  I love cooking from this abundance.  We eat lots of the kinds of dishes I described in that labor day post--rich, hearty fare...featuring the vibrant flavors of late summer.  Since that post I have been thinking of another favorite for this unique moment in the year:  Eggplant Moussaka.  It has been on my mind since David's Pasture's lamb returned to the market a couple of weeks ago....  

A market feast: Moussaka made with lamb, eggplant, tomatoes,
onions & garlic ...accompanied by tender green and wax French beans
...all from the Brookside market.

We also eat--as always--lots of the kinds of foods that are amenable to alteration and invention at this time of year:  pastas, soups, vegetable ragouts, grain pilafs, frittatas/tortillas, and free form tarts.  This latter is one of my favorites at any moment of the year.  If you keep rounds of pie crust in your freezer, a tart can be a relatively easy thing to put on the table (just remember to move the crust from the freezer to the fridge when you leave for work in the morning).

One of my favorite tarts for the latter part of summer and early fall is one that features delicious, loaded-with-flavor tomatoes of late summer and Swiss chard...which maintains a presence at the market for most of the growing season, but begins to return in greater abundance in the fall.  

Almost every grower will have beautiful chard (white, ruby, rainbow, etc.) at the market right now.  In particular I have noticed the chard displays at Urbavore Farm, Ki Koko Farm, Garden of Peace, Mama Tu's and Stonycrest Urban Farm.  

Tomatoes will soon be drawing to a close...but they are still abundant.  So when you pick up a few to make this tart, make sure you purchase extra to "put up" for the winter.  If you have never made summer tomatoes into sauce to freeze for the winter months, check out my how-to post from a few years ago.  Or, if you prefer, you can slow roast a few tomatoes--perfect for adding intense summer tomato flavor to grain pilafs...or a pizza...during the cold winter months.  

Finally, if you like free form tarts as much as I do, check out the "Tarts & Turnovers" section of my Recipes page for more ideas.  In particular, you might enjoy mProvençal Vegetable Galette (perfect for the last of the summer produce)...or the Butternut Squash, Apple & Leek Crostata that I posted a few years would be just the thing to welcome in this new season of the year.


Early September 2017--Pears & Honey...and the start of fall baking season  

Katie Nixon and Ken Barber of Green Gate Family Farm begin bringing pears into the Brookside Market sometime during August.  If you haven't stopped by their stall to get some, you are missing out.  From crisp and juicy Asian soft, candy sweet and even more juicy European-style pears...their pears run the gamut.  Whether you want a pear to snack on...toss in a salad...or bake with...they will be happy to tell you which ones will suit your needs the best.  .

Last week I brought home some of their Warren pears--which Ken had told me would be tender, sweet and juicy...the quintessential European dessert pear.  Since I knew they would be making their debut at last week's market, I planned on buying enough to make a cake.  But I also purchased a few extra to have on hand for snacking...or to toss in a salad.  I'm so glad I did.  They are delicious!  

The cake I decided to make is a Pear Upside-Down cake that I developed years ago for the National Honey Board.  The cake portion is entirely sweetened with honey and is subtly spiced with ginger, cloves and cinnamon--all of which go wonderfully with pear.  Since I knew I was going to be making this particular cake I also picked up a jar of honey at the market.  I purchased it from Ami of Red Ridge Farms.  It was a beautiful, translucent gold...with a clean, mild taste.  It was perfect in the cake..but I'm glad I got a large jar so that I will have extra ...for toast, biscuits, herb well as the fast approaching season of holiday baking (honey & sea salt caramels...Italian fig cookies....)

I made my cake on Labor Day--the "official" start of fall--and it really did feel like the beginning of the autumn and holiday baking season as the aroma of pears, honey, and spices filled my kitchen.  If you like to bake, this is a great time of year.  And if you like to bake with pears, you should definitely make sure you pick up some of Green Gate's lovely pears.  In addition to the upside-down cake, I have posted recipes for a European-style torte with pears and walnuts...a classic French tart that features poached pears and almond cream...a pear crisp with hazelnuts and dried cherries...and a pear-topped streusel coffee cake--pretty much something for everyone.    

Pear Upside-Down Honey-Spice Cake


Labor Day 2017--Polenta for the "Cusp" season... 

As official (and meteorological) summer draws to a close and autumn begins I always find myself craving the bold flavors of summer (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, corn, etc.) prepared in the richer and heartier manner of autumn.  Things like Corn Chowder...or Eggplant, Pepper & Chickpea Stew...are perfect for my mood and my cravings.  Polenta--often with fresh sweet corn folded in--is another late summer/early autumn favorite.  

On this labor day, I don't have a new recipe to link to share....rather I just wanted to take a moment to highlight a product from one of the Brookside Market vendors that I have been particularly enjoying during this fleeting moment of the year:  Sacred Sun Cooperative Farm's stone ground cornmeal for polenta and grits.  Earlier in the year I purchased a bag of heirloom red corn polenta...and just this past week I purchased a bag of the more traditional yellow corn.  

I prepare Sacred Sun's polenta with slightly less water than I usually use.  I don't know if it is because the grain is fresher than the polenta I normally have access to...or if it is just the varieties of corn that Sacred Sun grows...but I start with 2 1/2 cups of water for every cup of polenta.  I only add the extra half cup of water (or more) if I need it.  (By contrast, my typical method for making polenta is with a ratio of 3 or 4 parts liquid to one part cornmeal--depending on whether I'm making firm or soft/creamy polenta.)

While on the subject of liquid, I should mention that Jake Johannes of Sacred Sun uses half milk and half water when he makes his polenta.  I have always preferred polenta made with all water.  I feel like you can really taste the flavor of the corn this way, but you should by all means make it with milk if you like.  For those looking for ways to get a little more dairy protein in their diets, making polenta with half milk is a good way to do it.  It will also yield a polenta that is more substantial and filling.

I mentioned that I'm not linking to a new recipe...but I do have some ideas to share.  Once you know how to prepare basic polenta in its creamy or firm form, you can use it as a blank canvas for all kinds of delicious preparations.  (If you are new to homemade polenta, make sure you check out my two earlier posts.)  

I recently served the red polenta in its firm form topped with a medley of sautéed sweet corn and summer squash with cherry tomatoes and a fried egg.  You can make something similar by following my directions for this summer corn sauté.  When I made my sauté I used red onion and didn't add the green beans (but they would be a delicious addition).  I also didn't finish this particular sauté with herb butter...and I added a handful of cherry tomatoes at the end, cooking just until they began to soften (as in this pasta).  If you don't know how to fry a sunny side up egg, you can find out how on this post.

I made some of my recently purchased yellow polenta into a creamy, sweet corn studded bed for a delicious eggplant sauce...topped with some salty-tangy Feta. If sweet corn is no longer available, you can leave it out (but I think you should be able to find it for at least another week or two).  The eggplant sauce was from Ottolenghi's Plenty...but Food52 has posted the recipe if you don't have the book.  Ottolenghi uses the sauce for a cooked purée of sweet corn (rather than true polenta), but I have always served it with traditional polenta.  It is a simple and delicious sauce.  I use olive oil (instead of vegetable oil) and this time when I made it I used 3/4 lb. of Urbavore Farm's slender Japanese eggplants (sliced 3/4-inch thick) instead of one globe eggplant.  The Late Summer Ragoût of Roasted Eggplant & Summer Squash that I posted a few years ago would also be delicious served in exactly the same way. 


Late August/Early September 2017--More Eggplant

Eggplant is having a banner year.  I always look forward to its influx at the market as the heat of summer wears on...eggplant loves the heat...  But this year it has been especially fine--even without the excessive heat.  Almost every grower at the Brookside Farmers' Market has eggplant right now...and should continue to have it for the next few weeks.  Just look at this lovely from Garden of Peace that I found last week:

Because I love eggplant you will find loads of ideas for using up the current abundance right here on my blog.  You can peruse the recipes page...or just follow the Eggplant link.  There should be something for everyone...and enough variety that you will be able to use all of the other wonderful things the market is producing in abundance right now...summer squash, bell peppers, leeks, red and yellow onions and garlic.

This past week I revisited a special recipe--Eggplant Caponata--that I hadn't had for many years.  It is versatile, savory and delicious.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Eggplant Caponata


Late Summer 2017--August means Eggplant

I love eggplant.  This has not always been the case (you can read about the day I learned to love it here).  Setting aside the one (and only) unfortunate experience that I had with eggplant as a child, my dislike of eggplant probably had a lot to do with its appearance....cooked eggplant can look rather unappetizing to the uninitiated.  Which really is too bad.  Because eggplant--when fresh...and properly cooked--is amazingly delicious.

If you are one who has an ambivalent or negative view of eggplant, I hope I can convince you to give it another try.  There are many, many recipes here on my blog.  And now is the time.  Because right now (and through the end of summer and into early fall) is eggplant's moment.  Freshly harvested eggplant has firm, creamy white flesh--with almost no trace of bitterness (which begins to develop as eggplant sits in storage)...and a soft, silken texture when cooked.  It has an affinity for all the wonderful things that are growing right now (tomatoes, sweet peppers, summer--and the beginnings of autumn--squash, sweet summer onions, Swiss chard...) as well as many of the traditional components of the famed Mediterranean diet (herbs like basil, mint, parsley, rosemary, thyme, well as garlic, anchovies, olives, capers, olive oil, and cheese--especially goat's and sheep's milk).  I adore it when combined with chickpeas...and it is fantastic with lamb.  

When shopping for eggplant, choose specimens that are freshly cut (look at the stem), heavy for their size, firm (but not rock hard) and relatively unblemished.  I favor the large globe eggplants (which come in a wide variety of beautiful shades of cream, lavender and deep purple)...but there are also the slender Asian varieties (which come in creams. lavenders, deep purples and greens)...even tiny golf ball sized ones.  Most of the growers at The Brookside Farmers' Market are growing one or more variety of eggplant...and they are all lovely.   Take a quick stroll through the stalls to see what's available.  Then, since the growing season for eggplant is relatively long, sample some from several different vendors over the course of the next few weeks.   

In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, eggplant is also delicious with cream...and I have featured it with cream and goat cheese in two recipes that were inspired by the same Deborah Madison recipe for an eggplant gratin (which is delicious...but not particularly beautiful to look at and consequently not the first thing I would serve someone who is dubious about eggplant...).  

The first is a beautiful tart that includes caramelized onions and roasted sweet peppers.  When I made it recently, I replaced some of the eggplant with a beautiful yellow summer squash (cut and cook it exactly as you are directed to cook the eggplant).  You will find that the recipe is quite flexible and amenable to the addition and substitution of other favorite late summer ingredients (there are suggestions in the original post):

And if making a pie crust isn't your thing, you can enjoy eggplant in a similar creamy custard base in this Eggplant & Swiss Chard gratin.  Paired with a simple salad of sliced, heirloom and cherry tomatoes, summer eating doesn't get much better than this.


Early Spring 2017...through Late Fall...and beyond?--Local Tuscan Kale

Early last March I finally visited the bi-monthly winter market being held by the Brookside Farmers' Market.  I chronicled my visit there...and my chagrin for not having been regular in my attendance all winter a blog post.  One of the things I purchased was a lovely bunch of Tuscan Kale from Stony Crest Urban Farm.  That bunch of kale was so tender and nice that I decided--uncharacteristically for me--to make a salad.  

Tuscan Kale Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing, Sunflower Seeds & Currants

Stony Crest has continued to have beautiful Tuscan (and other varieties of) kale ever since.  I featured their Red Russian Kale in a grain pilaf back in late May.  A couple of weeks ago I turned another bunch of their Tuscan kale into another kale salad...this time with Sweet Corn, Italian Sausage and Pecans.  This is a salad to tempt anyone...even if they think they don't like kale...

If you haven't yet tried kale....or haven't enjoyed the kale you have tried...I recommend sampling some of theirs (or some from any one of the growers at the market).  Grocery store kale can be a mixed bag...sometimes so tough and leathery that it doesn't seem to want to cook at all.  (I wouldn't even consider using such a specimen in a salad).  The local kale I have found at the Brookside Farmers' Market has always been tender and flavorful--appropriate for cooking...or for consuming raw, in a salad.

Summer Kale Salad with Roasted Sweet Corn, Italian Sausage & Pecans


Summer 2017--Pinkeye Purple Hull Southern Peas

For years now, one of my favorite things to purchase from local growers has been Pinkeye Purple Hull Southern Peas. Widely grown and enjoyed in the South, here in Kansas City we appear to be on the Northern edge of their not everyone is familiar with them. But these delicious--and beautiful!--shell beans are definitely worth seeking out...for eating fresh now...and also for freezing for the fall and winter months. The only drawback to these little peas is the work involved in shelling them. Unlike Lima beans--or even English shelling peas--the Pinkeyes are a bit tedious to shell. The peas tend to stick in the long purple pods...and the pods themselves sometimes resist your efforts to split them open and pull the halves apart. Nevertheless, I have always found it to be worth the time involved.

Shelled and ready to use (what a luxury!) Pinkeye Purple Hull Southern Peas 

But since not everyone enjoys these kinds of slow, detailed and contemplative kitchen tasks, I was more than pleased to see that a couple of the growers at the Brookside Market (Ki Koko Farms and Mama Tu's Farm) are selling pinkeye peas that have already been shelled. Since practically all of the work of cooking these is in the shelling process (the rest of the process is a quiet simmer)...there is no reason not to try these special little peas. I use them in almost any dish that calls for fresh summer shell beans (succotash...soupe au pistou...).

When I brought some home this past Saturday, I decided to use them in a salad featuring some of my favorite summer vegetables--eggplant and sweet bell peppers.  The salad can be served room temperature or chilled...and it was just the thing for the hot and steamy day on Saturday.  

I purchased my eggplant from Urbavore...they grow an amazing number of beautiful varieties...and my bell peppers from Green Gate Family Farm.  But both peppers and eggplant will be abundant for weeks, and many of the growers at Brookside will have both.  In particular I wanted to mention the lovely peppers that will be available at Stony Crest Urban Farm.  Last year I maintained a constant supply of their beautiful peppers.  When I asked last week, they told me they would have them again this year. 


Mid July 2017--Summer Roots and Squash....and Chicken...

I have wanted to write a chicken post all summer so I could feature the delicious pastured chickens from David's Pasture.  If you have read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (I highly recommend it, if you have not), you are familiar with the name Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm.  David's Pasture has adopted many of Salatin's techniques...and is raising chicken, turkey, beef, pork and lamb in a "sustainable, and pasture-based" manner.  The result is nutritious and delicious food...and healthy animals.  If you eat meat...what could be better than that?  

For my post I chose to make a braise.  It is one of my favorite techniques and I would love it if more people were comfortable with this slow, moist heat technique that uses some of the tougher, more neglected cuts...and produces tender, juicy, flavorful results.  It is a technique that I most often use during the fall and winter months...but I chose to use it for a Moroccan Chicken Couscous with a spice and heat that is a perfect match for the summer weather. 

Also featured in my couscous recipe are the fantastic golden ball turnips, beautiful bi-colored yellow and pale green summer squash and sweet carrots from Urbavore.  I'm certain the carrots and squash will continue to be available...but the golden turnips may be done.  If they are, rest assured that regular purple top--or all white--turnips will be fine in this dish.  Furthermore, almost all of the growers are selling carrots and summer squash right now.  Any carrot...and any kind of summer squash...would be delicious in this dish.

Golden Couscous with Chicken, Carrots, Turnips & Summer Squash


Early July 2017--Summer Abundance...

I have been enjoying the cabbage from Brookside growers so much that I wanted to share at least one more recipe that featured it....this time in a coleslaw.  But what a coleslaw!  This is not your tired fast food or BBQ shack coleslaw....  Chock full of summer corn, sweet juicy carrots, crisp kohlrabi and fresh will turn the most devoted cabbage hater into an admirer.  You will be able to find most of the ingredients for this slaw...cabbage, carrots, kohlrabi, and red almost every stall at the market.  Fresh herbs are in abundance right now, so look for the dill, parsley and mint at the market too.   (And do seek them out so you can make your own dressing.  I know it would be tempting to purchase the ranch dressing for this salad, but it is so easy to make from scratch... and so good that you will never want to purchase it again!)

Unfortunately, I haven't seen any sweet corn at Brookside yet this year....but Green Gate Family Farms has told me that they hope to have some in a couple of weeks.  In the mean time, it is widely available.  (Make sure you purchase corn that hasn't been sprayed.  A worm or two is a good indication of this.)  

Two of the Brassicas...Broccolini and Kohlrabi...
Because the cole crops (cabbage, kale, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi...)--also called Brassicas...or cruciferous vegetables--are abundant right now and will soon be drawing to a close (they tend to be cool season crops), I wanted to include in my collection of Brookside Market recipes a dish that features a relatively new--and increasingly popular--member of the Brassica family:  Broccolini.  Broccolini is a broccoli hybrid, with long slender (and more tender) stems and smaller florets.  If you have never tried broccolini, this simple and delicious pasta would be great first taste.  I purchased my broccolini from Ki Koko Farms, but I have also seen it at Mama Tus and Garden of Peace.

Late June 2017--Cabbage (and kohlrabi...and the end of the English shelling peas...)

As market chef one of my goals is to stay slightly ahead of the curve when it comes to the incoming harvest.  It doesn't do you (the buyer, cook and eater) much good to know how to make something fantastic with asparagus if I happened to grab the last of the asparagus for a recipe I then post and share.  I have asked the growers to help me out a bit by letting me know when they are anticipating that a crop will come in...and if it will have a short or a long run.  Happily, a few weeks ago, Laura of Blue Door Farm mentioned that cabbage was going to be hitting the market in a couple of weeks. The early Napas are, I believe, finished at this point, but the large green/white cabbages are in full swing and the Savoys and Red cabbages will follow.   Since these all store well, you should grab them while they are available and ask the growers about the best way to keep what you are unable to use right away.  The cabbages I used for this post came from the aforementioned Blue Door Farm (Laura has also had fantastic beets, carrots, chard and kale...hopefully these will continue for a while) and Ki Koko Farms (mentioned in previous market posts).

I am sharing a recipe for cooked cabbage...because I think cooked cabbage is a harder sell than raw.  Americans tend to like coleslaw and salads that resemble coleslaw.  But cooked cabbage suffers from childhood aversions.  This is too bad.  Cooked cabbage--when prepared properly--is delicious.  If you are dubious, you should give it a try anyway.  The investment for a small head is not great...and you can make your favorite coleslaw with whatever portion of the head that you don't cook.  (Cabbage goes a long way...seeming to explode in volume once cut).  If you don't have a favorite cabbage slaw or salad recipe, I am including a different and delicious recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi (one of my favorite chefs) in this post.  His salad also included kohlrabi, dill (which are both abundant at the market right now) and alfalfa shoots (which you can pick up at Be Love Too Farm).  Kohlrabi too seems to be a hard sell--people just don't know what to do with it--so this recipe will get you started in that department too.

Unfortunately the peas that I used in my Buttered Cabbage recipe have probably made their last appearance at the market for the year.  But hopefully you purchased enough while they were abundant that you were able to freeze some.  (And, if you don't have access to nice fresh or frozen peas...and you want to try your hand at cooking might check out my post from a few years ago for Cabbage with Sweet Corn and Bacon.)  

In any case, since the cabbage will continue for awhile...and I have been enjoying the cabbages that I have purchased so much....I anticipate that in the coming month I will be posting at least one more recipe that uses it.

Buttered Cabbage with Peas, Prosciutto & Herbs (and a bonus recipe for Cabbage & Kohlrabi Salad from Yotam Ottolenghi)


Mid June 2017--Sugar Snap and Snow Peas, Fresh Fennel, Radishes, Young Carrots, Salad Turnips, Iceberg & Romaine a Late Spring Salad with Feta, Olives, & Mint

As with last week's market recipe, this week's recipe is for a medley of vegetables.  But whereas my last recipe was for a quiet and muted dish of gently stewed vegetables, this week's is the polar opposite—a vibrant and zesty combination of raw and lightly cooked late spring vegetables.  You can use peas of all kinds, radishes, salad turnips, young carrots, fresh fennel and romaine or iceberg lettuce..I'm sure you will find something to enjoy that I missed.  

You can also use the beautiful "shoots" (like "sprouts," but grown in soil) from Be Love Too Farm in this salad.  I had never experienced anything other than a pea shoot before I stopped at Andrea's stall a few weeks ago.  I was intrigued and impressed by the flavor and texture of their shoots (not to mention their nutritional value). I especially liked the sunflower shoots (they have a subtle crunch and taste like sunflower seeds!).  I enjoyed them in several different variations of this week's salad.   

As for the rest of the ingredients, every grower at the market has at least one of these items.  So, instead of mentioning them all, I will simply encourage you to go to the market and explore.  Buy an unfamiliar ingredient from a grower you frequent regularly...and buy something familiar from a stall you might not have stopped at before.  In so doing, you will expand your circle of friends and your palate at the same time. 


Early June 2017--Spinach, Asparagus, Peas, Green Garlic & Spring a Simple Medley to Serve with Ricotta & Baked Polenta

As we move through the growing season I have a more difficult time each week limiting my purchases to what I can reasonably consume.  Instead of limiting the variety of things I buy, I start buying small quantities of lots of I can have just a taste of all the beautiful things on offer.  As a consequence of this I frequently find myself making mixed vegetable preparations...pastas, pizzas, grain pilafs or frittatas (just to name a few of my "go to" options).  This spring I have rediscovered firm polenta.  It is the perfect backdrop for mixed vegetable preparations of all kinds. 

The vegetable medley I made this week for my polenta features spinach and green garlic from Ki Koko Farms, spring onions from Stony Crest Urban Farm, Asparagus from Urbavore Urban Farm...and English Peas (one of the best things to buy at the farmers' market) from Ami of Red Ridge Farms.  Ami's stall at the market reminds me of the way I shop this time of year...incredible variety.  Not only is there a beautiful array of different things...Ami and her family grow unusual things.  Last year she had Fava beans (I have never met anyone else growing them in our area) and in the fall figs (my favorite!).  The peas I purchased last week were so tender and sweet I wanted to sit down and just shell them and eat them on the spot.  I am looking forward to more!  

Baked Polenta with Ricotta & a Medley of Spring Vegetables


Late May 2017--Kale, Young Carrots, Green Garlic & Spring a Savory Grain Pilaf

Last spring I posted a recipe for a spring freekeh pilaf featuring kale and peas. (If you've never cooked with freekeh, check out my intro post from a few years ago.)  When I posted the recipe I emphasized that it was really just a template for making a pilaf with whatever you had on hand or or had brought home from the market.  Recipes like this are foundational for cooking locally and seasonally.  I reemphasized this point when I posted the same recipe again in the fall with a whole other palate of flavors and ingredients--the constant between the two versions being the style of the pilaf  and the Red Russian kale. 

One of my favorite items to get from the local markets is Red Russian Kale.  (It is easier to clean than curly kale...and I find it to be a bit more tender than Tuscan kale--although I use Red Russian and Tuscan interchangeably in most recipes.)  When I think of Stony Crest Urban Farm's stall at the Brookside market, one of the things I think of is a beautiful display of greens--lettuces, spinach, chard, collards...and kale of all kinds.  I have to stand and think carefully about what to buy because I would like to buy them all...but I know we would never be able to eat so much in a week.  I usually get at least one bunch of chard or kale.  Both are excellent in pilafs and grain bowls.

Besides greens, Stony Crest has had beautiful young carrots for several weeks now.  I posted a recipe using their carrots (along with the tops!) a couple of weeks ago.  I thought their carrots would be pretty fine in my spring freekeh pilaf in place of the peas...and they were.  I have posted the details of my early spring variation at the bottom of last year's post.

A Freekeh Pilaf for Early Spring


May 2017--Asparagus, Green Garlic & Spring a Pizza

I have not been officially introduced to many of the growers at the market yet (I've only interacted with them up to this point as an avid shopper!), so I don't have a lot of background information on many of them to share.  But I can tell you that they all produce beautiful and amazing food.  And as the season progresses and I get to know each of the growers better, I will, I hope, be able to tell a little bit more about each of them when I post recipes that use their produce. 

The asparagus in this pizza was purchased from Brooke & Dan of Urbavore Urban Farm (located in the urban core of Kansas City, MO).  I have been purchasing local asparagus during asparagus season for more years than I can account for...but I have never found any asparagus quite like theirs.  I have always preferred medium (1/2-inch thick or so) spears of asparagus (and they grow varieties of this size—it's what I used in the pizza)—but they also grow big, fat, beefy spears of not only green, but also purple asparagus.  I am in love.  They grow green garlic too...but the green garlic (and the spring onions) that I used in the pizza recipe came from Ki Koko Farms in Kansas City, Kansas.  In addition to a gorgeous array of spring onions (in a wide variety of sizes) and garlic, you will also find beautifully pristine and perky herbs and greens at their stall right now.  

Pizza with Green Garlic Cream, Asparagus & Mushrooms


June 2016--My first visit to the Brookside Market.   

I visited the Brookside Market the first time so I could purchase some of the beautiful things I had been able to get from Brooke & Dan of Urbavore Urban Farm when they still had a stall at my old market.  I was unprepared for the beauty and bounty that I would find every single stall.  As I wrote in this first post about Brookside, I was captivated.  The stalls were overflowing with greens (braising and salad), onions, new potatoes, peas of all kinds, broccoli, baby root vegetables and the tail end of the strawberries.  I have been a regular customer ever since.

Market Ragoût of New Fingerling Potatoes, Young Carrots & English Peas

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