I am not an impulse shopper when it comes to clothes or everyday groceries. I’m a disciplined gal, sticking to my list. However, when it comes to farmers’ markets, I cannot resist the jewel-toned eggplants, the deep green and curling kale leaves, the delicate mushrooms. Many times a summer I find myself with a counter full of fruits and vegetables without a clue as to how to integrate them into my week’s meal planning.
We are lucky to have a number of farmers’ markets in Boone and Callaway Counties (see our local produce subject guide for details). If you, like me, want to make sure your locally sourced veggies don’t wind up rotting in your crisper drawer, check out some of these cookbooks for delicious inspiration.
Williams-Sonoma’s “Cooking From the Farmers’ Market” includes not only recipes but also helpful tips for picking the freshest produce and best ways to prepare various fruits and vegetables. The pictures are gorgeous, and there are three recipes provided for each ingredient highlighted. Many of the recipes are simple with minimal ingredient lists — when the produce is fresh, you can let that sun-ripened flavor be the star of the show. I can’t wait to try baked eggs with spinach and cream or sugar snap pea risotto!
Greta Hardin, author of “Cooking your Local Produce,” says that the question that inspired her writing of the book was, “What do I do with rainbow chard?” (Sounds like me and my kale.) Chapter headings are so appealingly simple — leaves, shoots, flowers, roots, etc. — and the recipes themselves not at all intimidating. Suggested preparations are simple, and Hardin offers up variations if you want to experiment further with a particular ingredient.
“In Season,” edited by Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld, takes the seasons of the year as its organizing principle. The recipes here are quite a bit fancier, as they are contributed by some of the country’s finest chefs and restaurants. For instance, you can impress dinner guests in winter with a celery root and citrus salad, and you can class up a summer potluck by bringing a dessert of baked squash blossoms with ricotta and honey.
Using local produce and eating what’s in season is a fantastic way to try new foods or discover new preparations for old favorites. Bon appétit!