Again this year my garden is a bust – the grasshoppers ate the bark right off the trees so I harvested the root crops and am enjoying one of the best local farmer’s markets in the Midwest. Since it is prime fresh food season here in Kansas, there is much to choose from.
Last week I was at the farmer’s market just before the 7:00 a.m. opening and I could hardly find a place to park. By the time I had circulated to my favorite farmers, lines had formed, particularly for tomatoes, and produce was flying off the shelves.
I am convinced that the only reason people don’t buy many of the seasonal vegetables is because they haven’t had a very good experience either with eating some foods, or cooking it. Sure, we all love home-grown organic tomatoes, but when it comes to squash or perhaps collard greens or beets, most wave a resistive hand and pass it by. I have to admit those lumps of overcooked zucchini often served at restaurants are unappealing.
Don’t like squash? Try this recipe that I learned from my New Mexico neighbors years ago – they also taught me how to roast the green chiles which are included in the recipe. This recipe is wonderful and uses the very vegetables that are ripe right now and that are so good for you – some onions, chiles, squash, and corn – and you can throw in some tomatoes if you like. Besides, the name is fun to say and the kids like to practice their Spanish.
3-4 zucchini or yellow squash, sliced or diced
1 large onion, chopped
3 T oil
¼ t garlic salt or 2 cloves of the fresh garlic like I picked this week
1 4 oz. can of green chilies, or fresh if the market has them
3 ears of fresh sweet corn
1 c of grated cheese
You sauté the squash and onion in oil until barely tender. Add the garlic, chilies, corn and cheese; mix well. Put in a buttered casserole dish and bake at 400 for 20 minutes, or just add the cheese and cover until it melts. Some people put bacon bits or a little leftover chicken or meat and make it a meal.
My suggestion to anyone new to local vegetables is to simply ask how to cook things – ask the gal standing next to you or the farmer selling things. Saturday I walked up to Mary, one of my favorite farmers, and when she saw me she immediately said “Oh, Jo, good to see you. Do I have a recipe for you!”
Buy a local or vegetable cookbook if you need to, but just keep trying some of the marvelous recipes that incorporate fresh food. It won’t take long to convert the entire family to organic and/or fresh produce. Wasn’t it Michael Pollen that summed it up as “Just eat real food?” The funny thing is, when I tried to verify that quote I found dozens of listings on the quote – there is a Just Eat Real Food UK, a site on Facebook, and videos and websites galore. So whoever said it, I most certainly agree. I raise my fork to eating local and eating real.