Forget the Ides of March. Who wants to spend this glorious month worrying about what will happen? Just because Julius Caesar lost his head doesn’t mean we have to.
This is a month to celebrate. The Earth is showing signs of renewal everywhere and nowhere more so than at the market.
It appears I am not the only person who thinks shopping at farmers’ markets and eating in season is a good idea. I am seeing more and more articles and blog posts about how important it is, how to shop at market on a budget, how to prepare seasonal food and so on. Even the provincial government is getting behind produce for all and has recently introduced a tax credit for farmers who donate leftover produce — what a great idea.
March is the perfect month to begin consistently visiting the market. Greens are popping up at more of the farmers’ booths and it won’t be long before the bedding plants arrive, too. In the meantime, a lot of wonderful food is available.
According to the guidelines established by the BC Association of Farmers Markets, a farmers’ market must consist of 60% primary food producers. That encompasses farmers as well as meat and dairy growers.
We are so fortunate to have three meat producers and one cheese maker at the Port Moody market. One of my favourite meals is a frittata, salad, fresh bread and a simple dessert. It’s a really easy meal to put together from the market vendors, starting with the meat producers.
Redl’s Beef has the sausage, Rockweld farms have the eggs and Golden Ears Cheesecrafters have the cheese.
All you have to do is cut the sausage into pieces (two sausages are plenty) or remove it from the casing and sauté it, throw in a handful of chopped onions, and let it all cook until the meat is no longer pink. Meanwhile, beat six eggs together with a bit of salt and pepper (even better if it’s flavoured salt from The Salt Dispensary) and pour it over the meat. Let it cook over medium low heat, stirring for the first minute or so, then let it cook through. A lid will help speed things up.
Put a big handful of grated cheese on top during the last three or four minutes of cooking.
The beauty of a frittata is that you can use whatever meat and cheese you have on hand and it will always be good.
Some lovely spring greens from Nutrigreens on the side, along with some crust bread from A Bread Affair or Gesundheit and you are good to go. You can even get grass-fed butter from Golden Ears to put on the bread.
Finish the whole meal with a lovely lemon tart from Sweet Thea. There you have it, another entire meal from the market.
A great variation on the above ingredients is a savoury bread pudding. That is another of my easy meals. If you plan ahead, you can use the other half of the ingredients you bought to make the frittata. This time, cube the rest of the bread and place it in a greased casserole. Sauté the sausage and onion as you did for the frittata and add it to the bread. Mix six eggs with three cups of whole milk (whole milk is critical) and pour it all over the bread and sausage. Season it with salt and pepper. Let the casserole stand for a few minutes, then bake in a 350 F oven for and hour or so, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let it rest for 15 minutes then serve, again with a side of greens. Perfection!
Two totally different meals, from the same ingredients, for about $25.
If you want to spend even less, a bowl of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich makes a great meal. Once again, market bread and cheese are the staples.
--Karen Curtis is the Lemonade Lady (kicslemonade.ca and kicslemonade.blogspot.ca) at the Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam farmers markets. Her column runs monthly.
RECIPE: TRY A HEARTY AND TASTY VEGGIE SOUP
I’ll leave you with a proper recipe for carrot and lentil soup from acedarspoon.com. Stop by Forstbauer’s for the carrots — you will never get your carrots anywhere else.
carrot & lentil souP
2 tbsp olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
7 medium-sized carrots, peeled and chopped (try roasting them first for an even more flavourful soup)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 cups red lentils, rinsed until water runs clear
1-15 oz. can diced tomatoes
6 cups vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh cilantro, fresh lemon juice, crushed red pepper to garnish
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until soft and add the spices (about 5 to 6 minutes). Add the carrots and sauté until carrots are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the vegetable broth, diced tomatoes and lentils, and stir to combine. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
Serve soup with fresh cilantro, crushed red pepper and fresh lemon juice.
To create a creamy soup, use a blender and blend soup in portions or use an immersion blender in the pot.