As many people are want to do weekly, we headed to the Farmer's Market on Sunday. It is amazing how Farmer's Markets have changed over the past few decades - completely aside from the fact that there are so many more than there used to be.
They have grown not only in numbers but in scope as well. I remember them being small events consisting of produce vendors, the occasional jewelry stand and a few scout groups selling their ware. Nowadays, it is full of organic produce, music, flowers, artisan foods of jams, cookies, tamales, baskets, pottery - you name it, chances are, whether it be food related or not, you'll find them at your nearest market. Here is a great site for locating a Farmer's Market: Local Harvest.
I could do without the animal body parts, which are also quite common these days, but overall, I'm very happy with how far things have come and am looking forward to seeing more support for the markets and, hence, even more progress.
In addition to going to the market for fresh produce, I also go for inspiration. You'll never know what special herb, or common one for that matter, will be the trigger for your next dish. For me, it was grape tomatoes and garlic chives.
Since I also subscribe to our local CSA box, I had an eggplant hanging around that needed to be cooked. That's when things really took off.
I cooked the whole eggplant in a skillet until tender - reminiscent of Baba Ghanoush, where the eggplant is roasted whole, thereby imparting a smoky flavor. I chopped the cauliflower into pieces about the size of rice and sauteed it with garlic, I sauteed the green beans and tomatoes with lemon juice and, finally, I made the eggplant into a vinaigrette.
Sounds like a mouthful, but everything balanced out beautifully and it was a perfect, post-Farmer's Market meal. As a bonus, the remaining vinaigrette (which only contains a few tablespoons of oil) serves as a wonderful dip for raw veggies.
The best thing about this salad was that most of the ingredients went from ground to plate in twenty-four hours - almost as good as having my very own garden in the backyard.
Farmer's Market Salad with Eggplant Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon neutral oil, divided
1 medium eggplant, about 1 pound
1 medium cauliflower, coarsely chopped
5 garlic cloves, halved, plus 2 teaspoons minced, divided
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
8 ounces green beans, trimmed
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, divided
¼ cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini
2 teaspoons chipotle in adobo
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
6 cups fresh spinach
1. Coat the eggplant with the oil. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the whole eggplant and cover the skillet with a stainless steel bowl. This will create smoke; use a kitchen fan to keep the air clean. Turn the eggplant a quarter turn when the bottom is charred. Turn as needed until the eggplant is tender. Cool the eggplant and peel. Set aside.
2. Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until the size of grains of rice. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cauliflower, the halved garlic cloves, season with salt and black pepper, and stir and cook until golden, about 7 minutes. Set aside.
3. Toss the green beans, tomatoes, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon oil, minced garlic and season with salt and black pepper. Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium heat and cook the green beans until charred and crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Set aside. Add the tomatoes to the grill pan and cook only until lightly charred, about 1 minutes. Set aside.
4. Add the peeled eggplant, vegetable broth, olive oil, tahini, chipotle, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and any garlic you can pick out of the cauliflower saute to a personal blender. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and black pepper and stir in the chives.
5. Toss the spinach with about ¼ cup of the vinaigrette and serve with the cauliflower, green beans and tomatoes.
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I am linking to these recipe parties: Healthy Vegan Fridays, What I Ate Wednesday and Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.