Farmers market salad is made with fresh fruit and vegetables from a farmers market, topped with healthy grains and a delicious and tangy lemon-basil dressing. It is delicious on its own for a light lunch, or add a protein of your choice to make a complete meal.
Originally Published in the Greenwood Daily Journal July 15, 2011
There are many great things about summer that we all can universally enjoy. One of them is our local farmers market. Not many could argue that this open air fresh, locally grown shopping experience is not a real treat on an early Saturday morning. Going to the market is somewhat of a summer tradition in my family, and in the last few years, many winter markets have also cropped up all over central Indiana.
Being from Bloomington, where one of the largest and best organized markets in the area is held weekly, I was excited at the emergence of a market several years ago here in Greenwood. It has been a process, but I really feel like the vendors are growing and selling some great products here in the library parking lot every week.
Most recently, my son and I made an early Saturday morning trip specifically to get corn. I was really in the mood for some fresh, sweet corn but I thought it may have been too early. I was pleasantly surprised when I immediately found a stand selling great corn at a great price to boot!
We wandered from booth to booth, tasting jams and salsa, taking pictures of beautiful green beans, meeting new people and making several purchases. When all was said and done I bought blueberries, a cantaloupe, a bag of greens, green onions, a loaf of bread, a dozen zucchini, a large bunch of basil and 2 large heirloom tomatoes.
All of those things are in my delicious farmers market salad!
I have found over the years that I buy what looks and sounds good and go from there. This method may not work for some, but for me it brings me recipe inspiration. I like to lay it all out when I get home and think, ‘I can make this with this…and I have the ingredients to make that’. My thought process is pretty simple. Make a fresh meal, like a farmers market salad, that we all can enjoy, from the bounty that local producers offer at the farmers market.
Meeting the growers and learning their back story is just part of the appeal of the fresh market to me. I take a measure of comfort knowing that my beans were grown in fields I have driven by myself and freshly picked and packed. This is not always possible in the non-growing months but when it is I really take advantage of it!
What I really love is that visiting the farmers market is something that my family, in particular, likes to do together. I sometimes give each of my kids five dollars and let them buy whatever looks good to them. They get to make their own little purchases and it is always interesting to see what they choose. Sometimes you can tell how hungry they are or what they are in the mood for by what ends up in their bags.
One time, one of them bought a dozen sticks of honey. When I asked why, he said because they looked pretty in the little glass they were displayed in. Or my oldest, always on the hunt for apples, will buy way more that we can eat in 2 weeks. All for his five dollar bill. Getting the family involved in this experience really broadens their horizons, shining a light on the importance of ‘eating where you live’.
We watched a great cooking demo from Bloomingfoods. The chef made fresh strawberry shortcake. The strawberries had thyme and mint, along with maple syrup. It was to die for..how do I know you ask? We got to sample what he made! Bonus: he gave me his strawberry shortcake recipe!
So what I came up with that day is a farmers market salad that alone, makes a wonderful side or light lunch.
But with the addition of cooked grains and a little chicken or smoked salmon, this farmers market salad bowl makes a fantastic dinner!
Whole grains plus a generous amount of berries, means that this salad is loaded with antioxidants and potassium. Use what you have on hand. I had quinoa on my salad and the rest of my family had brown rice. If you have a little left over meat, like some ham or rotisserie chicken, that would be great on this as well.
The lemon-basil dressing is so fresh tasting and delicious, I could drink it from a straw. ????