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Navigate a Farmer’s Market Like a Pro

Tips to Navigating a Farmer’s Market

Radishes, Peas, Beets, oh my! April is one of our favorite months of the year not only because of the blissful feeling of change and warmer weather that accompanies the season, but also because it is the freshest, most vibrant time of the “food year.” In other words, it’s no coincidence to see more fresh and local options popping up in stores and markets alike.

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There's nothing better than fresh green beans from the farmer's market

 

We’ve been talking a lot lately about the importance of sustainability, supporting local vendors, and why it matters to shop (and eat) seasonally. But let’s take a step backwards. Before you rinse off those store-bought strawberries, grab a big tote bag, put on some sunnies, and venture out to one of this city’s local farmer’s markets. Don’t know where to start (or end?) --We’re here to help! Turning a leisurely farmer’s market stroll into a productive pursuit for both your waist and wallet can feel intimidating, but with some insights from both Deborah and Executive Chef Wendt, prepare to get inspired by the flavors of the season and navigate a farmer’s market like a true pro!

To start, we head to the Union Square Greenmarket at least once a week in search of the freshest, juiciest produce and other delicious seasonal treats. Held every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, (year round, too) from 8:00am to 6:00pm, this farmer’s market features 140 regional farmers, fishers, bakers and vendors—unparalleled for a city like New York.

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Tips & Tricks:

  1. Have a game plan:

When navigating a local outside market the first thing to do is have a game plan: “I always try to plan in advance—to a degree,” said Chef Wendt. I try to have an idea of what I want in my weekly haul. For example, am I doing meats and cheeses? Fruits and Veggies? Or am I just there to check out local vendors and eat? I would say to definitely write down what you need, get it, and then explore. Once I find what I want I then go to check out new vendors and nosh on some kind of delicious sweet treat.” In other words, definitely go with a plan so that you don’t necessarily impulse buy everything your eyes (and stomach) are craving, but make sure to treat yourself too.

  1. Do a loop:

“I would also say to map it out first,” said Deborah. I never start buying or tasting anything until I’ve done a big old loop of the place! It gives me an idea of where everything is and I get excited thinking about what I want to purchase and eat.” Plus, with over 100 vendors in one setting, it’s easy to assume many of them are selling the same thing. Once you narrow your vendors down, the easier and more efficient your haul will be

  1. Ask questions:

“One of the reasons I love going to local markets is because of how passionate the vendors are about their products,” said Chef Wendt. Often, vendors will explain how to perfectly cook or prepare what their selling, or offer “insider tips” on how to serve and store the food. “It’s a completely different experience,” said Deborah. “And it really makes the typical humdrum food shopping experience genuinely special because it’s not just produce. There are small crafters, florists and other makers who are so talented. It’s such a treat”

 

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Navigate like a pro with tips from Deborah and Chef Wendt!

 

Farmer’s Market Finds & Final Products:

Now that you can peruse your local farmer’s market like a seasoned pro, check out some fun, delicious and seasonal recipes that work for both a small or large crowd-plus the perfect “April Shower-“ inspired cocktail. Bon appetite!

  • What’s in season: Beets
    Recipe: Beet Salad with Carrot, Quinoa & Spinach
    Dietary Restrictions: GF, V

Beet Salad with Carrot, Quinoa & Spinach (GF) (V)
½ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 cup frozen organic edamame
⅓ Cup slivered almonds or pumpkin seeds
1 medium raw beet, peeled
1 medium-to-large carrot (or 1 additional medium beet), peeled
2 cups packed baby spinach or arugula, roughly chopped
1 avocado, cubed

  • What’s in season: Asparagus
    Recipe: Roasted Asparagus with Lemon and Parmesan
    Dietary Restrictions: GF, VG

Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan and Toasted Almonds
1 large bunch (about 1 pound) fresh asparagus
1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Zest and juice of ½ medium lemon, preferably organic
Lemon wedges, from the remaining ½ lemon
Sprinkle of finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Small handful fresh mint, finely chopped
Light sprinkle of red pepper flakes

  • What’s in season: Peas
    Recipe: Goat Cheese and Egg Toasts with Peas & Dill
    Dietary Restrictions: VG

Goat cheese & egg toast with fresh peas and dill
Per toast
1 slice hearty whole grain bread
1½ ounces goat cheese, softened
1 egg, fried, or 2 eggs, scrambled
Handful fresh peas
Light sprinkling of chopped fresh dill (or mint, chives, parsley or basil)
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

April Shower Spring Cocktail
4 ounces gin
2 ounces fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 ounces ruby red grapefruit juice
Edible flowers for garnish (optional)

To get the most out of your shopping experience, here are some final quick and helpful pointers from Deborah and Chef Wendt:

  1. Most vendors only take cash, so make sure to come prepared with both large and small bills
  2. Branch out! While it’s great to still have a general plan of attack, be open to new and exciting foods. Never tried dragon fruit or fiddlehead ferns? Now’s your chance
  3. Finally, bring a friend! Farmer’s markets are such a fun and social experience, so why not bring a friend or family member along with you? It makes the browsing (and eating) process more enjoyable.

 

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Now what’s stopping you? You’re ready to take on the streets (or rather aisles) of one of New York City’s markets like any seasoned chef or culinary connoisseur! Hungry for more recipes? Head on over to our blog to check out more recipes and interviews with our executive chef and Deborah. Stay tuned next week when we talk about successful  how to throw the perfect Cinco de Mayo celebration with friends.

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Farmer's Market's aren't just for food! Often, vendors will sell fun crafts, flowers and gifts

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