One of the best ways to get the freshest local and seasonal foods is to hit up the Farmer’s Market. If you have access to a Farmer’s Market near you, you are so lucky!! Here in SoCal, we are very fortunate to have Farmer’s Markets all year long, and pretty much every day of the week! But for those of you who may only have the Farmer’ Market during certain times of the year, or are new to navigating the outdoor market, I have some tips to help you make the most of the Market and make sure you go home with bags full of goodies and a smile on your face!
The finds of the day: strawberries, squash blossoms, and cherry tomatoes
1. Do the Market Crawl: The very first thing I do when I get to the market is walk the entire market before I buy anything. The goal of making one’s way around the market without shelling out any cash is to help you get the most bang for your buck! Scope out which stands have the goods and produce you like, and keep the price in mind. As you walk through the market, you may find better looking and/or less expensive produce of the same kind at another stand. Case in point: I had my eye on a pint of strawberries. One stand had a pint for five dollars, but another stand not too far away was selling some gorgeous berries for only three dollars a pint. #bargainhunter
*One exception to the price rule: Do not pay less money for a product that is less than satisfactory in appearance or flavor. If lettuce looks wilted or the apples taste bland, spending a few more dollars for a better product will result in a beautiful, more flavorful end result, aka, what ends up on your plate.
The prettiest flowers come from the Farmer’s Market
2. Tag-team with a friend: If you go to the market with a friend, it can be a major cost reduction for you both. Yes those giant flats of blueberries look incredible, but there is no way you could finish them off before they start to go bad. (unless you freeze them for smoothies). If you and a friend split the cost and the actual goodies, you can both leave the market knowing that the food you bought (and the money you spent on it) won’t end up going to waste because you couldn’t use it all in time.
3. Go with an open mind: I am a firm believer of sticking to a list (it keeps you focused and helps you resist temptations from things you don’t really need), but I also like to shop with an open mind. Whenever I shop, I always make a little challenge with myself to get something that I am not used to cooking or that I haven’t had before. You never know what you will find-perhaps a new favorite food! This technique really stretches you to be more adventurous in the kitchen. On this particular shopping trip, my “challenge” food was squash blossoms. I looooooove squash blossoms, but I have only had them at restaurants or served stuffed with cheese. So delicious and decadent, but I was thinking up ways to serve up squash blossoms on the lighter side, which brings me to the recipe…
Pasta with Sautéed Squash Blossoms and Zucchini!!! This is a total Farmer’s Market recipe. I used up the squash blossoms, (which were conveniently still attached to the squash used in the recipe), and I also used the cherry tomatoes I found freshly picked at the market. This recipe is quite simple and is perfect for a summer pasta dish, served hot or cold, which makes it ideal for picnics and dining al fresco!
- 1, 9 oz package of fresh pasta- I love using fresh pasta! Once you go fresh, you don’t go back! 🙂 The texture is absolutely divine. Of course, a package of dried pasta will taste great, too.
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 12 squash blossoms with squash attached- if squash blossoms are not attached to the squash, 3 medium zucchini will work perfectly
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- oil, for misting the pan
- pesto, for serving
- parmesan cheese, for serving
- Follow package instructions for making pasta. While water is boiling, put a large pan over medium-high heat. Mist pan with oil.
- Add cherry tomatoes to the pan. Roughly julienne the squash blossoms and slice the zucchini into ribbons. Add zucchini to the pan, stirring occasionally. Cook until tomatoes have burst and zucchini soften, about 10 minutes. Season with pepper. Add squash blossoms and cooked pasta to the pan, stirring just enough to coat the pasta and wilt the blossoms.
- To serve, add a dollop of pesto to each plate of pasta, and grate parmesan over the top of the dish.
Tell me- what are your favorite finds at the Farmer’s Market? Let me know if you have any tips for navigating the market, too! Have an amazing weekend, and check out the Farmer’s Market!