Fill Your Plates With Farmers Market Finds

Summertime is the ideal time for a family outing to your local farmers’ market. Not only will you have fun, it’s a terrific way to get your children excited about trying fruits and vegetables.

Why do I buy from a farmers’ market? There are so many good reason! To start, the produce is local and was probably picked that morning. It is at the peak of freshness and just tastes better. It’s also more affordable and I am supporting local jobs when I shop there. I can offer my family a variety of specialty fruits and vegetables that we would never find at the store.

Finally, farmers’ markets are a great way to enjoy the fresh air and explore with my family. Here are some great activities my kids like that your family can do, too.

Rainbow Scavenger Hunt: Find a fruit or vegetable for each color of the rainbow. When you get home, cut up all your produce and make a ROYGBIV appetizer plate for your family to sample.

Ask Questions: Family farmers enjoy talking about their crops. Encourage your kids to chat with the farmers and learn more where food comes from.

Let Your Kids Shop: Give your children a small amount of money and let them make a purchase. They’ll love the independence (and they get to practice their math skills).

Make A Menu: When you get home, have your kids peruse cookbooks and websites for recipes using your new produce. Give them age-appropriate tasks to help prepare the food. They are much more likely to eat and enjoy their meal when they have been involved from shopping to menu planning to cooking.

Play I Spy: Here’s a chart of what produce is available at the market, month by month. You could print a copy to take with you to the market and have your children check off each item as you find it.

What to make with all of your farmers market veggies? Try Make-Your-Own Pasta Bowls. It’s the perfect blank canvas for so many vegetables, and great option for a meal you can make with your children.

Make Your Own Pasta Bowl
Serves 8

Because this recipe is totally customizable everyone gets to eat a dinner they enjoy! The adults get to enjoy a delicious Dijon vinaigrette while the kids sample the new vegetables with the buttery pasta they always enjoy. This meal makes a lot, so you have delicious leftovers for a second dinner or to pack for lunch. Happy cooking!

Cook the Orzo:

Make a double batch, following package instructions—1 cup each, so you can tailor one half for grownup flavors and the other half for a more kid-friendly meal. Whole wheat orzo will take longer. Once drained in a colander, separate the orzo into two large bowls.

Grown-up Dinner with Dijon Vinaigrette

2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. Honey
1/4 cup Red wine vinegar
1/2 cup Olive oil
1/2 of (5 ounce) bag of Arugula or Baby Spinach, stems removed
2 cups Raw or cooked vegetables, seasonal
1/2 cup Cheese of your choice—grated Parmesan, blue cheese, goat cheese, etc
2 Tbsp. Fresh herbs, optional (Oregano, dill, thyme or basil would all work with this recipe)

In a Mason jar, combine Dijon mustard, Kosher salt, honey, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Shake vigorously until the dressing is emulsified.
Pour cooked orzo into a large bowl and toss with the vinaigrette while the pasta is hot. It will seem like there is too much liquid, but it will all be absorbed by the hot pasta.
Add arugula (or spinach), vegetables, cheese and fresh herbs if using and toss until combined.
Add additional salt or pepper to taste.
Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 4 hours. Let it come to room temperature before serving, about 30 minutes.

Kid-Friendly Dinner

Toss 1 cup cooked pasta with:
6 tbsp Butter, unsalted, softened
2 cups Cooked vegetables, seasonal
1/2 of (5 ounce) bag of Arugula or Baby Spinach, stems removed
1/2 cup Cheese of your choice—grated Parmesan, blue cheese, goat cheese, etc
2 tbsp Fresh herbs, optional (Oregano, dill, thyme or basil would all work with this recipe)

Pour cooked orzo into a large bowl and toss with the butter while the pasta is hot.
Add vegetables, and if using arugula (or baby spinach), cheese and fresh herbs and toss until combined.
Add additional salt or pepper to taste.
Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 4 hours. Let it come to room temperature before serving, about 30 minutes.

If you want to really make an out-of-this world pasta bowl, and you have a little extra time, make these tomatoes. Cooked along with the red onions, they are incredible!

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Onions

1 Red onion
8 Campari tomatoes or 1 to 1 1/2 lbs. Cherry tomatoes
4 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 tsp. Kosher salt

Set oven to 250 degrees and cover a sheet pan with aluminum foil. On the sheet pan, drizzle the onion and tomatoes with olive oil and Kosher salt, stir to combine. Slowly cook the tomatoes and onions until somewhat shriveled, about 1 3/4 to 2 hours.
Save the juice from the tray to mix with the pasta salad.

 

 

 

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