Nibble, browse at Lewes market

June 24, 2013

In case you haven’t visited recently, you may not know about the wide range of foods available at the Historic Lewes Farmers Market. Of course you’ll find plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, but you can also take home meat, fish, poultry and prepackaged items including sweet treats, soups and salads. If you’ve come to town for the weekend and find yourself tired of dining at restaurants, here’s a delicious way to eat at home with little effort.

There are dozens of breakfast items from sticky buns to bagels to nibble as you browse. For those out there (you know who you are) who consider an ice cream cone the ideal balanced morning meal, choose your scoops from a variety of cool flavors. Others can opt for a cheese-filled pastry, fruit yogurt or high-fiber oatmeal cookie to start the day. Don’t forget a cup of free-trade coffee or chocolate milk to quench your thirst.

SNAP at the Lewes Farmers Market
The Historic Lewes Farmers Market offers an opportunity for individuals who rely on food subsidies to participate in a unique program. Anyone who has qualified for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) can register at the market and use their benefits to purchase tokens accepted in payment by the market vendors. And, to make this even more attractive, the HLFM adds a $10 credit to the first $10 spent each week.

This way, a $10 investment gives participants $20 to spend on a tempting array of farm-fresh food.

Lunch couldn’t be easier with the choices of chicken and tuna salads, some made with dairy-free vegenaise instead of Hellman’s. Add side dishes of creamy potato salad or snappy cole slaw, fresh-baked rolls or a loaf of bread. For dessert you can choose from scones, tarts and macaroons. The most difficult part (and the place I usually fail) is keeping the food in its container until we get home, instead of grabbing a fork to eat as I search for more items to tuck into my basket.

Dinner can be assembled from a combination of raw ingredients or with assistance from prepared items. If you like lamb, you’re in luck, since there’s everything from Frenched racks to loin chops to spicy lamb sausage. Chicken from free-range birds, and beef and pork from forage-raised stock offer choices for several dinner main courses. Crabmeat or prepared crab cakes, as well as local fish in season give the pescavore (also spelled piscivore) fresh-from-the-sea alternatives.

While the main course cooks, serve an appetizer array of gourmet cheeses with artisanal bread (see photo) as you sip a preprandial cocktail and admire the bouquet of market-fresh flowers on the table. Begin your meal with gluten-free tomato basil soup or build a baby spinach salad garnished with just-harvested mushrooms and dressed with organic herbal vinegar. Buttered fingerling potatoes and steamed asparagus can round out a market-sourced meal with minimal kitchen time. And if anyone has saved room for dessert, slice up the watermelon or cut into the blueberry pie.

For those of you who prefer to make your own meals, I’ve included my favorite recipes for some of the packaged items available at the market. This version of quinoa salad uses the same ingredients as the familiar tabouli salad, with one change: steamed quinoa replaces the soaked bulgur wheat. Like the one sold at the market, my tomato basil soup can be enjoyed hot or cold. The differences are that I didn’t add brown rice for extra body or brown sugar to cut the acid; we enjoy the assertive tomatoes taking center stage and have also treated this as a thick sauce for pizza and pasta.

Finally, for an easy dessert - macerated berries to spoon over the cheesecake you brought home from the market (we’re saving the ice cream for breakfast).

Quinoa Tabouli Salad

1 C quinoa
2 C water
3 T olive oil
1/3 C lemon juice
2 diced tomatoes
3 sliced scallions
1 peeled, seeded, diced cucumber
2/3 C chopped parsley
1 T chopped fresh mint
1/3 C toasted pine nuts
salt & pepper, to taste

Combine the water and quinoa in a saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the water has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Toss thoroughly with remaining ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Yield: 6 servings.

Tomato Basil Soup

1 T olive oil
1/2 C finely chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1 lb chopped tomatoes
1 C vegetable broth
3 T chopped fresh basil
2 t chopped fresh oregano
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy saucepan. Add onion and garlic; cook over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and broth; simmer for 15 minutes. Add herbs and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Puree the mixture with an immersion blender. Adjust seasonings and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

Macerated Berries

1/2 lb berries
1/4 t lemon zest
1 t sugar
2 T Cointreau

Rinse and drain berries. If using strawberries, hull and slice. Place berries in a serving dish and toss with remaining ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for about 15 minutes for juices to form. Serve over ice cream or pound cake. Yield: 2 cups berries.

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