This post is the eighth in a series on meals prepared from ingredients purchased from the farmers market (previous post: Farmers Market Meal #7 – Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce.) I’m fairly new to the farmers market scene. I’ve always had good intentions about purchasing local foods but never followed through because I felt lost walking through the stands wondering what to buy. I decided to combat this by coming up with a plan. Before going to the market, I research recipe ideas using seasonal ingredients with the objective of creating one easy meal with as many local ingredients as possible. This way, when I get to the market, I have focus. It definitely helps that my favorite market provides a sign up for weekly email updates about participating vendors and seasonal items.
For my birthday, my sister gave me a really interesting cookbook called The Kitchen Ecosystem by Eugenia Bone. The author has created a cooking/meal planning system that involves three steps: 1) make dishes with as many seasonal ingredients as possible and preserve the left overs for use later; 2) replace commercial products in the pantry with homemade ones; and 3) prepare base recipes (like soup stock) from the parts you usually throw away. Each chapter is centered on a particular ingredient (like apples, chicken, rhubarb, etc.) and begins with a flow chart showing the dishes that can be made fresh, from preserves, and from scraps using that ingredient. The book also contains many tips on preserving and cooking techniques.
Corn has recently appeared at my favorite market, so I decided to make corn and bean soup (despite it being 80+ degrees outside) inspired from a recipe from this book. As a bonus, the soup also contains tomatoes, another seasonal ingredient. Of course, I decided to take a short cut by buying broth and canned beans from the supermarket. That’s not exactly in the spirit of this book, but hopefully the author will give me a pass because, as she states, it took her 25 years to hone her system.
For this dish, I sauteed onion in a soup pot then added diced tomatoes and allowed them to melt down. I then added the broth, beans, and corn (kernels cut from the cob plus one cob thrown in for flavor) and let that simmer for a while. When I served the soup, I garnished it with pesto (also from the market) and homemade breadcrumbs. The soup turned out great (the after picture is from my second helping).
I definitely recommend checking out The Kitchen Ecosystem. This is a very well thought out book, which I think would be appreciated by anyone interested in less waste and sustainability.