Farmer’s market tomato and radicchio salad

Food from the farmer’s market needs little more than simple preparation. But why does it taste so good? Read on for more information about locally grown foods, the inspiration behind this salad.

Farmer’s market stands are stocked with fresh, local ingredients, often harvested that very morning. The food itself has spent less time traveling than most conventionally grown food that you’ll find at the grocery store. Not only that, but food grown organically, seasonally, and locally equates to more flavor due to their higher quantity of nutrients, made available through their growing medium. Food grown outside of its seasonality window is likely able to do so using GMOs and pesticides, which in turn damages the soil, so that the final product lacks those valuable nutrients. This is why you can taste the difference in a tomato from the farmer’s market and a conventionally grown tomato from a grocery store. This simple salad is all about amplifying the natural flavors that occur in these foods!

When beauty strikes

For this recipe, I’ve used two types of tomatoes from the SF Ferry Building farmer’s market: Cherokee Purple and Carolina Gold. I came upon these two choices because 1) I’m from South Carolina, so I had to try the Carolina Gold, and 2) I asked the vendor which other tomato he would recommend, and without hesitation, he pointed to the Cherokee Purple. So that was that!

The radicchio and pistachios are also from the farmer’s market. The basil leaves are from my indoor hydroponic garden (which sounds cooler than it is).

This combination of food is infinitely riffable, and could certainly be served with burrata or mozzarella! I didn’t have any on hand, and it was still divine thanks to the quality of the ingredients. The dressing would also swap out nicely with nearly any vinaigrette… the main point being the acidity. And if swapping out the vinaigrette, keep in mind that you want it to have a synergistic effect with the lettuce, so you may want to swap out the lettuce to match the vinaigrette in this scenario. This is essentially a simple salad paired with tomatoes, basil, and roasted nuts.

Here’s how this salad came to be: I started with the star of the show, the tomatoes. From there, I added the basil, because basil and tomatoes are always a winning duo. Then I hand-tossed the radicchio with the lemon-caper dressing in a separate bowl before adding to the plate with the tomatoes and basil. I finished with a topping of pistachios to give a nice hit of fat to the salad.

Ingredients:

  • A few handfuls of chopped radicchio
  • 1-2 small tomatoes
  • A few basil leaves
  • Lemon caper dressing*
  • Roasted, salted pistachios (optional)

Directions:

  • Slice tomatoes and arrange on a plate however you’d like, sprinkle with kosher salt, to taste
  • In a bowl, place the few handfuls of radicchio and add a tbsp or so of the vinaigrette, tossing with hands (to ensure each leaf is coated)
  • Add radicchio and vinaigrette salad to plate
  • Top with sliced or torn basil leaves and the roasted, salted pistachios
  • Grind some peppercorns on top
  • Serve!

*If you aren’t a subscriber of NYT Cooking you may not be able to access the recipe. It’s essentially as follows: 1 clove garlic, ten grinds of fresh pepper, and 1 tsp of capers, and a little kosher salt. These four ingredients are pounded into a paste using a mortar and pestle. Transfer the paste to a bowl, and stir in ~3 tbsp of lemon juice, and ~5 tbsp of freshly grated parmesan. Then slowly add in about 1/4 cup of olive oil. From there, try with a lettuce leaf, and adjust as needed by adding more lemon, olive oil, capers, cheese, and/or salt. Tinker and try a bit on the leaves after each adjustment until you think, damn! that is a good dressing!

Roasted Sourdough with Smoked Salmon and Vegetables

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This isn’t a “recipe” so much as it is a way to combine ingredients on top of bread so that it’s a full-on meal with minimal effort.

I had all of this stuff on hand, some ingredients thanks to meal prep (quick pickled bell peppers), and some ingredients courtesy of my local farmer’s market (smoked salmon goat cheese, heirloom tomatoes, & roasted garlic sourdough bread).

I am not going to write a traditional recipe for most of this, because it doesn’t really need one. I started out by roasting the roasted garlic sourdough bread drizzled with olive oil in the oven on 400 for about 6 minutes. Note: Fresh bread can be sliced and then stored in the freezer. I store each slice in individual plastic bags and date and label them. Then I take them out and pop them in the oven with some olive oil whenever I’m ready to eat them.

Now you have roasted bread (any kind of bread’ll do). Next up, I have spread a harissa, cumin, and and chili goat milk cheese on the bread. Honestly, I almost just stopped here. Good cheese on good bread with good olive is all you really need. Alas, I then added a couple of slices of an heirloom tomato (I saved the rest of the tomato and threw it in a beef bolognese I made later that day). Then I added some greens — I used sweet mixed greens, but you can use anything. I have made this before with romaine and the additional crunch is very nice. Arugula would work great too. Use whatever you have on hand. Then I topped this with smoked salmon. I am lucky to have a wonderful vendor at my farmer’s market, and I definitely splurge on smoked salmon. I would recommend you do the same — sub-par smoked salmon isn’t very tasty and it could ruin your dish! (Okay, so just make sure that you like it first.)

The only part of this recipe that I made prior to assembling were the quick pickled sweet bell peppers. I recommend making this at the beginning of the week, and storing in its brine all week in the refrigerator. I top a lot of food with these guys, they add a nice sweet crunch that many dishes deserve in order to feel complete. I will post the recipe in just a moment.

On top of everything, add chopped dill (parsley or cilantro would be lovely additions as well), and add kosher sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Now you are ready for a delicious lunch, breakfast, dinner, or snack!

Quick Pickled Sweet Bell Peppers

Depending on how many bell peppers you have, you may need to adjust the amount of brine you are making. I typically use two rather large bell peppers, and I make sure that the bell peppers are completely covered by the liquid in the container I store it in.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large bell peppers (I like to use two different colors like yellow and red)
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher sea salt

Directions:

  1. Deseed and remove the stems from the peppers.
  2. Slice lengthwise into about 1/4 of an inch.
  3. Add peppers to a glass container with a tight lid.
  4. Add vinegar, sugar, and salt to a saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring with a wooden spoon.
  5. Let cool completely.
  6. Add mixture to the glass container once cooled and toss to combine.
  7. Make sure peppers are completely covered and this should store in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

 

Baguette Crisps

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This is a very simple recipe, but an important one if you buy fresh baguettes (or other fresh breads) — it helps preserve the deliciousness inherent within, that sometimes just gets tossed instead of made into its own wonderfulness.

Many other cultures relish their stale bread. They can be made into soups, croutons, bread crumbs, and the list goes on-and-on — or they can be made into crisps. These crisps taste a lot like a substitute for chips or bagel crisps that you buy in the store, except these are essentially FREE since you are just using leftovers that you already have. You can top them with anything you like! I topped mine with a little bit of butter and an olive-capers-anchovy tapenade with a little boiled chard on top, so you can do you and get a little crazy with these. Or you can just eat them as-is.

Ingredients:

  • Leftover stale baguette, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • Good olive oil

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 °.
  • Cut baguette into 1/4 inch slices if you have not already — the thinner, the better
  • Lay pieces on a baking sheet and leave space between each one. If you are overcrowding the baking sheet, use two.
  • Cook in oven for 6 minutes, then flip. Cook for 4-6 more minutes, until crisps are golden brown.
  • Enjoy by themselves, topped with your favorite ingredients, with butter, as a side for soups, etc.

 

 

Tofu Sloppy Joes

I grew up loving Sloppy Joes — the classic version featuring beef. This is a healthier twist on the classic recipe. I’m surprised by how healthy, yet ALSO delicious it is. My fiancé loved these so much that he requested to take the leftovers with him for lunch the next day (and I let him, don’t worry, guys). This recipe serves four, so adjust as necessary! This is another recipe modified from Carole Raymond’s, Student’s Go Vegan Cookbook. Love you, Carole.

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Ingredients

  • 14-16 oz. firm tofu
  • 1 chopped red onion (yellow works, too)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 – 2 chopped bell pepper(s) (I used orange, but green or red would work)
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can tomato paste (6 oz.)
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. 100% pure maple syrup (or other natural sweetener)
  • 2 tsp. red pepper flakes + more for added spicy
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp. fresh parsley
  • 4 whole wheat buns

Directions

First, press the tofu — to do this, I wrap the tofu block in lots of paper towels and then sandwich it between two plates and set a heavy object on the top plate (an ole textbook will work). Let sit while you prep the rest of the veggies.

Chop the red onion, mince the garlic cloves, chop the bell pepper, dice the tomato, and chop the parsley. Set aside until you need them.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat, then add the olive oil and let heat through. Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes to give it a head start on the bell pepper. Then add the bell pepper and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add the minced garlic towards the end of this time so as not to burn.

Crumble the tofu into the skillet, along with the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, cumin, oregano, chili powder, maple syrup, red pepper flakes, salt, about half of the parsley, and black pepper (to taste)

Now the sloppy joe filling is complete. Add to whole wheat buns and sprinkle parsley on top, then sandwich that baby shut. Enjoy!

Cod en Papillote over Mixed Greens

I like this recipe because I love cod. And I love roasted tomatoes. And I love herbs and lemons and balsamic vinaigrettes.

This recipe lends itself to using up whatever items you already have on hand. Instead of cilantro, parsley, and chives, you can use whatever fresh herbs you may have on hand. I think the more the better for this recipe. Instead of Greek yogurt and lemon juice, you can use crème fraiche. I also added some roasted tomatoes (recipe included) because I had a bunch of heirloom cherry tomatoes on hand and I threw it all over mixed baby greens with some barrel-aged feta.

So, here we go. The ingredients are for one foil pack and you can do as many as you like!

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Ingredients:

Cod en Papillote:

  • Cod, boneless and skinless (or other fish)*
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp. Dry white wine (or apple cider vinegar)
  • Mirin (optional)
  • 2 tsp. – 1 tbsp. of each herb: cilantro, parsley, and chives
  • 1 tbsp. Greek yogurt & a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon wedges
  • Salt & pepper

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Balsamic Vinegar Dressing:

  • 2 parts olive oil
  • 1 part balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. honey
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Other

  • Mixed greens
  • Feta
  • Aluminum foil
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheet

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°.

Lay out foil and place 1 tsp. of butter on the bottom. Add salt and pepper to both sides of cod, then lay on top of the butter. I like to fold up the sides of foil around the cod at this point, so the rest of the ingredients stay in one spot.

Next, add the white wine and mirin. Then top with the lemon zest and herbs. The more herbs the better here. I didn’t write measurements, but I probably used 2 tsp. – 1 tbsp. of each herb listed (cilantro, parsley, chives), with a little leftover for a topping. Here you’ll want to mix the Greek yogurt and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Then add a dollop on top of the other ingredients and gently place lemon slices on top of everything. Add a pinch of salt and pepper on top, and wrap the cod into its foil package.

Bake the cod for 15 minutes.

While the cod is baking, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add cherry tomatoes, and drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes. Sprinkle salt and pepper, and then mix everything together. Make sure that the tomatoes are spaced out so that they roast. Roast in the oven for about 8 minutes, checking on them around 5 minutes. You’ll want them to look pruned. Once done, take out of the oven and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, honey, and salt and pepper.

Once done, arrange mixed greens on a plate. Top with cod en papillote and roasted tomatoes. Drizzle balsamic vinegar dressing over everything. Add salt, pepper, leftover herbs, and crumbled feta to taste, and you’re done!

 

*If frozen: For a quick thaw, add the sealed bag of fish in a bowl of cold water and let it thaw for about 30 minutes. You should be able to tell once it’s thawed. If it floats to the top, make sure you flip it over halfway through.

Tempeh Tacos with Healthy Sour Cream

In college I attended a school in a small college town called Clemson. I was vegetarian or vegan for almost the entirety of my college career, and in small college towns, there were very few offerings in the way of vegan or vegetarian food.

So, I had to learn to cook for myself! I obtained a cookbook, called “The Student’s Go Vegan Cookbook” by Carole Raymond, and it saved my life and also taught me how to cook… on a budget. It’s only appropriate that the first recipe on this blog is a modified recipe from the cookbook (and it’s not vegan, unless you don’t add the healthy sour cream).

This was one of my favorite recipes, because it took so little time to prepare and required very little effort on my end. Now that I have more experience under my belt, I have learned to modify and make it fit my taste a bit better, but it’s still close to the original.

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Tempeh Tacos with Healthy Sour Cream

Ingredients

Tempeh

  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. salsa
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 4 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • Frank’s Red Hot, or other hot sauce of your choice, to taste
  • 8 oz. tempeh, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Healthy “Sour Cream”

  • 1 cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. lemon or lime juice

Condiments/Other

  • Fresh cilantro
  • Lettuce of your choice
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocado or Guacamole
  • Tortillas

Directions

Mix the tempeh ingredients together in a shallow bowl using 3 tbsp. of the olive oil, and coat tempeh evenly. Let tempeh marinade for about an hour, stirring every so often.

Heat skillet on medium-high. Once heated, coat the skillet with the remaining 1 tbsp. of olive oil.* Once olive oil is hot, add the marinated tempeh and let it cook for about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 3 minutes. Set aside.

Combine the Greek yogurt with the lemon or lime juice. Stir to combine. Set aside. You now have your healthy sour cream!

Warm tortillas and then add the cooked tempeh, sour cream, and whatever other condiments you desire.

* By first allowing the skillet to heat, and then adding the olive oil and allowing the olive oil to heat, we are preventing sticking to the pan.