Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Farmers Market Salad


The USDA recently designated this week (August 4th-10th) as National Farmers Market Week!  If any of you have never visited a Farmers Market, I sincerely encourage you to do so.  It is such a different experience with a much livelier and friendlier atmosphere than any other kind of market out there.  A lot of people bring their dogs with them, and there are free samples given out left and right!  (I'm sure it's possible to eat an entire meal at the Farmers Market exclusively made up of samples).



Another neat quality about Farmers Markets is that you can actually shake the hand of the person who grew or made the products you are buying and eating.  I think that is a very powerful thing; and it brings back that sense of connection (or part of it, anyway) that people used to have with their food, which has unfortunately declined very rapidly over recent decades.  Farmers Markets are such an important part of today’s food culture because (in the words of Thomas J. Vilsack, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture) they “play a key role in developing local and regional food systems that support the sustainability of family farms.”

Politics aside, however, Farmers Markets provide a great community gathering place and effectively showcase the mix of personalities unique to each region or neighborhood.  Working as a vendor at one of the weekly Farmers Markets in my area, I have met countless people who are amiable, opinionated, selfless, talkative, solitary, distracted, quirky, and everything in between.  Even on a slow day, it is impossible to be bored while working at the market, because there is nothing more entertaining than hearing a witty joke from a customer, or seeing a fellow (adult) vendor periodically whiz by on a scooter.

Even more exciting is the interaction with others (both vendors and customers alike) who share similar interests in food and its sources.  I have actually met more fellow paleo-dieters at the Farmers Market than anywhere else (which could be due to the fact that I sell grass-fed beef).  But anyway...

Whether it is the sharing of many hellos and stories, the sight of a little girl holding on to her father’s pinky finger as they stroll through the market, or the chatter about how sweet and luscious the cherries are this week, something truly inspiring happens at a Farmers Market; which is why it is one of my favorite places to be!  

So, in honor of National Farmers Market Week, here is a recipe for one of my favorite salads…

Farmers Market Salad  (makes 1 salad)

Ingredients:
• 1 cup arugula
• ¼ cup sliced yellow summer squash
• 6 grape tomatoes, halved
• ¼ red bell pepper, sliced
• 1 green onion, chopped
• 2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped
• 1 slice of bacon
• 3 oz. chicken breast
• 1 egg
• salt and pepper for seasoning
• white peach balsamic vinegar 

Directions:
  1. Chop and prep all veggies and herbs for the salad.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat, and add the bacon.  When the bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside (leaving the fat in the pan).
  3. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper, and add to the skillet with the bacon fat.  Saut√© for a few minutes on each side until cooked through.  
  4. Cook the egg over easy in the same pan, seasoning with salt and pepper.
  5. While the egg cooks, assemble the salad by chopping the bacon, slicing the chicken, and layering all ingredients on a plate, topping with the over easy egg and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and the remaining bacon fat, if desired (definitely recommended).

What is the most interesting, entertaining, or random thing you have seen at the Farmers Market?  Share your experience in the comment section below.