Eggplant Parmesan

This time of year, while we wait for the abundance of field crops to start lining the shelves of our vendors’ stalls, greenhouse tomatoes and cucumbers really take the ‘local’ spotlight. For this recipe, a lesser known, but equally exciting locally grown vegetable – the eggplant – is finally getting a turn to be the star of the show! (These beauties can be picked up at Gull Valley Greenhouses.)

Many people view the eggplant as some sort of exotic ingredient, but it’s actually quite easy to prepare and cook in a number of ways! Eggplant parmesan is a wonderful way to start cooking with eggplant, and a great way to sneak in another vegetarian option to your menu at home.

Market Sourced Ingredients:

2 medium eggplants, sliced ½ inch thick from Gull Valley Greenhouses

1 ½ cups panko crumbs from Blu Seafood

½ cup milk from Blush Lane

2 eggs from Blush Lane

3 cups tomato sauce from Gull Valley Greenhouses

2 cups mozzarella, shredded from Sylvan Star Cheese

1 cup parmesan, grated from Sylvan Star Cheese

Fresh basil, chopped for garnish from Gull Valley Greenhouses

eggplant ingredientsOther Ingredients:

2 tbsp kosher salt

Vegetable oil for frying

Method:

Before you do anything else, you need to slice your eggplants up; salt both sides of the slices and let them sit in a colander in the sink for at least 30 minutes. This will draw out extra moisture and bitterness.

eggplants

When you’re ready to get cooking, pat the slices dry on a piece of paper towel to remove excess salt.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs into a shallow dish; whisk the milk and eggs together in another dish.

Taking the slices one at a time, dip the eggplant into the milk and egg mixture, coating both sides, and then dip it into the breadcrumbs. Shake off any excess. Set aside on a tray and repeat for all the slices.

process collage

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a pan over medium high heat and add a generous dollop of oil. When it’s nice and hot, add one layer of eggplant slices to the pan, flipping part way to cook both sides. Remove the slices when they are golden brown and place on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat this step until all the eggplant has been cooked.

Now it’s time to put everything together in a good sized casserole dish. Coat the bottom of the casserole dish with about 1 cup of tomato sauce. Add a layer of eggplant slices. Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella and parmesan on top. Repeat the layers until you run out of ingredients (about 3 layers). Make sure the top layer of cheese is generous!

Cook for about 25 minutes in the oven. When it’s almost done, you may want to (carefully) switch to the broiler to brown the cheese. When the cheese is brown and bubbling to your approval, remove from the oven. Sprinkle the basil over top, and dig in!

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While frying the eggplant before adding it to the dish can take a bit of time – it is totally worth it! This dish is delicious right out of the oven and a great one to keep in the fridge for easy leftover meals. The moral of the story is -next time you’re at the Calgary Farmers’ Market, don’t be afraid to try something new!

Spring Asparagus & Mushroom Risotto

Spring is in the air… and on the shelves at the Calgary Farmers’ Market! May is the month for greens, fiddleheads, peppers, rhubarb, zucchini, greenhouse crops… and of course – asparagus!

We thought we would highlight this spring favourite in a simple risotto dish. You can always leave the mushrooms out if they’re not your favourite, or substitute another seasonal veggie in their place.

Risotto1Market Sourced Ingredients:

3 tbsp good olive oil from Soffritto

1 cup arborio rice from La Cucina

4 small shallots, diced from Cherry Pit

1 clove garlic, minced from Cherry Pit

10 oz mushrooms, sliced (whatever kind you like!) from Blush Lane

1/2 lb asparagus spears, cut into 2 inch pieces from Innisfail Growers

Freshly grated parmesan from Fresh DELIcious

1 tsp lemon zest from Blush Lane

Other Ingredients:

1 ½ tbsp butter

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

½ cup white wine

handful chopped chives

Salt & pepper to taste

Method:

This recipe requires a little bit of separate prep for the main ingredients, but then it all comes together in one pot for the grand finale!

Risotto2First, you’ll need to heat the stock up in a small pot. Once hot, turn the heat off and set the stock aside until needed. I used a nice homemade chicken stock from my freezer, but you can always pick up delicious stock from the Stock and Sauce Co. at the market!

While the stock is warming, heat a pan with half the olive oil and sauté the mushrooms. Get the mushrooms nice and brown and delicious, and then remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the remainder of the olive oil in a large pot, add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the rice and allow to toast slightly. Now you can add your minced garlic and cook for 1 minutes. At this point, add the wine and give everything a good stir until the liquid is almost entirely evaporated.

The key to a good risotto is to add liquid gradually, and keep cooking it down before you add more. So start with about 1 cup of hot stock, add it to the mixture, reduce the heat and stir. Continue to stir every couple of minutes while it reduces. Add more stock as needed, about a cup at a time. The rice will absorb all the delicious stock as you go and develop that signature creamy texture that risotto is known for.

While you’re waiting and stirring, chop the asparagus into bite sized pieces, grate the parmesan, and zest the lemon. Set everything aside until needed.

Risotto4When you’ve added all the stock, and there is still some liquid in the pot, add the asparagus pieces so they have time to cook. Once the asparagus and the rice are cooked to your liking (add a bit of water if you run out of stock), add the cooked mushrooms, chives, lemon zest, butter and parmesan and fold in to the mixture. All that’s left to do now is to season the risotto with salt and pepper as required.

This asparagus mushroom risotto could be served as a side dish, but it’s perfect on its own as well. The asparagus season is short, so get your fill while you still can at the Calgary Farmers’ Market!

Hearty Veggie Chili

Chili collageThis recipe was most definitely inspired by Dinner with Julie’s Really Good Veggie Chili. One look at that recipe, and I knew what I was having for dinner. Given the recent cold snap reminding us Calgarians that it is in fact still winter here, I thought it would be a great time to share this delicious meal with you! This recipe is also a good reminder that you don’t necessarily need to include meat to create something hearty and filling for your family.

Market Sourced Ingredients

Other Ingredients

  • oil, for cooking
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 2 cans of beans, your choice – chickpeas, black, kidney etc. (*I ended up using dried beans from my garden, topped up with some chickpeas and black beans that I had on hand)
  • 2 cans diced or whole tomatoes (*I used one liter of my own canned whole yellow tomatoes – get the recipe here)

If using dried beans, make sure to soak them and cook them before making this recipe. (If using canned beans, this step will go a lot faster – simply drain and rinse before adding to the pot).

Chili collage 2

First, preheat the oven to 425 F. Peel and chop the sweet potato, toss in cooking oil, salt and pepper, then spread the pieces out on a baking sheet and put in the oven for about 30 minutes. Once they are golden and delicious looking, they are ready. Remove from oven and set aside.

Chop the onions, peppers and mince the garlic. On the stove top, heat a fair sized pot and sauté the onion, peppers, and garlic for a few minutes until soft. Chop up the cilantro stems, and half the leaves and add them to the mixture. Add in the spices (cumin, chili powder, cinnamon). Cook a few minutes longer.

Chili collage 3

Next, chop up the tomatoes if needed, and add them along with the beans into the pot, throw in the roasted sweet potatoes, and bring the whole thing to a simmer for about 45 minutes. And that’s it!

To serve, sprinkle some crumbled feta on top with some fresh cilantro leaves. This recipe can serve a crowd, or in my case, it can feed 2 people for a few days. It was definitely a time saver during a busy (and cold!) week.

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You can find the ingredients for this recipe and more on your next trip to the Calgary Farmers’ Market!

Fresh and Natural Home-Made Sports Drink

This is a guest post by our partners at Poppy Innovations

home made energy drinkHydration is an essential part of exercising. And when you really exert yourself, a sports drink is in order right?  Right!

Replacing electrolytes is important and that’s what a sports drink provides. But would it surprise you to learn that many sports drinks contain half the amount of sugar you should have per day?  Read the label and it’s likely to include high fructose corn syrup, brominated vegetable oil and artificial colours. With obesity on the rise, especially in children, it’s important to make healthier beverage choices.

That doesn’t mean you should only drink plain water for the rest of your life. In fact, you can make your own natural sports drink at home using healthy – and easy to pronounce – ingredients! Here is a simple and delicious recipe for a home-made sports drink that will provide all the positive benefits of a store bought one, without the unhealthy ingredients.

Natural Sports Drink Ingredients

2 cups coconut water from Blush Lane Organic Market

1/4 cup fresh orange or other citrus juice from Blush Lane Organic Market

pinch of salt

1 tbsp honey from Beeland

Add all ingredients to your water bottle, shake, and let chill in the refrigerator. Shake before drinking.

Experiment with other flavourings of juice and herbs.

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Article submitted by Poppy Innovations – offering cooking classes for all ages at the Calgary farmers Market!

Delicious Radish Relish

It finally feels like summer in Calgary, and the abundance of fresh local produce pouring in at the market is proof!

Radishes are one of the first local veggies to spring up at the market in the early summer. Their refreshing, spicy flavour is a welcome addition to any salad! If you want to try something new with radishes or simply take advantage of the bounty at the market right now, this recipe is for you!

Radish Collage

Market Sourced Ingredients

4-5 bunches radishes (about 2 pounds), finely chopped – from Okanagan Farms or Twin Creek Colony (I actually used up a surplus from my own garden for this batch)

1 large onion, finely chopped – from Blush Lane Organic Market

2 cloves peeled garlic, finely chopped – from Lund’s Organics

2 cups vinegar

1.5  cups sugar

1 tbsp salt (use pickling salt if you intend on processing)

1 tbsp whole coriander – from Silk Road Spice Merchant

1 tbsp cumin seed – from Silk Road Spice Merchant

1 tbsp mustard seed – from Silk Road Spice Merchant

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

2 inch length of fresh ginger, peeled and grated – from Blush Lane Organic Market

radish relish ingredients

Finely chop your radishes, onion and garlic (you can also use a food processor for this step to speed it up – though chopping 2 pounds of radishes can be quite therapeutic!). Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, coriander, cumin, mustard seed, black pepper and ginger in a large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the chopped radish, onions and garlic and bring back to a boil. Cook for 10 more minutes. Let the relish cool and place in a container or jar in the fridge. If you’re a home canner, you also have the option now to put up the relish in jars and process it in a hot water bath canner.

Use this delicious radish relish on hot dogs, hamburgers and anywhere else you please! For all your summer recipe needs, come to the Calgary Farmers’ Market to get the freshest produce around.

Radish in jars
Radish relish is all jarred up and ready to go into the canner!

Marbled No-Can Pumpkin Gingersnap Tart

Pumpkin Tart 7

Thanksgiving may be our favorite holiday here at the market; it’s the ultimate food holiday and it brings people together over steamy stuffing, a beautiful bird, and the perfect pumpkin pie.  We have some pretty incredible products on offer in the days leading up to the holiday weekend, from free-run and organic turkey’s to mini pumpkin mousse desserts and a Pie Bake Off in support of the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank just to name a few.  And because we’re always trying to offer our incredible guests something new and delicious, we have an incredible recipe to share with you.  Inspired by Smitten Kitchen, we have a easier-than-pie-dough no-can pumpkin tart that is better than the average, run-of-the-mill pumpkin pie, but tasty enough that even pumpkin pie purists will love it.  With freshly roasted pumpkin purée, rather than the canned pumpkin, this tart is fresh, vibrant, and yummy to boot.

Pumpkin Tart 1

Market-Sourced Ingredients

Crust

2 large molasses ginger cookies from Yum Bakery

16 graham crackers

1/4 cup salted butter, melted

Cheesecake Batter

125g of cream cheese, well softened from Blush Lane Organics

3 Tablespoons (40 grams) granulated sugar

1 large egg yolk

Pumpkin Batter

1 good-sized pie pumpkin from Souto Farms

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1 1/4 cups pumpkin purée

1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar

1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon table salt

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon from Silk Road Spice Merchant

few fresh gratings of nutmeg from Silk Road Spice Merchant

250g crème fraîche from Blush Lane Organics

DIRECTIONS:

Pumpkin Tart Collage

Roast Pumpkin
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and guts. Cut pumpkin into large slivers, rub with olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Roast for approximately 30-45 minutes, or until the pumpkin flesh is soft to the touch.  Let cool completely and blitz the flesh in a processor to make the pumpkin purée.

Make crust
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Finely grind the molasses ginger cookies and graham crackers in a food processor (you’ll likely need to do the graham and ginger cookies separately). Add the melted butter, and process until the cookie- crumb mixture is moistened. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9- inch- diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Place pan on rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Make Cheesecake Batter
Mix together the ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.

Make Pumpkin Batter
Beat the egg and the egg white lightly in a mixer with sugars, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Gradually whisk in the pumpkin and then the crème fraîche.

Pumpkin Tart 6

Assemble Tart
Pour the pumpkin batter into gingersnap-graham crust. Carefully dollop the cheesecake batter over pumpkin batter, then marble the two together decoratively with a knife. Try not to pierce the bottom crust as you do. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 40 minutes, or until the puffed up centre doesn’t jiggle freely.

Pumpkin Tart 8

To Serve
Cool the tart completely on a rack. Serve when cool or refrigerate until Thanksgiving dinner when it can be served to prying eyes and full tummies; they’ll make room for this tart, it’s just that good.  Theoretically, the leftovers will keep for several days, but the crumb crust will soften on the bottom as times goes by.

Cobb Salad with Roasted Sweet Onion Dressing

photo 3

Have you ever met someone who just doesn’t like a cobb salad?  Sure, there are vegetarians or vegans and ingredient-restricted individuals who steer clear of this delicious, often-reinterpreted salad, but there’s something for everyone in the well-rounded salad that eats like a meal.  This version, with a southern sweet onion twist, is sure to please even the pickiest of palates.  While it has many individual elements, it all comes together quickly and taking the time to make your own dressing is entirely worth it.  So let’s get started.

Ingredients

Market-Sourced Ingredients

Dressing:

6 unpeeled garlic cloves from Souto Farms

1-2 large sweet onions, peeled and quartered through the core from Souto Farms

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing from La Cucina

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

juice and zest of 1 lemon from Cherry Pit

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

Salad:

1 clamshell of fresh Alberta romaine lettuce from Cherry Pit

1 clamshell of fresh spicy microgreens from Cherry Pit

1 avocado from Cherry Pit

1 bag of sweet tomatoes (your preference) from Gull Valley Greenhouses

2 cups shredded cooked Bowden Farms chicken from Spragg’s Meat Shop

1 package of bacon from Spragg’s Meat Shop

4 ounces crumbly Gorgonzola cheese, (1/2 cup) from Fresh DELIcious

1/2 cup toasted pecans, choppped from Going Nuts

2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced lengthwise from Sylvan Star Cheese (or Blush Lane Organics)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

Cobb Salad Collage

MAKE THE DRESSING: As we are likely enjoying the last week of warm sun and beautiful blue skies, we opted to grill the chicken and onions.  We even wrapped the garlic in foil and threw it on the grill too.  If you choose to do this step of the process in the oven, roast at 425°. Wrap the bulb of garlic (or individual cloves) in foil and set on a baking sheet. Brush the onions with oil and arrange on the baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour, until the onions and garlic are lightly charred and soft. Let cool.

Peel the garlic and transfer the cloves to a processor. Add the onions, cider vinegar and lemon juice and puree until smooth. With the blender on, gradually add the 1/2 cup of olive oil until incorporated. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.  At this point, we’d like to be perfectly transparent and admit that while our recipe calls for absolute measurements, we prefer to free-pour the vinegar and oil and trust our instincts.  Food is all about what tastes good right?  So if you want to add a little more vinegar, knock yourself out!  This dressing should have a good kick to it as it will cut through the rich chicken, bacon, and avocado and balance the salad.  Remember: Taste. Taste. Taste.  Taste as you go.

Set Up

MAKE THE SALAD: In an effort to not overdress the salad (who wants wilty, wet salad?), we placed the romaine and micorgreens in the bowl and arranged the remaining ingredients on top.  Just before serving, add your fresh-made sweet onion dressing and allow your guests to toss it all together to really see the magic happen.

This salad is a full meal that is sure to leave your family satisfied, hitting every mark: crisp lettuce leaves, succulent chicken, salty bacon, creamy avocado, bright tomatoes, nut-crunch…. and that’s just a few!  If you don’t like blue cheese, a milder cheese will absolutely work in this salad.  Choose what you like…. because let’s face it, food is meant to be enjoyed so use what you love and leave with a full and happy tummy.

*The onion dressing can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.