Farmers Market challenge • 05.24.09
I had a small dinner crisis last weekend. Despite having been to the farmers market in town on Saturday, I didn’t really have anything to cook on Sunday night. This always happens to me with farmers markets. I get all eager and excited and I buy whatever looks good. Then I get home and I realise that I have no complete meals, just random bits of deliciousness.
I suppose there is nothing wrong with that. I know that the French shop like that every day… they wander around their local markets to find out what’s fresh and in season, and they build their meals around those ingredients. I aspire to be like that some day. But my personal problem is that I forget to build a meal around the stunning ingredients that I find. I just buy them on their own, with no friends or mates to serve them with.
So, I waltzed home from the farmers market last weekend with the following in my bag:
3 bunches of British asparagus
2 venison shanks
1 packet of free range smoked bacon
1 piece of local goat’s blue cheese
1 jar of homemade onion marmalade
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
1 jar of asparagus pickles
1 loaf of bread
On Saturday night we had a sort of mezze dinner of cheese with the onion marmalade, char-grilled asparagus, fresh sliced tomatoes and chunks of fresh bread. It wasn’t what you’d call a well-planned meal either I guess, but it tasted great. Then on Sunday afternoon I was squatting down to look into the world’s smallest fridge, trying to figure out what we could eat for dinner that didn’t require me to trek back into town.
Now, let’s play a game. Assume that you want to save the venison shanks for another night, and your fridge also contains a small head of lettuce, mustard and garlic… go back to that list above and see what you would serve…. I’ll wait here…..
Welcome back… what did you come up with?? I’d love to hear your ideas, because the foods on that list are amongst some of my favourites in the world and I’m always looking for new ways to combine them.
Here’s what I came up with… BLT salad. The bread was slightly old by this point, so I cut it up and made croutons. I fried up the bacon, made a super tangy dressing of mustard, white wine vinegar, olive oil and garlic and tossed the rest together. It was a satisfying dinner and truly tasted like a BLT. I must admit, I was rather pleased with my fridge-raiding efforts. So perhaps my farmers market strategy of buying whatever looked good did pay off!
Day old bread
Chilli flakes (optional)
This recipe is too easy… I feel silly even giving it to you. But these are so good and are much lighter and less greasy than store bought croutons. I’m not giving specific measurements because this all depends on how much bread you have to use up.
Preheat your oven to about 350F or gas mark 6. Cut the bread into bite sized chunks and place in a baking tin or on a baking sheet. Pour a little olive oil over the bread and toss to coat. The bread does not need to be soaking with olive oil, just a light coat. Add sea salt, pepper and chilli flakes if you’re using them and toss again.
Put your pan in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until the croutons are golden and crunchy.
You can also make these with various flavours, such as sprinkled with cumin for a roasted pepper soup, or tossed with basil and parsley for an Italian flavour. The combinations are endless!