A great season for the farmers’ markets

A great season for the farmers’ markets\

Since the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service began tracking farmers’ markets in 1994, the number of markets in the United States has grown from 1,755 to 8,144 in 2013, with total annual sales estimated at $1 billion.

Since the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service began tracking farmers’ markets in 1994, the number of markets in the United States has grown from 1,755 to 8,144 in 2013, with total annual sales estimated at $1 billion.

by Joanne Henning Tedesco — 

The local farmers’ markets are back in full swing, marketing fresh locally grown organic fruits and vegetables directly to consumers. Just ask and the farmers will explain how the food is grown and educate you about how to prepare it.

This marketing method has grown in popularity because consumers are craving healthier, organic food. Since the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service began tracking farmers’ markets in 1994, the number of markets in the United States has grown from 1,755 to 8,144 in 2013, with total annual sales estimated at $1 billion. Most farmers’ markets are operated on a seasonal basis, depending on their location.

These local markets allow consumers the opportunity to put a “face” on who is growing the products, which they do not necessarily get from traditional retail food outlets. This form of direct marketing is also regarded as agritourism. Another benefit is that consumers have the chance to purchase locally grown products that were picked just hours before being sold at the market.

I hope to see you there.

 

Sweet Potato Apple Bake

Ingredients:

  • 1 large (1/4 pound) sweet potato
  • 3 medium Golden Delicious apples
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 large leek
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Preparation:

Heat oven to 350 F. Peel and thinly slice sweet potato. Peel, core and cut apples into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place apples in bowl and add water to cover; add lemon juice. Trim top of leek 1 inch above white; discard top and root end. Cut leek lengthwise in half and clean well under cold running water. Thinly slice leek crosswise. Drain apples well; pat dry. Grease 1-1/2 quart casserole dish with 1 tablespoon butter. Place one-third of apples in bottom of dish; top with one-third of leek slices and one-third of sweet potato. Season all with salt and pepper. Repeat to make two more layers. Dot top of casserole with 2 tablespoons butter; pour apple juice over all. Cover tightly with lid or aluminum foil, and bake 45 minutes. To make topping: In small saucepan, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter; stir in breadcrumbs and brown sugar until well combined. Uncover and sprinkle with topping. Bake uncovered 10-15 minutes longer or until potato slices are tender. Serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings.

 

Savory Butternut Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:

Heat oven to 400 F. Halve the squash and scoop out the seeds and strings. Place cut side up in a baking pan, adding 1/4 inch of water to the pan. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until tender. Cool, then peel and cut into 2-inch chunks. In a large skillet, melt the butter and sauté the garlic over low heat for 1 minute. Do not brown or scorch. Add the squash, toss and cook for 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, and toss to coat. Cook for 2 to 3 more minutes and serve.

 

Sautéed Zucchini with Lemon-Thyme Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 pound chicken cutlets
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup uncooked couscous
  • 3/4 pound zucchini (about 2 medium), halved and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound yellow summer squash (about 2 medium), halved and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • Chopped fresh thyme, for garnish

Preparation:

Place lemon zest and thyme in a small bowl; toss. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Sprinkle half of the lemon-thyme mixture evenly onto one side of each cutlet. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; cook the chicken, herb side down, turning after 2 minutes. When chicken is golden and cooked through (about 4 minutes), transfer to a cutting board. Cover chicken, and keep warm. Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan; gradually stir in the couscous. Remove pan from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Cover couscous, and keep warm. Sauté zucchini and squash (in the same skillet used for the chicken) over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden and tender (about 4 minutes). Stir in remaining lemon-thyme mixture, chicken broth and couscous. Spoon couscous mixture evenly among 4 plates; top each with a chicken cutlet. Garnish with thyme. Yield: 4 servings (1 chicken cutlet and 1 cup zucchini-couscous mixture).

 

Sources: bonappetit.com, gourmet.com and Joanne’s recipe box.

Joanne Henning Tedesco is editor of AzNetNews.

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