It’s hard to miss the farm-to-table trend in restaurants these days, but how about a farm-to-table meal prepared entirely from items purchased at our own North Shore farmers markets?
DailyNorthShore sent reporters on assignment to local farmers markets to come up with a delicious meal comprised entirely of farmers markets’ pickings.
The farmers markets from Wilmette to Lake Bluff offer a huge variety of fresh vegetables, fruits and meats, as well as prepared foods and baked goods, sufficient to prepare one meal, if not a few others throughout the week. Living in the bread basket certainly has its perks.
And lest you think the meals were repetitive, each reporter came up with a distinct menu, drawing on individual inspiration as well as advice from market vendors.
Take Glencoe intern Madeline Karnes’ vegetarian meal. A crunchy French baguette at Glencoe’s French Market inspired Karnes to make bruschetta, but she took a unique twist on the dish by adding fresh asparagus, based on a vendor’s suggestion.
Reporters Steve Sadin and Libby Elliott both opted for fish as the main course, but they chose different varieties. Sadin chose wild Faroe Island salmon at the Lake Bluff Farmers Market — the Faroe Islands are located off the northwest coast of Scotland — while Elliott stayed a little more local, opting for a trout caught in Lake Superior at the Northbrook Farmers Market.
Maybe you’re a foodie but not a great cook? The farmers markets still have plenty of options. At the Ravinia market reporter Julie Kemp Pick purchased a prepared organic cranberry/poppy seed vinaigrette, as well as a spaghetti sauce seasoning blend that can be simply added to canned tomatoes or sauce.
Every reporter also found the vendors to be friendly and knowledgeable. Unlike the grocery store, at the farmers market you can find out when the produce was picked, where and when the fish was caught, what’s in season or on its way out, and what type of food an animal was fed before it was butchered. The idea is summed up succinctly in the slogan of Jake’s Country Meats, which sells pasture-raised meat at the Wilmette French Market: “Your Connection to Your Food.”
Below are the menus that DailyNorthShore reporters created entirely from North Shore farmers market bounty:
Wilmette French Market, located in the Metra parking lot at Green Bay Road, Wilmette, open Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. late April through early November.
- maple glazed pasture raised heritage breed pork chops from Jake’s Country Meats
- grilled zucchini from Klug Orchards
- red potatoes and panfried sweet candy onions from Froehlich Farms
- blueberry pie made with Duke variety blueberries from Klug Orchards
Glencoe French Market, located on Wyman Green, 675 Village Court, Glencoe, open Saturdays 8 am. to 1 p.m. to October 14.
- bruschetta prepared with a French baguette, fresh asparagus, tomatoes and basil
- mixed green salad comprised of kale, romaine and baby spinach, topped with yellow and red peppers and cucumber
- freshly baked caramel apple crumb cake
Ravinia Farmers Market, located at Jens Jensen Park, Dean Avenue between Roger Williams Avenue and St. Johns Avenue, Highland Park, open Wednesdays 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. through October 25.
- salad comprised of endive and butter lettuce, candy onion, tomato, yellow and green bell peppers and cucumber from Steven Frank Farms, dressed with an organic cranberry/poppy seed vinaigrette from Wildtree Meal Planning Solutions for Busy People
- spaghetti sauce blend seasoning from Wildtree, used to season a tomato sauce and served with pasta
- artisan French bread
Lake Bluff Farmers Market, located at the Village Green, near the intersection of Green Bay Road and Scranton Avenue, Lake Bluff, open Fridays 7 a.m. to noon, June through mid-October.
- aged cheddar cheese from The Cheese People
- grilled wild Faroe Island salmon marinated in an Asian ginger sauce from The Aspiring Kitchen
- grilled asparagus from Six Generations Farmin’ Local, Inc.
- lettuce and radish salad from Six Generations Farmin’ Local, Inc.
- strawberries from K&K Farms
Northbrook Farmers Market, located at the corner of Cherry and Meadow Lanes, Northbrook, open Wednesdays 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. through October.
- linguine carbonara prepared with fresh peas from Froehlich Farms, pasture raised bacon from Farmer Nick’s and grated Bellavitino cheese from The Cheese People
- grilled Lake Superior trout from The Aspiring Kitchen stuffed with rosemary and sautéed summer squash, zucchini, and sweet candy onions from Froehlich Farms
- herbed focaccia bread from Katic’s Bread Stand
Michigan sweet and sour cherry and rhubarb compote prepared with fruit from Froehlich Farm Stand, served with vanilla ice cream and pistachio shortbread cookies from Homemade European Goodies.
DailyNorthShore reporters Libby Elliott, Steve Sadin and Julie Kemp Pick, and intern Madeline Karnes contributed to this report.