The 2013 season is coming to a close at most Twin Cities metro area farmers markets.
The St. Paul Farmers Market in Lowertown continues Saturdays through Nov. 23 and Sundays through Nov. 17. The market's winter market schedule begins Dec. 7 and runs Saturdays (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) through April 19, 2014.
The Minneapolis Farmers Market on the western edge of downtown is open daily through mid-November, and continues to sell Christmas trees until Dec. 24. The market's Nicollet Mall outpost runs Thursdays through mid-November.
Here are the closing dates of two dozen other markets.
Fulton Farmers Market: Saturday, Oct. 26
Kingfield Farmers Market: Sunday, Oct. 27
Linden Hills Farmers Market: Sunday, Oct. 27
Midtown Farmers Market: Saturday, Oct. 26 (Tuesday market continues through Oct. 29)
Mill City Farmers Market: Saturday, Oct. 26
Northeast Farmers Market: Saturday, Oct. 19
St. Paul Farmers Market -- Seventh Place: Tuesday, Oct. 15 (Thursday market continues through Oct. 17)
St. Paul Farmers Market -- St. Thomas More: Friday, Oct. 25
Apple Valley Farmers Market: Saturday, Oct. 26
Bloomington Farmers Market: Saturday, Oct. 12
Burnsville Farmers Market -- Mary, Mother of the Church: Thursday, Oct. 31
Burnsville Farmers Market -- Burnsville Parkway: Saturday, Oct. 26
Lakeville Farmers Market: Wednesday, Oct. 30
Prior Lake Farmers Market: Saturday, Oct. 26
Savage Farmers Market: Sunday, Oct. 27
Andover Farmers Market: Tuesday, Oct. 29
Maple Grove Farmers Market: Thursday, Oct. 24
Maplewood Farmers Market: Wednesday, Oct. 30
Roseville Farmers Market: Tuesday, Oct. 29
West St. Paul Farmers Market: Friday, Oct. 25
White Bear Lake Farmers Market: Friday, Oct. 25
Woodbury Farmers Market: Sunday, Oct. 27
Excelsior Farmers Market: Thursday, Oct. 31
Hopkins Farmers Market: Saturday, Oct. 26
Here's what's going on, food- and drink-wise, in the Twin Cities this weekend:
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY: Seventeen Minnesota and Wisconsin cheesemakers -- including Alemar Cheese Co., Shepherd's Way Farms, Singing Hills Goat Dairy and Stickney Hill Dairy -- are the main attraction at the Minnesota Cheese Festival, along with artisan food producers, a handful of food trucks (Foxy Falafel, the Moral Omnivore) and wine and beer pairings. Workshops and demonstrations, too, all held at the International Bazaar at the Minnesota State Fair in Falcon Heights. Tickets $15 ($10 children) or $65 for a VIP pass, and must be purchased in advance; no at-the-door sales.
SATURDAY: The brewers at Summit Brewing Co. will be on hand at Brit's Pub & Eating Establishment (outdoors, on the restaurant's rooftop veranda) in Minneapolis, tapping 10 of their latest brews. Brewers are available from noon to 3 p.m., taps run from noon to 4 p.m.
SATURDAY: Drop in on the 10th-annual Wild Rice Festival at the Harriet Alexander Nature Center in Roseville. The day begins with a wild rice pancake breakfast (served with wild rice sausages and locally produced maple syrup), and includes games, storytelling, crafts, demonstrations and more, all focused on local Native American cultures. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
SATURDAY: Meet local author Anne Gillespie ("Ingrebretsen's Saga") at a meet-and-greet (samples, book signings) at the Midtown Farmers Market in Minneapolis.
SATURDAY: Chef Sameh Wadi of Saffron Restaurant & Lounge and World Street Kitchen in Minneapolis will take to the podium at the Minneapolis Farmers Market at 10:30 a.m. (free). Also at the market: be sure to pick up your free reusable shopping bag, starting at 8 a.m.
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY: Meet influential cookbook author Deborah Madison ("Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone," "Local Flavors," "The Greens Cookbook") and hear her talk about her latest book, "Vegetable Literacy" at two events: On Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis, and on Sunday at 4 p.m. at SubText Bookstore in St. Paul. Free.
When vegetarian cookbook powerhouse Deborah Madison (pictured, above) dropped into town recently, signing books at the Mill City Farmers Market, I picked up a copy of her "Local Flavors" for my sister Linda, a dedicated CSA and farmers market cook.
It's a good thing that I already owned a copy, otherwise Linda probably would have never seen hers. That's because this is one terrific guide to imaginative, flavorful and hyper-seasonal cooking. It was also ahead of its time. When the book came out in 2002, there were few farmers market-inspired cookbooks; now the shelves are flooded with them, but none have the Madison touch (Find a Q& A with Madison here, from the Star Tribune's archives).
A case in point? This easy-to-prepare recipe for eggplant-bell pepper-olive spaghetti.
ROBUST END-OF-THE SUMMER SPAGHETTI
Serves 4 to 6.
Note: From "Local Flavors" by Deborah Madison. "Giving the last of the summer vegetables a lengthy time on the stove turns them into a robust and deep-flavored sauce, hearty enough for the beginning of fall," writes Madison.
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. eggplant, peeled and sliced a scant 1/2-inch thick
2 red or yellow bell peppers, or one of each, halved lengthwise and seeded
1/4 c. olive oil, plus extra for the pan
1 onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 anchovies, chopped
1/3 c. chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
2 lbs. ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (reserving juices)
1/4 c. Kalamata or Gaeta olives, pitted and chopped
3 tbsp. capers, rinsed
1 tbsp. dried oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. spaghetti
1 c. grated pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
Preheat broiler. Brush a sheet pan lightly with olive oil, arrange eggplant on it and brush tops with more oil. Broil on both sides until browned. Remove and cut eggplant into wide strips. Lightly oil peppers, then broil, skin-side up, until blistered. Remove from oven, stack them on top of one another and allow them to steam for 15 minutes, then peel and dice into smal squares.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, peppers, garlic, anchovies and parsley and saute until onion and peppers are softened, about 5 minutes. Lower heat and add eggplant, tomatoes, olives, capers, oregano and 1/2 cup water (or juice from tomatoes). Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta, following directions on package, then drain. Transfer pasta to a large heated bowl, spoon sauce over pasta and top with cheese and parsley. Toss and serve.
Locally raised heirloom tomatoes, in all their colorful glory, are pouring into farmers markets and stores, including my go-to grocer, the Seward Co-op. I'm finding it impossible to walk through the store's produce section and not buy them. That's exactly what happened to me yesterday, and when I got home I remembered a recipe from former Chet's Taverna chef (and now Three Sons Meats Co. owner) Mike Phillips, from a story published in Taste in 2003.
I made it for dinner last night (modifying it slightly, see below), and yes, it was every bit as lovely as I remembered; the tomatoes' color and flavor really shine, enhanced by a tomato-fortified vinaigrette and tons of basil. "You don't need to do a whole lot with tomatoes," is what Phillips said in the story. "They're so good on their own that you don't want to mess them up too much. Personally, I like to do what my grandma would do, which is make a tomato sandwich, just sliced tomatoes and mayonnaise on toast."
Same here. But I'll also be making this salad again in the coming weeks. It's too good to wait until next year's tomato season.
HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALAD WITH GREENS AND CROUTONS
From Mike Phillips, formerly of Chet's Taverna in St. Paul.
1/4 loaf crusty bread
1 clove garlic
6 to 10 different heirloom tomatoes
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish
2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cider vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 c. micro greens or baby greens
20 medium-size basil leaves
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Break bread into bite-size pieces, place on a baking sheet and bake until lightly brown, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven, cool slightly, rub with garlic and reserve.
In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, quickly sear all sides of a large tomato, charring the outside without cooking the tomato too much. Cool tomato, then core and seed and puree in a blender.
In a medium bowl, whisk tomato puree with olive oil and cider vinegar, season with salt and pepper to taste and reserve. In a large bowl, toss greens, basil, croutons and 4 to 6 tablespoons of vinaigrette and divide among four plates. Slice (or halve, or quarter) tomatoes, depending upon size, and arrange on the four plates, mixing colors and sizes. Garnish with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
Events at farmers markets this weekend include:
Saturday: The Northeast Minneapolis Farmers Market kicks off its 2012 season with its annual pancake breakfast (organic, whole-grain, of course), held in the basement of the adjacent St. Boniface Church. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Saturday: Kids can pick up tips about planting gardens at the Fulton Farmers Market. 10 to 11 a.m.
Sunday: The Linden Hills Farmers Market kicks off its inaugural season, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
For a who-where-what roster of Twin Cities farmers markets, go here.
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