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North Park Farmers' Market Blog

Basil Dazzle

May 17, 2012 - 6:17am
Chris S


Buy fresh sweet basil from Suzie’s Farm or Valdivia Farm at the North Park Farmers’ Market and lend its lovely aroma to fruit, vegetable, cheese and pasta dishes each Thursday. You’re probably already imagining ripe tomatoes from JR Organics mixed with chopped basil and spread over bruschetta of toasted slices Belen Bakery’s ciabatta rubbed with California Olive new truffle oil. What says summer like simple plates of basil, tomatoes and sinful fresh burrata from Taste Cheese? Try fresh linguine from Lisko Imports topped with homemade basil pesto.

Basil also gets friendly with fresh summer fruits: try a salad of fresh greens from Maciel Farm topped with sliced peaches from Smit Orchards, a little chevre from Nicolau Farms and a healthy handful of freshly chopped basil. Use strawberries from Kawano Farm and Eureka lemons from Paradise Valley Ranch in this strawberry-basil lemonade or add an apple for this summery Sangria. Basil’s in season throughout the summer, so add a little basil-dazzle to dinner tonight!

Nopales? Yes, pa-leese!

April 26, 2012 - 7:29am
Chris S

Visit Gilbert Quintos farm at the North Park Farmers’ Market for fresh nopales, the tender, edible shoots of the nopal cactus that are also known as prickly pear.  Look for flat green pads about the size of your hand, and be careful; the sharp spines may still be attached!  If they are, use a vegetable peeler to remove them. Then brush them with a little olive oil and throw them on the  grill, about five minutes on each side; enjoy them in a taco with grilled green onions from Kawano Farm, or serve them with a grass fed strip steak from DaLe Ranch.  

To enjoy nopales in a salad or scrambled into farm fresh eggs form Paradise Valley Ranch, first cut them into strips, cook them in simmering water for about twenty minutes and allow them to cool. They have a little of the slimy quality of okra, so you may want to rinse and add fresh salted water halfway through. Then toss them with any of your favorite vegetables like radishes and tomatoes, from JR Organics or Valdivia Farms, and top with a sliced avocado and a squeeze of fresh lime. Pick up sweet potatoes from Proios Farm and try this lovely salad. Say yes to nopales this Thursday!

Grin and Carrot

March 28, 2012 - 2:12pm
Chris S


Crunchy carrots from Kawano, Suzie’s Farm and JR Organics at the North Park Farmers’ Market make the perfect snack anytime, whether you dunk them in raw garlic spread from Majestic Garlic, hummus from Lisko or Baba Foods, or any of the delicious Bitchin’ Sauce flavors.

Toss shredded carrots with  olive oil from the California OIive,  a squeeze of fresh lemon from Gilbert Quintos or Paradise Valley and a little mustard for a classic French carrot salad; add apples, almonds and raisins from Smit Orchards to give it an American twist (but skip drowning them in mayo ala the old school cafeteria version).  

If you’d rather cook  your carrots, try this gorgeous vegetable ribbon pasta recipe; you’ll want to add zucchini from Valdivia Farms, mushrooms from Kawano and butter from Springhill Cheese Company to your shopping list.  Don’t overlook the carrots’ edible green tops; grab some green garlic from Suzie’s and almonds from Hopins AG and whip up this carrot top pesto to spread on ciabatta from Belen Bakery or, better yet, drizzle it over homemade carrot soup.  That’s a bowl of 24 carrot gold!

Lettuce Gather

March 8, 2012 - 9:14am
Chris S


Tender red and green leaf, buttery Bibb, crisp romaine, and gorgeous Galactic are just some of the lettuces found at the North Park Farmers’ Market from Gilbert Quintos, JR Organics and Suzie’s Farm. Not just for salads anymore, these garden fresh greens can play multiple roles in your next dinner party. With its deep red wine color, slightly bitter flavor, and generously large leaves, galactic lettuce is perfect for an appetizer of lettuce wraps filled with braised beef from DaLe Ranch.  

Firm and crunchy romaine lettuce can take the heat, so slice a head in half, brush it with olive oil and grill it over hot coals - you’ll love the slightly smoky flavor, and it’s even better if you top it with a crumble of Parmigiano reggiano from Taste Cheese.  Think outside the box and try lettuce soup - it’s different and delicious, and a perfect way to use up any leftover lettuce hanging around the back of your refrigerator.  

If it is salad you're serving, there’s an endless list of toppings available at the market - will you pick up olives from Lisko Imports, dates from Morocco Gold, winter hoop-house tomatoes from Valdivia Farms or apples and almonds from Smit Orchards? Come by the North Park Farmers’ Market on Thursday and lettuce give you some more ideas!

Make a Date With Destiny

February 29, 2012 - 6:15pm
Chris S

Make a date with Morocco Gold at the North Park Farmers’ Market and savor the flavor of their decadently sweet and delicious medjool dates.  With a taste of brown sugar and a hint of spice, dates have a favorite farmers’ market crop for about 6,000 years! Fill them with your favorite bleu from Taste Cheese and wrap with bacon for a classic date starter, or pick up poultry from DaLe Ranch and almonds from Hopkins Ag or Smit Orchards to try this roast chicken with date and almond stuffing.   Morocco Gold also makes a fantastic date jam that pairs perfectly with locally made Pacific Beach Peanut Butter and fresh bread from Belen Bakery.  You can find a recipe for Palm Springs style date shakes and lots of other great date ideas from San Diego writer Susan Russo here.   We’ll see you Thursday at North Park Farmers’ market - it’s a date!


Fondues and Fon-Don'ts

February 16, 2012 - 6:03pm
Chris S

Fondue is the classic Swiss dish of melted cheese with wine, served in a communal pot with all kinds of delicious treats for dipping and perfect for this week's chilly nights. The North Park Farmers' Market has all the ingredients you need, and here are a few tips to make your fondue fun:

DO start with great cheeses. Stop by Taste Cheese and pick up great cave aged Gruyere from the mountains of Switzerland, and maybe a tub of their signature Shredded Blend, or try Springhill Cheese Company’s Old World Portuguese.
DO serve crunchy vegetables like bright purple carrots, crisp celery and French radishes from J.R. Organics; romanesco cauliflower from Suzie’s Farm; or zucchini from Valdivia Farm.
DO include some roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts, parsnips or mushrooms from Proios or Kawano Farm.

DON'T forget a loaf or two of fresh bread from Belen Artisan Bakers for cubing and dipping.
DON'T be afraid to add your own touch to the flavor, perhaps by using apple or cherry cider from Smit instead of (or along with) the traditional wine or Kirsch.  
DON'T skip the salad - a simple plate of farm fresh greens with a squeeze of lemon and a splash of California Olive Oil is all you need to compliment your fondue. 

Ready, Set, Dunk!


Spread the Joy o' Cherimoya

February 1, 2012 - 6:48pm
Chris S


Mark Twain called it “the most delicious fruit known to men,” while others have compared its flavor to a blend of pineapple, banana, peach, papaya and strawberry. R&L Farms has plenty of fresh cherimoyas at the North Park market, but the season is short so stock up today. The creamy white flesh of a ripe cherimoya has the rich consistency of custard and a decadent tropical aroma. 

If you’re an immigrant to San Diego (like me), you might not have seen this delicious fruit before; almost all the plantings in the United States are right here in this county.  Look for a light green fruit, about the size of an avocado, with indentations that look like thumbprints; from a distance you might mistake it for an artichoke. Pick one that feels slightly soft if you’ll be eating it today - both the taste and texture triumph only when the fruit is perfectly ripe.  Choose firmer fruit if it will be on your shelf for a few days.

Spoon the tasty treat right from the pale green skin, and enjoy it straight up or dress it in the Mexican style by adding a squeeze of lime from Paradise Valley Ranch.  Hmmm, why not try a squeeze of navel orange or even tangelo for something very Californian?  Another great way to appreciate the fragrant fruit is to scoop it atop a bowl of freshly sliced strawberries from Kawano farms - think of it as a vegan version of yogurt with fruit. Or get fancy with this Cherimoya Soup recipe with apple juice from Smit Orchards and honey from Meljess Bees. You'll enjoy-a your cherimoya!


Shop North Park for the Win!

February 1, 2012 - 6:28pm
Brijet M


Score a big win with your football buddies by shopping the North Park Farmers’ Market before the Super Bowl. Those “lucky” enough to attend the game this year will be bundled up in big coats, hats and mittens in Indianapolis with a high temperature predicted to be 38 degrees. Really lucky fans here in sunny San Diego can enjoy the big game in tees and sandals!

Start with appetizers - grab a few baguettes from Belen Bread, a bottle of California Olive Oil for dipping, some manly Beemster and Mimolette cheeses from Taste Cheese and scarlet grapes from Smit Orchard. Forget the fried potato chips and heavy onion dip! Grab crunchy carrots, celery and squash from Valdivia Farms and Suzie’s Farm to serve with chipotle or pesto Bitchin’ Sauce and Lisko Artisan Deli’s hummus. While you’re at the Bitchin’ booth - grab some extra tubs to spread on your pre-game sandwiches, grilled chicken or fish!

Speaking of the grill, get in on the biggest grilling day of the year with farm fresh chicken or a flank steak from Da-Le Ranch. Make it a great ‘Half-Thyme’ meal with thyme, dill and cilantro from J.R. Organics to season your grilled meat or veggies. Get your guac on with big avocados from Paradise Valley Ranch, limes from Gilbert Quintos’ Farm and jalapenos from Proios Family Farm. Don’t forget to tell the farmer when you’ll be mashing those avocados to get the best advice on ripeness.

Not hosting the game this year? Scoop up a tin of honey cinnamon roasted almonds from Hopkins AG and a bunch of pretty blooms from Hidalgo Flowers for the host and you’ll be sure to be named Most Valuable Guest!

Just as Cute and Tasty

January 19, 2012 - 6:25am
Robyn G & Catt W


You've got to hand it to the three California Citrus growers that branded their clementines as Cuties and made them a marketing legend and a guilt-free, go back for seconds (or thirds) food for late night sweet tooth cravings. Just as tasty and easy to eat, find Page tangerines, Clementines and Satsuma tangerines at the North Park Farmers' Market this week. You'll be paying just for the fruit, not the brand, so you'll save a little cash while encouraging your kids' love of these naturally sweet and healthy treats. Pick up a dozen from Paradise Valley Ranch, Smit Orchards or R&L Farms.

Eat them as is, for a Vitamin C-packed, super sweet snack, or get creative and try adding a touch of tangerine juice along with the lime in guacamole for a surprising undertone. They're amazing as an addition to many salads: section a tangerine, toss with fresh spinach from Suzie’s Farm and a thinly sliced red onion from JR Organics. Whisk together a little tangerine juice, salt and pepper, California Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar and you’ve got yourself a great start to any dinner. For a main dish, pick up a tri tip from Da Le Ranch and vroccoli from Kawano Farms and try this Tangerine Beef recipe. 

It's cold season, so spike your green tea with the juice of a tangerine, some fresh mint and a squeeze of honey from Meljess Bees for a soothing and healing beverage. Tangerines are usually at the market form November to late April, so enjoy them while you can.


Cauliflower Power!

January 11, 2012 - 4:49pm
Julie SR and Catt W


If you've ever considered cauliflower a boring old standby, a trip to the North Park Farmers' Market this week may change your mind. At Suzie's Farm choose from pale green kaleidoscopic Romanesco or their newest deep pink Graffiti cauliflower. Each has its own distinctive taste, and the colors add a little fun to the plate. (Graffiti actually turns purpley blue when cooked - take that, George Carlin.) Rodney Kawano Farms and Proios Family Fams offer the more typical white heads, but like all vegetables, the taste is more intense when it's fresh from the farm.

No matter what you cauli it, rich in vitamin C and K, cauliflower is perfect for crudites dipped in Baba Food’s Baba Ganoush or Majestic Garlic's sprouted hummus. We love that veg on veg action. A quick trim and steam or slow roast are easy ways to cook florets or whole heads.  For an incredibly eye-catching side, steam a Romanesco for around 15 minutes and serve it whole, with the slightest drizzle of Springhill Farm's fresh butter.

Any variety can be added to a simple veggie stir fry with carrots from JR Organics and peppers and squash from Valdividia Farms. Or make a gratin that is as easy and comforting as it is pretty, with a little gooey gruyere from Taste Cheese. You've got the (cauli)power!