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April 3, 2015 - 10:49pm
Lee M

Orange you glad that Vitamin C Day falls on a Saturday, so you can see all there is to C at the Little Italy Mercato?

There are so many reasons Vitamin C deserves its own day, even though National Ascorbic Acid Day doesn't roll so trippingly off the tongue. Load up on strawberries from JR Organics, Kawano Farms, and Suzie’s Farm or blueberries from Pudwill Farms and you're fostering tissue growth and repair throughout your entire body. When you buy broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower picked tirelessly by the Suncoast Farms crew, your teeth and bones get a boost. Cook up a mess of spinach, turnip greens, and kale from African Sisters Farm; antioxidants from the Vitamin C in those leafy wonders is known to combat the signs of aging, and thought to have an important role in fighting cancer and heart-disease.


November 6, 2012 - 2:55pm
Christopher S.

It’s not too soon to start planning your Thanksgiving Day dinner at the North Park Thursday Farmers’ Market. Da-Le Ranch is taking pre-orders for naturally raised turkeys from their Lake Elsinore property; they range from about 12-22 pounds. Talk to the Not So Fast food truck about turkey orders as well. 

Find sweet potatoes and yams at Proios Family Farm, pie pumpkins at JR Organics, green beans at Kawano Farms, bread for stuffing at Belen Bakery, plus onion, celery and fresh herbs at Suzie’s Farm. Pick up some kale from African Sisters and put this crispy kale salad on your Thanksgiving appetizer menu. 

Don’t forget dessert; pick up Granny Smith apples from Smit Orchards and pomegranates from Paradise Valley Ranch for this apple-pomegranate pie that’s sure to become a holiday tradition. We sure are thankful for our great local farmers!

KaleStorm Headed to PB!

March 26, 2012 - 4:35pm
Chris S


Feeling frail?   Eat some kale! You’ll find vibrant green, deep red and even bright purple  kale from JR organics and Suzie’s Farm at the Pacific Beach Tuesday Farmers’ Market this week. Red Russian, curly green, black, blue Scotch, Lacinato and Red Monarch are a few of our favorites.

Curly green kale combines beautifully with shaved fennel from Suzie’s, olive oil from The California Olive and balsamic vinegar from Bistro Blends, and spinach fettucine from Lisko Imports in this kale and fennel pasta recipe. Bake these tasty, crispy kale chips  with Red Monarch kale - they’re ideal for dipping in original Bitchin Sauce.  Lacinato kale, also known as dinosaur kale (a much more fun name, we think!) is a traditional crop of Tuscany and an essential ingredient in an authentic minestrone. Red Russian kale seems to have a particular affinity for garlic, so sautee it with some as a side dish, or layer it with garlic jack cheese from Springhill Cheese Company and sourdough bread from Belen bakery for a healthy twist on grilled cheese sandwiches.  

Speaking of health, there’s  growing body of evidence that kale is full of particularly potent source of nutrients that reduce the odds of developing several cancers. (But people taking commonly-prescribed blood thinners Warfarin should talk to their doctor before eating large amounts of kale.) A vegetable that’s tasty, versatile, and super healthy.  That’s something to kalebrate!

Green Is the New Black

January 4, 2012 - 5:08pm
Julie R


Green is the new black and the North Park Farmers’ Market will keep you in style. Stock up your fridge with fresh picked green veggies, sip a Greenfix smoothie and welcome the new year with good nutrition. Whether you're trying to get back into a pair of jeans, boost your immune system, do a junk food cleanse, or  start a whole new diet plan, greens will add a lot to your food wardrobe.

The easiest way to incorporate more greens into your diet is to double up on vegetable side dishes and use fresh herbs to give them a whole new dimension. Kawano Farms has tons of baby broccoli and mountains of fresh green beans. Trim and roast broccoli and beans with garlic and onions from Proios’ Family Farms and flavored oil from The California Olive. Quickly steam young spinach from JR Organics or hide it in a fritatta with fresh eggs from Paradise Valley Ranch and be wowed with the incredible flavors and non-traditional punch of vitamin C. Susie’s Farm offers kale, Swiss chard, and cabbage in a braising mix that you can purchase by the pound, ready to cook. Throw a heaping pile in a cast iron skillet, cook until tender and squeeze a bit of lemon from R&L Farms on top.  It’s easy to be green when the farmers' market is in your neighborhood every week.


Do You Feel Lucky?

December 30, 2011 - 6:13pm
Catt W


Every culture has traditional foods for inviting luck in the New Year and whichever you choose the Little Italy Mercato offers all the ingredients you need for January 1st eating.

In Italy, as in many cultures, pork is usually on the menu since pigs move forward and represent the fat of the land. Conversely, finish that lobster on New Year's Eve. They move backwards and are considered bad luck on New Year's Day. Ditto chickens and turkeys that scratch backwards, but we're thinking rabbit would be auspicious. Along with the pork, Italians eat lentils symbolizing money, like the beans and peas that many cultures consume.

We're going for the version that started in the Southern United States. Buy Susie's Farm's fresh black eyed peas; they cook up much faster than the dried ones. Suncoast Farms offers a variety of dried beans, so pick your favorites. Add sausage from SonRise Ranch or pork chops from Da Le Ranch. For traditional Hoppin' John, add rice.

We'll be cooking it all up with a mess of greens, representing paper money. Germans typically eat cabbage or sauerkraut and Happy Pantry has you covered there. Boiled or sauteed collards, kale, chard or even spinach will work, and JR Organics, Suzie's, and Sage Mountain Farms offer a wide variety. Add a chopped onion and some crushed garlic. We like the kick of a sliced jalapeno or other chiles. Cornbread from Belen Bakery will round out your meal. Then just sit back and welcome good fortune in 2012!


Comfort Food for Comfort Moods

November 7, 2011 - 12:52pm
Britta T

This past weekend was divine- with intermittent rain and blustery, grey days. It was time to hunker down, stay inside, and enjoy warm food and good company. Comfort food has a different tone though, when you live and work at the farmers' market. Comfort food means fresh pasta and braised greens, or upscaled, locavore-friendly grilled cheese sandwiches, or fresh spiced apple butter and biscuits...

Here are a few ideas for you for the next time you get caught in the rain, or the sunshine, and want a healthy(er) twist on cozy good cookin'.

Spaghetti with Braised Kale
Braise either curly or lacinato (Tuscan black kale), with chopped onions from Suzie's Farm and fresh garlic from Valdivia. Add the greens to a bowl of steamy, hot angel hair pasta from Likso Imports and squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice with a bit of grated Parmesan Romano cheese from Mary at Taste Cheese.

Escarole and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese

You know this. You know how you like it. Be creative with what you can find at the market and make a sandwich that you'll be remembered by. Start with a decent portion of sourdough or your favorite loaf from Belen Bakery. Take home a hefty slab of Spring Hill Goat Cheddar or maybe their dry Pepper Jack cheese, and shred it carefully. Pick out a beautiful specimen of frisee or escarole from Suzie's Farm or JR Organics. Sautee slices of white onion with a bit salt until the onion begins to carmelize. Meanwhile, brush the bread with some olive oil and layer on the onions, escarole, and cheese. Then grill it until its crispy and melty in the pan, add pepper or salt if needed, and serve immediately...

Spiced Apple Butter

Spiced apple butter on warm toast is a treat from heaven. Luckily, Smit Orchards and R& L Farms have you covered for tart Fuji's and sweet Pink Ladies. Or try combining apples and asian pears for more complexity. Cook the apples down with spices like ginger, star anise, cinammon and cardamon. Add lemon and a bit of sugar, mash it all together once its cooked, and you have yourself an excellent addition to any brunch.  


Pleasant to be a Peasant

October 12, 2011 - 11:48am
Britta T


Face it- Fall is here, and as much as you love the warm afternoons, you're craving the chilly mornings and the darker nights because you know they beckon warm, simmering soups and heartier, family meals. So, do as the peasants do: head to the Pacific Beach Tuesday farmers' market after work to gather a few staple, seasonal ingredients, head home to your loved ones, and share some delicious, warming recipes that don't cost you an arm and a leg.

Potato and Tuscan Kale Soup

Use fresh Italian chicken sausage from Son Rise Ranch, browned and sauteed, to spice this incredibly simple "peasant" soup. Cook russet or sweet potatoes from Produce Stand in chicken broth with fresh garlic and onions from Maciel Family Farms. Stir in chopped kale from Suzie's, and add a bit of fresh pressed olive oil from Bari's to round out the taste. Season with salt and pepper and let it simmer for a few minutes to tenderize the kale and bring out all the flavors.

Butternut Squash Soup and Carmelized Pears
For a sweeter soup, opt for using roasted butternut squash. Suzie's Farm offers petite or "family size" squash to fit everyone's needs.

Start by sauteeing leeks in hot pan with olive oil. Add diced squash, water, and fresh spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Simmer for 40 minutes, or until the squash begins to soften. While the soup is cooling, halve a few sweet Asian pears from Lone Oak Ranch and sautee them, slowly, in grapeseed oil or butter. Lower the heat, adding a bit of fresh maple syrup, cinnamon, and balsamic vinegar. Cook until pears are soft. Then all you have to do is puree the squash mixture, reheat before serving, and garnish with beautiful, tender caramelized pears. Don't forget to serve warm, fresh baked soda or dark rye bread from Belen Bakery to sop up all the leftovers....

Get Juiced!

July 25, 2011 - 6:35am
Carolyn K

Enter the North Park Farmers' Market and you can't miss the unmistakable buzz of the blenders at Green Fix Smoothies as they make their delicious fruit and vegetable concoctions.  But we're also hearing the buzz of our shoppers talking about juicing at home.   Whether you use fruit or vegetables, juicing is a great way to use up the prolific summer offerings - especially the blemished ones - and get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals. 

Go green and detox like the stars by blending or juicing a mix of kale and lettuce from JR organics, a cucumber or two from Suzie's Farm and the juice of lemon from Paradise Valley Ranch.   To brighten up the flavor of any vegetable juice try adding an orange or two from Ranchito Rainbow or carrots from Kawano Farms into the mix.  For a fruit forward take try blending in pitted cherries, blueberries or peaches from Smit Orchards to your greens based drink. 

Now that should get you juiced!



March 10, 2011 - 3:00pm
Hillary E.

Math geeks, we know you're out there, this one's for you. Monday is Pi Day - 3/14 - or as we like to call it Pi(e) Day. Forget about the traumas of high school geometry class; use your weekend bounty from the Little Italy Mercato to bake a pie instead.

There's crisp, sweet Fuji apples from Smit Orchards and Lone Oak to make the classic American treat, it's up to you to decide double crust or crumble. Try adding some Fiscalini 18-month cheddar from Taste Cheese into the crust for an elegant twist. Blueberries from Pudwill Farms and sweet potatoes from Vang Farms will each make outstanding options in the confectionary category, but don't forget about savory!

Wilt any of the hearty greens like chard or kale from JR organics and Maciel Family and mix with duck eggs from Schaner and some cream as a base for a rich custard-like quiche. Sautéed baby purple artichokes from Suncoast, Nicolau Farms’ fresh chevre and a handful of chopped herbs from Suzie’s are another great combination.

The pie-sibilities are endless and we want to see what you’re making with the Mercato offerings. Share your pie pictures and recipes on our Facebook page or email them to

Farm to Table: Grammy Edition

February 11, 2011 - 3:27pm
Hillary E.


Awards season is in full swing, and this Sunday is the 53rd annual Grammy Awards. With so many people holding viewing parties try out some of these 2011 nominee themed dishes:

Cee Lo Green Bruschetta – Sautee a few bunches of chopped kale or chard from JR Organics or Vang Farms with a pinch of red pepper flakes until it softens and wilts. Put it on toasted baguette slices from Bread & Cie and top it all off with torn pieces of fresh buratta from Taste Cheese and a drizzle of olive oil from Bistro Blends or Italianissimo.

Arcade Fire Roasted Chicken – Start with your farm-fresh chicken from Descanso Valley or Da-Le Ranch, pat it dry, give it a good sprinkling of salt on the outside and stuff it with fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme from Schaner Farms (slip some under the skin too), a quartered lemon from Polito Family Farms and a few cloves of peeled garlic from Sage Mountain. Roast it uncovered in a pan in an oven set to 375F for one and a half hours for a 4-pound chicken so the skin turns crispy and brown. Squeeze the roasted lemon over the top just before serving.

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