05 August 2017

Weekend Cooking: The Green City Market Cookbook

Review: Green City Market Cookbook edited by the Green City Market One of my favorite things about the warmer months of the year is shopping at the local farmers' markets. I live in an area that is blessed with an abundance of outdoor markets; there are about six weekly venues, all within a few miles of my house.

The market I shop at most often is a producer-only market, meaning everything is locally grown and processed. Thus from May to November, the bulk of our diet--from fruits to veggies, from cheese to meat--is provided by people we've gotten to know over the years. I look forward to our weekly market trip.

The Green City Market in Chicago, a much bigger venue than our market, was established at the turn of the twenty-first century and is open all year. The market is host to about 50 local producers and attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year. The market's founder, the late-Abby Mandel, came up with the idea of publishing a cookbook to share recipes provided by the Green City Market farmers, vendors, and shoppers. In 2014, that dream came true, when The Green City Market Cookbook was published.

Thanks to Agate Midway, I was able to read, and cook, my way through this beautifully designed cookbook, complete with full-color photos printed on recycled paper. Because the focus is on the bounty of the local market, the majority of recipes use only vegetables and fruits, although there are plenty of dishes for the omnivores among us. (Vegans will need to look before buying.)

Review: Green City Market Cookbook edited by the Green City Market The Green City Market Cookbook is arranged seasonally, making it a great companion for farmers' market fans and home gardeners. The spring recipes are all about asparagus, peas, and strawberries, and the summer dishes contain all.the.vegetables, from eggplants to tomatoes to zucchini (plus lots of summer fruit). By fall, the recipes begin to rely on apples, squash, and root vegetables, and winter brings us meaty stews, potato-based dishes, and cabbage.

Each recipe begins with a story from the contributor, giving the book a very personal feel. In addition, because the recipes are shared by real people, they are all fairly easy to put together and, for the most part, use common ingredients. I appreciate the fact that every recipe included in the cookbook was "tested for accuracy, ease of preparation, . . . and taste." The directions look to be straightforward and well edited.

Review: Green City Market Cookbook edited by the Green City Market Some recipes have a traditional feel, like the Pumpkin-Parmesan Gnocchi with Turkey, and others are quick-and-easy variations on classic dishes, like the ratatouille I share at the end of this post. In just a few instances, a dish will shine the light on a specific producer at the Green City Market, like the recipe for goat burgers. Fortunately, almost all of these kinds of recipes welcome simple substitutions; I'm sure that burger with shallot aioli would be every bit as good made with any other ground meat.

I recommend The Green City Market Cookbook for cooks who are looking for new ideas for serving seasonal fruits and vegetables. The recipes shared by the Green City Market community will have the greatest appeal to those of you who are expanding your horizons and learning to incorporate more varied vegetables in your diet. Meat lovers, will gobble up the fish tacos, hearty chili, and spare ribs. The whole family will love the fruity desserts, and the rosemary shortbread looks like the perfect companion for an afternoon tea.

If you've been hanging out at farmers' markets for years, you might want to borrow The Green City Market Cookbook before you buy it. On the other hand, I bet the cookbook sparks your culinary creativity.

Iron Creek Ratatouille
Ratatouille is a favorite dish in our family. Using fresh-picked ingredients from our farm, we enjoy this delicious and easy recipe all summer long, after the tomatoes have had a good head start in our greenhouse. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator up to 4 days. —Tamera Mark, farmer, Iron Creek Farm

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 small eggplant, unpeeled, cut into ½-inch cubes (2 cups)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch cubes (2 cups)
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into ½-inch cubes (2 cups)
  • 2 cups ripe tomatoes, peeled if desired, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. In a large, deep skillet or sauté pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and eggplant and sauté for 5 minutes.

2. Add the red bell pepper and squash to the skillet and sauté for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sauté for 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat.

3. Stir in the basil and season with the salt and black pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm or at room temperature.

Reprinted with permission from The Green City Market Cookbook edited by Green City Market, Agate Midway, 2014, 2017. Photos were used in the context of this review; all rights and copyrights remain with Chris Cassidy Photography.

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Jackie McGuinness 8/5/17, 7:17 AM  

We are lucky to have many markets around town. St. Lawrence Market is the most historical and it is packed with tourists this time of year.
We have all kinds of weekly farmers' markets that pop up daily in various locations.

This looks like an interesting read we eat a lot of vegetables and always appreciate new ideas.

gluten Free A_Z Blog 8/5/17, 7:56 AM  

There is nothing like a local farm market. I am also fortunate to have multiple farmer's markets and organic farms in my area. I love the months they are open . I'm in the process of writing a seasonal vegetarian cookbook based on CSA produce,

bermudaonion 8/5/17, 9:12 AM  

Food from the farmer's market is the best!

Claudia 8/5/17, 12:13 PM  

Cookbooks that spark my culinary creativity are always welcome. Farmers markets are also inspiring, just looking at all the lovely fruits and veggies!

Deb in Hawaii 8/5/17, 12:36 PM  

I love cookbooks that highlight seasonal produce and also that share the personal stories behind the recipes. This looks and sounds like one to check out for sure. And now I'm craving Ratatouille. ;-)

nishitak 8/6/17, 9:57 AM  

I love these kind of markets! They make shopping so much fun!

(Diane) bookchickdi 8/6/17, 1:29 PM  

I love going to the Union Square Greenmarket, I don't get there enough.

Aarti 8/7/17, 2:04 PM  

Green City Market is my market! I love it :-) Especially at this time of year, it's just top notch with the produce. I go crazy on the tomatoes.

Unknown 8/17/17, 5:21 AM  

St. Lawrence Market is the most historical and it is packed with tourists this time of year.


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