The Oak Park Farmers Market, offering high quality, locally-grown produce, is held in the Pilgrim Church Parking lot at 460 Lake St. from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday through October.

Colleen McNichols, Oak Park Farmers Market Manager, has been generously sharing her unique perspectives on our bustling local market all season! All of us at Oak Park Eats know our community is a better place because of the Oak Park Farmers Market and hardworking folks like Colleen!Here are her final thoughts for this season: 

After a week of sunshine, we have an impressive fall harvest for our last market of the season. Shop at 9:00am and enjoy the free Stone Soup (until it runs out). Chef Brad Kavanaugh, from Carnivore, works his magic with two hot soups featuring market ingredients. Our Commissioners look forward to serving the soup and thanking the community for their loyal support.

Next week your kitchen could smell heavenly if filled with roasted vegetables, warming soups and sautéed fall greens from the market. This is the last chance to fill your freezer with local goods for the winter season. Time to stock up! Also, final chance to bring home a pumpkin ranging in weight from one pound to over one hundred pounds.

As a special treat, Pilgrim Church is offering their annual chocolate donuts and BOTH apple cinnamon frosted and chocolate frosted donuts ONLY on closing day. They are a big deal and quite yummy!  Enjoy a donut, drink a hot coffee (try to bring your own cup), and listen to the sweet bluegrass music one last time.

See you this Saturday from 7:00am to 1:00pm, rain or shine.

WITH GRATITUDE:

The entire OPFM community is grateful to our incredible farmers and food artisans. Our community is nourished by their grand efforts and we thank you for picking, packing and driving to Oak Park every Saturday morning in the dark. We look forward to seeing you in May!

OAK PARK FARMERS MARKET VENDORS

Over Twenty Years at OPFM;

  • Herbally Yours (IL) 28 years
  • Johanson’s Apple World (MI) 30 plus years
  • K.V. Stovers and Sons (MI)
  • Nichols Farm and Orchard (IL)
  • Walt Skibbe Farm (MI)
  • R. Smits “The Farm” (IL) 30 plus years

Over Ten Years at OPFM:

  • Barry’s Berries (MI)
  • Ellis Family Farm (MI)
  • Genesis Growers (IL)
  • Geneva Lakes Produce (WI and IL) 
  • Hardin Farm (MI)
  • Iron Creek Organic Farm (IN)
  • North Wichert Gardens (IL)
  • Petals (IL)
  • Prairie Wind Family Farm (IL)

Five years or less at OPFM:

  • American Pride Microgreens (IL)
  • Breadman Baking Co. (IL)
  • Brian Severson Farms (IL)
  • Brunkow/LaFayette Creamery (WI)
  • Dennanne Apiary (IL)
  • Finn’s Ranch (MI)
  • J2K Capraio Creamery (IN)
  • Katic Bread (IL)
  • Mint Creek Farm (IL)
  • River Valley Ranch (WI) 
  • Tomato Mountain (WI)

FEATURED VENDOR: HERBALLY YOURS

Jim Vitalo probably holds the record as the longest term consistent vendor (this was his 28th season) at OPFM. He grows everything in his “Herbally Yours” vinegars, herbal mixes, and rubs. Market goers are partial to his tarragon vinegar and his blackjack balsamic vinegar. He trusts customers to add their own salt and offers great advice to spice up all dishes! Herbally Yours will be present at the 10/27 Market.

MEL’S MARKET READY RECIPE: SAUSAGE, VEGETABLE, AND BEAN SOUP

Comforting Sausage, Vegetable, and Bean Soup for a Crowd

This warming soup will easily feed a crowd, but you can cut the recipe in half or freeze the leftovers. To make it as comforting as possible, I like to use indulgent Italian sausage when I make this soup for guests. If I am making it for my family during the week, I substitute ground turkey or chicken to ensure we are making a healthier choice. For best results make this soup the day before you plan to serve it.

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds bulk Italian sausage (hot, sweet or a combination) or ground turkey
  • 3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 leeks (white part only), cleaned, quartered and chopped
  • 1/3 pound green beans, trimmed and sliced into 1” pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini, quartered and chopped
  • 1 medium yellow squash, quartered and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 6-7 cups reduced sodium Chicken, vegetable or beef broth
  • 1 Tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (optional)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can Garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can Cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 Cup shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup Italian Parsley Chopped
  • Cooked orchiette pasta and grated Parmesan cheese for finishing.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy bottomed stock pot until shimmering. Add the sausage to the pot (season with a pinch of red pepper flakes if desired) and break it up into large chunks with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When the meat is nearly cooked through add the carrots, celery, and onion. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add the leeks, green beans, zucchini and squash to the pot and cook stirring occasionally for an additional ten minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the tomatoes, broth, basil, bay leaf, and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer the soup for 1 hour. Take care to skim the fat as you go. Adjust seasoning, cool and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve remove the soup from the refrigerator and discard the solidified fat from the top of the soup. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and add the garbanzo beans, cannellini beans and cabbage. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove the Parmesan rind, mix in the chopped parsley and serve over a bit of cooked pasta and garnished with grated Parmesan cheese.

Mel’s Quick Kitchen Tips:

Pristine Pasta: Pasta releases starch when it cooks and can quickly over thicken soups. To make matters worse, pasta breaks down rapidly in broth making for lack luster leftovers. To prevent this common kitchen disaster always cook and store noodles separately from soups (especially chicken noodle). Place a portion of cold, perfectly cooked pasta directly into soup bowls; ladling hot soup over cold noodles will warm them through in an instant without effect the texture and thickness of lovingly prepped soups!

Regarding the Rind: Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is expensive and it is tough to see any bit of it go to waste. Rather than discard the hard Parmesan rind, hang on to it and use it to lend savory flavor boost to a myriad of dishes. Slow cooking the rind aids in developing complex flavors. Simply toss the rind into simmering red sauces for pasta, minestrone soups, or bean based dishes like the recipe included here and fish it out before serving.

VENDOR NOTES FROM PRAIRIE WIND FARM:

Cabbage takes on its best flavor in fall due to the cold frosts and daytime warm up cycles that occur in the fall time. Cabbage can store well in a refrigerator drawer. You can put the cabbage in a plastic bag to help retain moisture but it isn’t totally necessary. If you use only a partial head, make sure to tightly wrap the remainder and put into the fridge. When properly stored, cabbage can last from 3 weeks to up to 2 months in your refrigerator.

Parsnips are closely related to carrots, though they have a nutty-sweet taste and hearty texture all their own. Jeff and team dug these parsnips this fall, so they are young, delicate and particularly well-suited to sautés, mashing or roasting. They will store wel,l wrapped in plastic, in your refrigerator.

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