The Oak Park Farmers Market’s 45th season is underway from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday through October. Vendor stalls are moved from the usual Pilgrim Church parking lot site on Lake Street to nearby streets to allow room for safe social distancing and preorders offered via an online app as part of a pilot program.
Market musings from Katie Weaver:
Late summer is my favorite time at the market – stone fruit, tomatoes, sweet corn, melons! This past weekend I picked up some peaches, plums, blueberries, sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, basil, and feta cheese. I had a couple pizza recipes in mind and wanted to try out a blueberry and corn salad that’s been in my head for a couple weeks.
We dietitians like to say, “eat the rainbow.” It’s a way to emphasize the importance of variety in fruits and vegetables, so that we are able to get as many of our important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants as we can from food.
These dishes sure did bring the rainbow to my table: dark purple and blue of plums and blueberries, reds and yellows of tomatoes, orange of peaches and some nectarines I had at home, and green from basil and chives.
This summer we’ve had several pizza nights at home, making dough and sauce from scratch, and cooking the pizzas on a pizza stone on our grill. I’ve also been doing a lot of cooking from the Half-Baked Harvest Super Simple Cookbook by Tieghan Gerard, which has several pizza recipes, including a three cheese and nectarine white pizza and a cherry tomato and pepperoni pizza. This weekend, my daughter and I made some dough, and then I made a couple tweaks to these recipes.
First, rather than just nectarines, I decided to add peaches and plums to the white pizza, which also included mozzarella, Parmesan and blue cheeses. After a quick cook in the super hot grill, the pizza was topped chopped basil and honey.
Continuing with the honey on pizza theme, I merged the pepperoni and cherry tomato pizza with my favorite pizza from Oak Park’s Billy Bricks Pizza: the Honey Love. The dough was topped with crushed tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Then I swapped the pepperoni for some soppressata (thanks Billy Bricks). After cooking I topped the pizza with honey and red pepper flakes. Both pizzas were so good, it was hard to stop eating even though we were full!
A few years ago I had a corn panna cotta topped with fresh blueberries and drizzled with a blueberry sauce at Leña Brava in Chicago’s West Loop. Always one to try to recreate dishes I’ve had in restaurants, I’ve wanted to play with the corn and blueberry combo for a while, but never was up for making panna cotta. One night this week, I decided to make a corn and blueberry salad. I broiled the corn, but it would be even better on the grill. I cut it from the cob, and put it in a bowl with an equal amount of blueberries. I added diced cucumber, chopped chives and basil before dressing the colorful salad with olive oil, lemon juice, honey and a bit of salt and pepper. Finally, I topped it with feta cheese.
The salad was better than I could have imagined. The sweetness of the blueberries balanced out the rich creaminess of the cooked corn and the bright freshness of the basil and chives. The tartness of the feta brought all the flavors together.
I’m already looking forward to next week’s market bounty, dreaming about some juicy cantaloupe, more peaches, kale, and heirloom tomatoes. I suspect there will be another pizza night in the works. By mid-week my haul will be dwindling, and but my mouth will be watering for the next trip to the farmer’s market.
— Guest writer Katie Weaver is a registered dietitian, Oak Park Farmers Market Commissioner and avid home cook.