Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fresh Ingredients and Inspiration at the Greenmarket

One of my favorite things to do on a gorgeous morning in NYC is food shopping at the Union Square Greenmarket. And when I say morning, I mean early. Assuming your Friday night was not a sloppy drunken mess, the best thing to do is to get to the market around 8:30, which takes over Union Square on Saturdays year round. The market is also open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays so go on a weekday if you can to avoid the crowd and mingle with real NYC chefs shopping for their restaurants.

There are many Greenmarkets throughout the 5 boroughs, but Union Square is the biggest and most famous one in New York. Unlike other famous markets such as Borough Market in London, Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona or the Ferry Building Farmers Market in San Francisco, Union Square is known more for fresh produce, seafood, meats, cheeses than for prepared food vendors. So don't go on an empty stomach. Go instead with an open mind about what you are going to bring home to your kitchen. Don't get me wrong, it's fine to go with your grocery list and the recipes you have in mind. But I have the most fun when I go with a blank sheet and let the best looking local ingredients of the day inspire me. You're going to see things you won't get at your neighborhood grocery store: purple cauliflower, tuscan kale, striped eggplant, yellow carrots, thai basil. Not to mention fresh seafood, local cheeses and organic meats like bison, duck, chicken. This is also where I stock up on fresh herbs and flowers for the week. The best thing is everything is CHEAP. Massive bunches of basil and rosemary for less than $2. Huge heads of broccoli and cauliflower for $4. Enough flowers to fit 3-4 vases for $6. Beats Whole Foods any day.

This weekend, after an hour of shopping and piecing together recipes in my head, I brought home leeks, kale, cauliflower, sage, thyme, lemon basil, rosemary, chives, green beans, parsley, shallots. I used some shallots and parsley to make myself Scallops Provencal (right) for lunch right after I got home. The rest of the shallots will be used for roasting the green beans tomorrow.

I used the leeks for soup: Shrimp Bisque (below) to start and tomorrow, Creamy Artichoke. Perfect for freezing into individual portions and bringing to work for lunch. Some of the other recipes I am thinking about include Lemon Thyme Bars, Rosemary Chicken, Lemon Basil Salmon, Mushroom Sage Polenta, Sage Fontina stuffed Chicken, Oven Roasted Cauliflower and Portuguese Chorizo Kale Soup. Looks like it's going to be a busy weekend of cooking and eating!

1 comment:

  1. Amazing post. Thanks! I was about 8 hours behind you and ended up at the greenmarket around 5pm. Some vendors were closing down, but most were still doing brisk sales. I got some orange cauliflower, which I've never seen before and roasted with truffle oil, beautiful heirloom tomatoes, baby bok choy, which I just made a simple stir fry with, leeks - chicken stock season is upon us -
    the largest radishes I've ever seen, which I'm just crunching on as a snack, fresh cantaloupe and some beautiful gladiolas for the pad. I'm going back next weekend for butternut squash, zucchini and probably more leeks! Luckily, the market is only a few blocks away.