• Recipes from the 2016 Blue Tent Collection, Part 1

    At the time of this writing, there are two chef demos left in the 2016 market season. Pretty much every other week, we’ve had a dozen of Evanston’s best chefs visit and wow a couple of hundred hungry visitors with their delicious fare, much of it composed of products you can get right at the market. In this article, and a follow up in November, we’d like to share the recipes that those generous chefs shared with us. Here we go!


    Roasted beets with buratta  and pesto oil

    Roasted Beets (any type is ok)

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C)

    1. Toss 2-3 lb of beets, in olive oil, and thyme or rosemary in a bowl until beets are coated, and arrange pieces of beet on baking sheet so that they don’t touch.
    2. Roast in the preheated oven until the beets are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
    3. Let beets cool down then peel the skin off ( you might want to wear plastic gloves so not to stain hands )
    4. Slice or chop and chill

    Pesto Oil

    1. Take one 4oz jar of pesto or you can make your own, and mix with 1 cup of a very good quality olive oil .


    Roasted Beets and Pesto Oil from above.

    Store bought (hopefully local) 16 oz of Burrata

    1. Place 1/2 cup or couple of slices of beets in a bowl, desired quantity of Buratta cheese on top of the beets drizzle with pesto oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, then serve.


    New York strip steak and arugula salad


    • One ten ounce thick cut strip steak from Heartland meats
    • 4 ounces of Marigold farms arugula lettuce
    • 1/2 ounce wedge of Elko farms white cheddar cheese per person
    • 1/4 cup Old Town Oil Tap Peach balsamic dressing
    • 1/3 cup Old Town Oil Tap lemon olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon dijion mustard
    • 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
    • Salt
    • Pepper


    Liberally salt and pepper each side of steak before grilling.

    Grill strip steak over high heat for five minutes each side, rotating 90 degrees to get even sear on both sides. Let rest on cutting board for five minutes after removing from grill.

    Combine Peach balsamic with dijon mustard with whisk in non reactive bowl, then slowly drizzle olive oil, while whisking vigorously until dressing becomes slightly thick. Add brown sugar, and pinch of salt and pepper, whisk until combined, then toss lightly with lettuce.

    Slice steak cross wise into 1/4 inch strips. Add cheese wedge and four slices of steak to salad.

    Serves four


    Heirloom Tomato Panzanella


    • 1 each Shallot -minced
    • 2 cup Stale Ciabatta – cut into bite sizes pieces
    • 1 cup Cherry tomato (about 12) -cut into quarters
    • 1 each Medium heirloom tomato-medium dice
    • 2 cloves Garlic-minced
    • ¼ cup Red wine vinegar
    • 3 tablespoon Olive Oil
    • 8 leaves Opal basil -torn into bite size pieces


    1. Mix all ingredients together and season with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
    2. Let sit for at least an hour before serving.


    Fresh Tomato Sauce


    • 8–10 pounds of fresh, ripe tomatoes (mixture of Early Girl and Roma)
    • 2 white onions
    • 6 cloves garlic
    • 2 fresh bay leaves
    • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • ½ cup fresh basil (optional)
    • salt and pepper to taste


    1. Prepare the tomatoes: Score the skin with a sharp knife. Drop in boiling
      water for one minute or until the skin starts to lift from the flesh. Transfer
      to a bowl of ice to cool. Peel, seed, and roughly chop the tomatoes.
    2. Mince the onions and the garlic. In a large saucepan, cook onions, garlic,
      bay leaves, and crushed red pepper in olive oil until onions are translucent.
      (About 5–10 minutes.)
    3. Add the tomatoes to the onion and garlic mixture. Cook uncovered until
      this forms a thick sauce. (About 20–30 minutes.) Add salt and pepper
      to taste.
    4. Remove the pan from heat and remove the bay leaves from the pan.
      If adding basil, now is the best time to do so.

    A Simple, Steamed/Blanched Green & Yellow Bean Salad with a miso / honey /pickled mustard seed dressing


    • 1 pound Green and/or Yellow Beans, tips removed
    • 4 or so radishes, very thinly sliced (w/ a mandolin, if you can)

    Miso dressing

    • 1 cup Saikyo miso paste
    • ½  cup mirin
    • ½ cup rice vinegar
    • ¼ cup water
    • 2 tbs honey
    • 3 purple shiso leaves
    • 1 tsp grated ginger

    Pickled mustard seeds

    • 1 cup yellow mustard seeds
    • ¾ cup rice vinegar
    • ¼ cup mirin
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • ¼ cup water.


    Blanch the beans, shock in cold water, set aside

    Miso dressing

    Fine chop shiso, add remaining ingredients and mix together.  Adjust seasonings and thickness to personal taste.  (sweeter, thinner)

    Pickled mustard seeds

    Put all ingredients in a non aluminum pan, simmer for 5 minutes, take off heat and let cool.  Stored in the fridge, they are good for a long time.

    Assemble the dish

    Plate green beans, drizzle with miso dressing.  top with radishes and some micro greens, spread pickled mustard seeds around. Finished

    You can add other vegetables like cherry tomato, asparagus, etc.

    For a more substantial dish, add a Japanese onsen style egg .


    Starting with an Washington Post op-ed piece in November of 2014, 4 writers, journalists, and scientists began to frame an argument, that began by asserting that, “…we have no food policy – no plan or agreed-upon principles – for managing American agriculture or the food system as a whole.”

    The authors are Mark Bittman, Food Writer and a Fellow at Union of Concerned Scientists; Michael Pollan,journalist and food activist; Ricardo Salvador, an expert in sustainable agriculture practices, is a senior scientist and director of the UCS Food & Environment Program; and Olivier De Schutter, a Belgian legal scholar specialising in economic and social rights, served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food from 2008 to 2014. The op-ed piece, “How a national food policy could save millions of American lives,” can be read here. A key observation made early in the piece:

    “…When hundreds of thousands of annual deaths are preventable – as the deaths from the chronic diseases linked to the modern American way of eating surely are – preventing those needless deaths is a national priority.”

    That was back in 2014. In October of 2015, the authors expanded their argument for a National Food Policy in an article published on Medium, entitled “Why We Need a National Food Policy.” Your can read that article here. Although this writing is more than a few months old, the issues are more relevant than ever.

    With fewer than fifty days until the presidential election, Friends of Evanston Farmers Markets thinks that it is important to consider anew the issues that were birthed back in the 1970s, when

    under President Nixon, there were fundamental changes in agricultural policies. To produce cheap food, the industrialization of food with its accompanying subsidies became a reality leading to a dependence on fossil fuels and monoculture farming. This significant change moved us from supporting small, environmentally friendly farms. As explained by these forward thinking authors, the change has resulted in a heavy price to our health and that of the environment.

    The underlying goals that Messrs. Bittmann, et al articulate are anything but controversial:

    • All Americans have access to healthful food;
    • Farm policies are designed to support our public health and environmental objectives;
    • Our food supply is free of toxic bacteria, chemicals, and drugs;
    • Production and marketing of our food are done transparently;
    • The food industry pays a fair wage to those it employs;
    • Food marketing sets children up for healthful lives by instilling in them a habit of eating real food;
    • Animals are treated with compassion and attention to their well-being;
    • The food system’s carbon footprint is reduced, and the amount of carbon sequestered on farmland is increased;
    • The food system is sufficiently resilient to withstand the effects of climate change.

    These goals may be benign and seemingly obvious, But the country is no closer to them than when they were first proposed two years ago.

    Bittmann, Pollan, Salvador, and De Schutter next penned “A National Food Policy for the 21st Century,” essentially a memo to the next president.

    Their thesis is that our new president has an opportunity to greatly affect the wellbeing of our environment and the health of the nation by revisiting the underpinnings of our food system. They clearly explain that even suggesting that we currently have a coordinated food system is wishful thinking. Read that capstone to their effort by clicking here.

    In an election year where the only thing we’ve heard about food is that one of the candidates prefers McDonalds (and other fast food), it seems important that the public continue pushing for a coordinated policy. On their own, politicians have done little to undo the harm of our current piecemeal food policy landscape.

  • Evanston needs your help to plan the Farmers Market of the future

    In forty-one years, the Downtown Evanston Farmer’s Market has changed in many ways. Location, of course. And size–in the past several years, the market has grown by nearly a third!

    The most notable change has been the variety off offerings at the market, growing from exclusively produce and flowers to today’s mix of farmers, ranchers, artisans, and vendors of prepared food meant to be eaten right at the market.

    There are many opinions about the market’s evolution, and the City of Evanston needs your help to determine if the market has changed in the right ways, and how it should continue to change. Their goal is to offer the best value, both for the families who visit the market AND the vendors who come from all around the midwest to offer their goods for sale.

    Please follow this link and spend a few minutes filling out a survey that will provide insight about the feelings of the Market’s most loyal customers. Again, click here to take this important survey.


  • Reducing food waste means enjoying your market bounty even more!

    Our Friends president and chief experimental cook had an epiphany the other day, and she shared it with us.

    Irresistible piles of asparagus at the market made me remember cold winter days when I could dip into the asparagus stash in the freezer and make our favorite soup -A Simple Asparagus Soup (101 Cookbooks). (Editor’s note: You can enjoy her favorite soup too! Click here for the recipe.) With asparagus blanched, we plugged in the Food Saver machine to discover it had no life. A little Google time and we uncovered this neat trick to remove air from bags.

    I’ll share that video in a moment, but the notion of properly storing “excess” food to give you more time to consume it sort of veered our discussion into a truly significant food issue: food waste.

    But first, the video:

    Having recently thrown out some soup bones and other bits for stock-making that were heavily freezer-burned when life got too hectic, you can bet I’m going to use this tip for better storage!

    Proper freezer storage is the least of my problems, though, and maybe yours as well. As a seller at the market, I often witness cases of market “lust,” where the urge to pick up some of every tantalizing product leaves the shopper with more product than they can hope to use in a week.

    Even without the seductive allure of market goodies, we Americans tend to waste a lot of food. We visited http://www.worldfooddayusa.org/food_waste_the_facts and discovered:

    • In the USA, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions
    • In the USA, 30-40% of the food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month

    There are some worldwide statistics that are equally disheartening, but let’s stick close to home. Friends wants to do its share by digging up more facts, finding useful websites and providing strategies and recipes to help us all reduce the amount of food we waste. That’s a task that’ll take more than one post to cover properly, but by the time we’re done, we should all be putting more of our market purchases into our stomachs and less into landfills.

    Since we started this post talking about proper storage techniques, let’s move on in that vein. We found the website of a Minnesota non-profit, Eureka Recycling, that is bursting with information. Click right here to visit a pages devoted to proper storage techniques.

    green_onionsThey’ve got a ton of ’em, sorted by product. To tantalize you, I thought that this green onion suggestion would be perfect, as everybody’s got alliums at the market already. They have a few tips for green onions, but this one is not so obvious, but useful for a lot of products that tend to spoil quickly:

    Store in the fridge wrapped in a damp towel or upright in a glass of water just to cover the white parts.

    So in essence, treat your scallions like a living plant and they’ll stay better, longer!

    Here’s another great idea we found in several places:make a “use it up” spot in your refrigerator. Those almost-wilting greens, that last bit of cheese…it can be easier to use them up if they are more visible! Create a reminder box to collect the things that need eating up soon, so you and others in your household know what to reach for to make a meal or find a snack.

    This space will become your source for making fantastic rice bowls, omelettes and perhaps even a “Use-it-up” egg salad. Vikki tried it out, and cleaned out some market eggs, radishes, asparagus and herbs. It came out pretty delicious, she said. Here it is:egg saladRWe’ll keep hunting for the best advice on combating the scourge of food waste and we hope it’ll lead to less waste of food AND money for anyone willing to make the effort.



  • Truck-to-Table Harvest Celebration Returns to the Market on Sept. 24

    Great chefs elevate the quality of whatever product they use to produce their menus, but when the produce and meats are impeccably fresh and grown by caring, committed farmers, the results can be extraordinary.

    Friends held its recent Fête at Found and, indeed, the guests were delighted by the delicious creativity on display. And now we all have another opportunity to experience the creations of Evanston’s top chefs matched with marvelous market vendors. It’s the TRUCK-TO-TABLE event held by the city.

    Tickets are pretty reasonable. You can purchase them at the market, or you can obtain tickets by clicking here. One great thing about this very kid-friendly event is that kids age 9 and younger receive 3 free tickets with a paying adult!

    Here’s the latest list of participants, followed by the city’s description of the event:

    Farm Restaurant
    Aqua Terra Farmhouse
    Chef Eric Mansavage
    1st Orchard Tomato Fresh Kitchen
    Chef Tania Merlos-Ruiz
    Gast Farm Boltwood
    Chef Brian Huston
    Green Acres Farm The Stained Glass
    Chef Khammay
    Owner Kevin O’Malley
    Henry’s Farm Cooked
    K&K Farm Gotta B Crepes
    Ryan & Kathia Jones
    Kinnikinnick Farm Campagnola/Union Pizzeria
    Chef Vince DiBattista
    Lake Breeze Organics Bistro Bordeaux / Crepe St. Germaine Cafe
    Executive Chef: Gene Merriman
    Owner: Pascal Berthoumieux
    M&D Farms Hearth
    Chef Woody (John) Linton
    Nichols Farm Chef’s Station
    Chef Elio Romero
    Seedling Orchard Hoosier Mama Pie Company
    Chef Paula Haney


    Evanston Harvest Celebration 2016

    Join market customers and community members for the annual Evanston Harvest Celebration  which gets cooking once more AT THE MARKET on Saturday, September 24th.

    The Market presents another truck-to-table lunch to tantalize your taste buds and celebrate the bounty of Fall: an expanded roster of top local chefs will partner with prominent Midwest sustainable growers to deliver a truly unique culinary event. Chefs join producers in their tents presenting dishes featuring local products.

    Join us for this fantastic Evanston celebration! Do your shopping, then enjoy a one-of-a-kind lunch – all to benefit the continued success of Evanston’s great Farmers Market!

    For the 2nd year, this family event will be held right at the Downtown Evanston Farmers Market, 1800 Maple Avenue, on Saturday, September 24, 11:00-1:00 pm.

    Here’s What Your Participation Supports

    The Evanston Harvest Celebration benefits both the Downtown Evanston Farmers Market and Friends of Evanston Farmers Markets, a non-profit organization that educates the public about the benefits of eating fresh, locally grown foods, advocating greater access to healthy food for all community members, regardless of means.

    Funds raised at the event will be used to continue Friends’ support educational projects, the Friends’ LINK matching program, (which enables families who otherwise couldn’t afford the market to buy fresh produce, eggs and cheese), and The Spud Club, an in-market kid’s educational program.

    The market’s neighbor, the Hilton Garden Inn, is supporting our celebration with much-needed supplies for the many chefs’ tables. Our thanks to them!

    Thank you for your support, and we look forward to seeing you!