While the weather may not be cooperating, Chicagoans are ready for summer! We are pushing through the cold and rain to attend baseball games, concerts, festivals and farmer’s markets. Considering the brief window of time we have for local, fresh food to harvest – we certainly do get an abundance during these short, 3 months or so, and it seems everyone takes advantage.
I kicked off “fresh food season” at The Green City Market, Chicago’s largest (and my favorite) farmer’s market. While they do operate throughout the “off season” and in multiple locations, I countdown the days until they open up their expanded version in Lincoln Park.
Green City Market
With vendors specializing in everything from meat and dairy to baked goods and of course, the farm produce itself, you can really make a whole morning of it. This most recent time I started with the Zeppole (Italian Doughnuts) from Zullos and ended my day with a melty, gooey grilled cheese from Gayle’s Best Ever Grilled Cheese Stand. I was tempted to eat everything else in between, not to mention actually buy some of the fruit, vegetables and locally farmed goods I had originally went there for but practiced a rare instance of self-control and vowed to come back again soon to continue my indulgences.
Full of newfound farmers market inspiration, I decided to research CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) options so that on weekends when I couldn’t make it to the farmer’s market, I could still have fresh produce. After a quick Google search, it quickly became apparent that Angelic Organics was a reliable favorite. Because they offered half shares, with a bi-weekly delivery option (vs. every week as many of them are) and they will deliver directly to my apartment door (vs. a central pick-up location, again like many require), I eagerly signed-up. My first box arrived this week and not knowing exactly what to expect, I have been more than pleased!
Kale & Bok Choy from CSA
It felt a bit like Christmas morning, actually. As I pulled each item out of the box, I found another, equally as beautiful item underneath; green head lettuce, arugula, pea shoots, kale, bok choi, purple scallions and radishes.
Scallions, Radishes & Lettuce from CSA
Each piece of produce was lovely - vibrant in color and quite aromatic. Not only was I pleasantly surprised by the variety of offering but also the plentiful portions. All week I have been delighting in coming up with recipes for these ingredients that I don’t necessarily use very often.
Herbs I’ve planted in my own garden to keep up with this fresh, healthy lifestyle.
Angelic Organic farms has a website to provide recipe ideas, as well as a newsletter and bulletin sharing what’s going on at the farms. As someone who is by no means strictly organic or vegetarian (I actually have been known to eat bacon at every meal), I cannot believe how much joy I’ve derived out of this one box thus far. I’m finding myself getting excited over vegetable-centric dishes, not needing as much meat to satiate me since the veggies are packing so much flavor.
Grilling the bok choy and portabella mushrooms marinated in an Asian vinaigrette.
If you’ve considered going to one of the many famer’s markets that this city offers and/or participating in a CSA but don’t know what to do with all those veggies – The Chopping Block offers several cooking classes that can help! While “What Grows Together, Goes Together” is veggie-focused, the summer iteration does incorporate fish since it compliments some of the dishes so well. There are also our “Farm to Table” and “Italian Garden” classes that will expand your vegetable-recipe library for sure – please feel free to share what you’ve come up with!