Farmers Market Challenge: The Best Laid Plans

Week Five of our challenge.

Going into market day, I try to plan as much as possible. I research the website, price out as much as I can, and plan our meals and shopping list accordingly. We only have $40 to spend, I want to make sure we’re spending it wisely, getting everything we need, and hopefully a couple extras on the list, too.

Sometimes, however, plans just don’t go according to plan. Because the products at the farmers’ market are so reliant on weather and crops, you’re not guaranteed the same stuff week in and week out. What you loved last week may not be there the next week. Something new may be stacking those tables instead – throwing your plan completely off kilter. And that’s the adventure of it.

For us, purslane was the culprit this week.

It wasn’t on my list, and before last Thursday, it wasn’t even in my vocabulary. But when I was under the Zaklan Heritage Farm tent picking up my 2 for $5 greens, and saw those pretty leaves of purslane, I asked owner Gemma McNeil for details.

It’s a fast-growing succulent that’s super high in Omega-3 fatty acids and contains vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. It’s grown all over the world, and adds a lemony flavour to your salads.

She had me at Omega-3.

Purslane.
Purslane.

You know how sometimes when you discover something you’ve never heard of before, suddenly you’re hearing about it everywhere? This weekend my son and I went into the valley for a family birthday party. I packed along a lunch salad, and when my mom saw the purslane atop all the greens, she told me the old farm garden was full of it.

She had never tasted it until she took a bite of my salad. She liked it!

A few hours later we were in Chilliwack, and my great nephew’s grandma was giving me a bag full of freshly picked zucchini, cucumber, carrots, and pears (I don’t turn my nose up at free food). She told me she’d normally have beans ready to go too, but they got sacrificed in her effort to blow out the “annoying” purslane.

Yes, folks, although super healthy, and, in my opinion, super tasty, many farmers look at it more as a weed than a crop. Lucky for us, though, a few vendors at Royal City Farmers’ Market treat it as the latter.

Yet another market-great discovery.

This week’s loot:

  • 4 red peppers: $5.90
  • 1 zucchini: $1
  • 1 lb. green beans: $3
  • 1 bag each of kale and pizzo mustard greens: 2 for $5
  • 1 head red-leaf lettuce: $3
  • 1 oz. basil: $1
  • 1 bunch purslane: $2
  • 1 bunch cilantro: $2
  • 2 cucumbers: $2.40
  • 1 bunch Italian onions: $2.70
  • 3 corn on the cobs: $3
  • 1 handful each of mint and rosemary: free
  • 1 bag tortilla chips: $3
  • 1 container pico de gallo: $5
This week’s greens: pizzo, purslane, kale, and red-leaf lettuce.
This week’s greens: pizzo, purslane, kale, and red-leaf lettuce.

Every week we try to incorporate at least one full market meal into our meal plan. This week, we did stuffed Mexican peppers – no meat – with a side of fresh tortilla chips and pico de gallo (made that morning!!!), and a mix of market greens. It was a bit out of our comfort zone, as we are very much meat eaters in this house. I had been wanting to try to make stuffed peppers for quite sometime, but all the recipes I saw were filled with ground beef, and while we are meat eaters, we’re not so much beef eaters. So when I saw a recipe with quinoa and black beans, and saw that we could incorporate several ingredients from the market, and we had all others on hand, I thought it was perfect.

Red peppers: Greendale Herb and Vine; Stuffing: Roasted corn: Country Village Market; Italian onion stems: Yarrow EcoVillage; Cilantro: Zaklan Heritage Farm. Tortilla chips and pico de gallo: Muy Rico. Mixed greens: Zaklan Heritage Farm
Red peppers: Greendale Herb and Vine; Stuffing: Roasted corn: Country Village Market; Italian onion stems: Yarrow EcoVillage; Cilantro: Zaklan Heritage Farm. Tortilla chips and pico de gallo: Muy Rico. Mixed greens: Zaklan Heritage Farm

The recipe can be found here.

We altered the recipe a bit. Instead of baking the peppers in the oven, we grilled them on the barbecue. We also grilled the corn, something my husband, the chef of the house, had been wanting to experiment with for quite some time. Both added a really nice, smoky flavour to the meal. And instead of the nutritional yeast, we opted for shaved parmesan. We made 4 peppers, and had leftover filling for two lunch salads.

Not only smoky, the sweetness really came through on the grilled corn too.
Not only smoky, the sweetness really came through on the grilled corn too.

In total, we spent $39, which means we’ve got an extra dollar to spend next week.

Happy shopping!

Katie Bartel

Katie is a former journalist and student, and is a type 1 insulin-dependent diabetic into running 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, and marathons. She blogs about her experiences at Princess of Pavement.

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2 comments

  1. I grilled corn on the BBQ for the first time this year – and I’m now no longer satisfied with boiling it on the stove.

    The first couple of times I grilled it, it was SO delicious I was convinced it was some special super-sweet corn. Then one miserable rainy evening we opted to stay indoors and just boil it… nope… it’s the same boring plain old corn. The grill definitely makes a world of difference!

    Love the photo too – personally I’ve been stripping off the husks, wiping it down with olive oil & grilling for about 15mins, rotating it every 3 until it’s starting to blacken in spots. But now I’m keen to try grilling it with the husks on.

    Like you, I hadn’t heard of purslane – I’ll be on lookout for it this afternoon.

    1. I agree Jon; I couldn’t believe how sweet it was!!! We stripped out the silk, and then soaked it for about 10 minutes in cold water first, then threw it on the barbecue for about 8 minutes. Good luck! And yes, try that purslane!!!!

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