Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Farmers' Market Love Affair Continues

I've talked about how farmers' markets are to me what shoes are to Carrie Bradshaw: it's fundamentally an intense love affair and a scary proposition all at the same time.

I've taken the love a step further; my friend Katie introduced Greg and me to Newleaf Grocery in Rogers Park, and it is now officially all over. Newleaf delivers weekly, organic produce boxes that include almost entirely local produce with some an additional surprises thrown in. For example, I was thrilled to see mangoes this week; I popped it in the blender with the raw ice cream recipe, and a wonderful concoction was born - and devoured. Even better - Newleaf delivers year round, which means my madness can continue well into the winter months. Oh happy day!

Of course, adding Newleaf into my farmers' market mix means that I am really setting myself up for produce overpurchasing. Don't get me wrong; the boxes from Newleaf are plentiful and a great deal, especially considering the contents. Unfortunately, because I have no willpower when it comes to fruits and veggies, each time I walk past any kind of farmers' stand (which are all over Chicago now), I end up taking something home.

I've talked before about herding those veggies together and making soup, but sometimes I want to change it up a bit. Greg loves stir fries; I think they're fine, but I don't necessarily seek them out. Thank you Shape magazine for featuring a recipe for Indian Vegetarian Curried Fried Rice. It gave me the best idea for putting together a base recipe to help me clean out some vegetables - and some grains, too! Yes, sometimes I have a variety of leftover grains lurking around my house, from rice to quinoa to millet, and this stir fry is a great way to make those disappear as well. Depending on the grain you pick, you can also make this dish gluten free as well.

Finally, if all of my talking about farmers' markets leaves you wanting more local fresh produce, but you don't know where to turn, check out Local Harvest. It's a tremendous resource for finding anything you could possibly want, from stands to CSAs.

Clean Out the Pantry Stir Fry (adapted from Shape magazine)
Yields: 4 servings

Grain of your choice (be creative, or just clean out what you have! Our favorite is quinoa)
Vegetable oil (use something with a higher burn temperature, like vegetable, canola, or grapeseed) or spray
Onion, diced, if you're using it
1 tsp. powdered ginger (or 1 Tbsp. minced fresh, if you have it)
1 1/2 -3 cups vegetables (favorites include garlic, green beans, carrots, celery, peppers, corn, broccoli, but seriously anything would work)
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1 -2 c. beans (take your pick; I usually use ones I'm cleaning out of the fridge. I've used chickpeas, black beans, red beans, and pinto beans)
1 - 1 1/2 c. tomatoes, if you're using them (fresh, sliced, or canned; even crushed works)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
A couple cracks of black pepper

1) Prepare grain according to package directions. When you are within 10 minutes of finishing the grain, start the stir fry in a separate pan or wok.
2) Heat oil or spray in pan; add onion, if using it, and ginger. Stir fry for about 30 seconds; add your vegetable mix. Stir fry for about 2-3 minutes, until vegetables are crisp tender but cooked.
3) Add in curry powder; cook with other ingredients for about 10 seconds.
4) Add beans and tomatoes; cook for 2-3 minutes, or until all liquid is reduced (whichever happens second).
5) Mix in soy sauce and pepper; cook for one minute.
6) Serve over grain.

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