Making shortcuts in the kitchen does not need to feel like an unhealthy way to cook, especially when it’s this hot outside! {Who wants to spend time cooking over a steaming stove when it’s sweltering out?} This week I have been looking for the easiest way to keep people happy and healthfully fed without over heating myself in a kitchen that — by the way — does not have air conditioning.

I am really loving the idea of re-purposing dinners into lunches or visa versa. It goes a little something like this: One quick prep, save the ingredients and then combine them a little differently for the next meal. I find that a farmers market is the perfect place to find inspiration for the the ultimate menu upcycle. Seasonal cooking forces you to think about combining different foods you wouldn’t normally use, and omitting ingredients if they’re not available.

Here are 5 easy ways to make the most of your farmer’s market haul:

  • Take one vegetable and make it your main ingredient. Decide what way you’re going to cook it and then try combining it later with a veggie that works really well raw.
  • Incorporate an easy grain like farro, brown rice or a simple pasta. If you want to go grain-free that is easy too! Maybe your veggie pairs really well with that can of black beans or cannellini beans in your pantry.
  • Add and play with flavors without worrying about having a focus ingredient.
  • Think more about texture and less about what vegetables actually “go” with each other.
  • Keep a good stock of pantry ingredients! (My most favorite tip!) Take time to enhance flavors by adding simple tweaks like different oils (walnut, pumpkin seed, olive). Try sea salt, capers, or lemon, add chicken broth instead of water and always have a fresh chopped herb.

Farmer's Market Menu Makeover - (cool) progeny

Here’s an example of these tips in practice. My recent Baltimore JFX Farmer’s Market haul included: green beans, diva cucumbers, yellow zucchini (so buttery!!), tomatoes, blueberries, baby beets, and farm feta cheese.

Our family’s market menu for the week looked a little like this:

Sautéed buttery zucchini with garlic and cannellini beans (reserved some and puréed for my 11 month old daughter!). Added salt, torn basil, and served it over pasta for dinner.

Combined the same sauteed zucchini the next night with baked tofu over brown rice. Added easy sautéed kale for the adults.

Ate it cold smeared on crusty Atwaters bread   with sliced tomatoes, basil, and feta for quick lunch.

An another night, as a side with our go-to easy cumin yogurt grilled chicken, I quickly blanched the green beans tossed them in olive oil and lemon. Crumbled fresh feta on top. Everyone devoured it and asked for more.

The next day for lunch, I added those same green beans to a chopped cucumber salad, added the market tomatoes and a random leftover avocado for a perfectly healthy and super quick lunch.

Farmer's Market Menu Makeover - (cool) progeny

This week I am going to play around with blueberry mint salsa as a side to some grilled protein and something involving a raw shredded beet salad with walnut oil and fresh lemon.

Stay tuned…