Sweltering heat from earlier this week is finally replaced by cooler, more seasonably Fall weather. A crisp breeze and bright sun set against deep blue skies and dashes of color in the trees confirm the season’s arrival at last.
Apples and pears now dominate the farmers market but dinner can still be close at hand. This Apple and Pear Salad with an Apple Cider Vinaigrette can go straight from market to plate using all the different ingredients you can find at a farmers market.
When I graze through a farmers market, I most often go without a list. Rather than a perfunctory duty, I view weekly farmers market shopping as more of a treasure hunt. I am interested in stocking up on what looks fresh, not what will work with a particular recipe. I’ve found that the easiest and tastiest dishes result from this strategy. I’ve made the mistake of buying what I think I need, rather than what looks fresh, and the results can be disappointing. More effort is usually required to manipulate less-than-fresh ingredients into something agreeable.
This week at the farmers market, the remaining summer tomatoes are pushed aside into small bins and their long tables are now occupied by bags of fresh and colorful apples, pears, and cider. While I did grab some late-market tomatoes and peppers, as well as some beautiful baby turnips, it was the orchard that spoke to us that day so we weighed ourselves down with it all and headed home.
When I decided to dedicate myself to eating seasonally, I quickly realized that savory meals do not only sprout from vegetables, nor does fruit only connote dessert. I’ve learned that fruit is an amazing asset for dinner prepared using the same methods I use to prepare my favorite vegetables.
Last week, we cubed the turnips, apples and pears and roasted in a 400-degree oven until lightly browned. Piled on top of market greens, the result was a tender and surprisingly not-too-sweet side dish, which paired beautifully with a a slice of roast pork.
Since it has been so terribly warm this week, roasting didn’t seem right for dinner. So, the remaining apples and pears were cut into matchsticks then tossed with a bunch of fresh market greens that are still in abundance thanks to the warm weather.
While fruit and vegetables are obviously the highlight of the market, a farmers market also is often the best source for responsibly raised (and amazing tasting) bacon, pork, chicken and beef. Many local markets also feature a terrific selection of cheese made from local milk sources.
A dressing is easily made in the same pan as the bacon with a splash of apple cider, apple cider vinegar and whole grain mustard. I like it poured still slightly warm over the cold greens and fruit then topped with crumbled gorgonzola and walnuts.
Eating seasonally means making the most of what is available each week at the farmers market. This Apple and Pear Salad with an Apple Cider Vinaigrette is not only an easy farm-to-table dish, but also a lovely seasonal welcome to autumn.
- 3 medium apples (and or pears or a combination), cut into matchsticks
- 7-8 oz mixed greens (baby spinach and/or arugula work well)
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- 4 strips bacon
- ¼ cup apple cider
- 1 Tablespoon whole grain mustard
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup Gorgonzola or blue cheese, crumbled
- ¾ cup walnut pieces
- Place the greens into a large bowl and set aside.
- Fry bacon in a large fry pan until browned.
- When bacon is cooked, set aside onto a paper towel to drain. Remove pan from heat for a few minutes to cool.
- Place the pan with its bacon grease over medium heat and add shallots.
- Toss shallots in the pan until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add cider, mustard and vinegar to the pan and increase heat to medium high. Boil until reduced and thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside to cool for a minute.
- Meanwhile, toss greens with matchsticks. Add dressing and toss to combine.
- Place greens and apples onto plates and top with cheese and walnuts.