I love a good farmers market. There are a lot of great ones in the Springs but if you’re looking for a fun little “adventure” you should check out the one in Denver at the historic Union Station. This particular market is open on Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm and runs till October 22nd.
When my husband and I go, we take a cooler filled with ice to keep the produce cool, and shop for some of the most beautiful fruits and veggies I’ve ever seen. Then we stow the cooler in the car and spend a couple of hours exploring the area. Just checking out the beautiful interior of Union Station and all the shops and boutiques located inside is fun in itself.
Just take a look at some of what they have to offer…
I always buy fresh beets with the greens still attached, which can be sautéed in a bit of olive oil and butter, just like any greens. Very nutritious, tasty, and kind of a “freebie.”
Lots of varieties of peppers.
When we shop at farmers markets, I like to find unusual items I can’t typically find at the grocery store. These are lemon cucumbers, which I had never seen or even heard of.
They don’t taste like lemons but get their name because of their resemblance to lemons. They are tender, sweet, and have no bitterness. They kind of remind me of English cucumbers in the texture. You don’t have to peel them but I did because the skin has little thorny things that don’t wash off that easily.
I toasted white and black sesame seeds, added a bit of sea salt, and dipped the cucumber slices in it. Delicious and different!
If we saw something we weren’t familiar with, we bought it…like these red chives.
If you like heirloom tomatoes, you would love all the varieties offered. These are my favorite tomatoes to use in a caprese salad, which we make with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic oil. You can really taste the difference when the produce is fresh picked.
Our most unusual looking purchase on this particular visit was Dragon Tongue beans. We bought them because of their color. These actually taste pretty much like regular green beans and you can cook them as you would green beans. The first time I made these, I boiled them for about 5 minutes in salted water and then added them to a pan of sautéed onions and mushrooms. Very tasty. They do lose their color as they cook. These particular beans were pretty mature so the shell was a bit tough so I shelled the rest of the bag and used the raw seeds in salads, or just tossed them in my mouth.
The selections will change as the season changes which means you never know what you might find from week to week. Some of the produce costs a bit more than the grocery stores while some items we purchased were less expensive. But oh my gosh, the difference in taste is incredible when something has been freshly picked. We personally love Swiss chard and the bunch I bought on this trip was seriously, the most delicious I’ve ever cooked.
The red chives and leeks we bought were something I wanted to grill. We added them to rice noodles and grilled shrimp and look how great it looks! And it was delicious. Love how additions or garnishes can really make a dish look even better.
To grill chives, I washed and patted them dry. A brush of olive oil with some Kosher salt was all we added. Grill until they start to char a bit.
I will caution, it’s easy to go crazy and buy too much when shopping at a farmers market. As you shop, think about how soon you’ll use it or even freeze it so it doesn’t go to waste. I cooked beets, carrots, peppers, and Swiss chard in one day and munched on all of it during the week for lunch and snacks.
A farmers market day can be fun for the whole family, especially when you let the kids pick out some healthy goodies. My husband and I actually make at least one Saturday a month a farmers market “date” day that progresses into an evening of grilled vegetables and a glass of wine on the deck.
The Union Station farmers market also offers quality meats, cheeses, breads, and all types of jams and honey. Everything is locally grown and features 23 Colorado growers and 17 local food producers. There’s even a weekly chef demo program from 10 to 11 each Saturday.
…One of our favorite places to grab some lunch is at the Mercantile, which is located inside Union Station. We typically pick up cheeses, meats and some of the decadent desserts also to take home.
And even if you don’t live in the Denver area, most cities have their own local farmers markets so why not check them out, get a bit creative with your veggies, support your local farmers, and get outside and enjoy the rest of the summer.