Farmers’ Market Fantasy

farmers market basket

You’ve heard the expression “like a kid in a candy store?” Well that kid was me this past weekend at the Farmers’ Market in Palos Verdes. If it looked tasty, I bought it. No restraint whatsoever. From Japanese eggplant to okra to heirloom tomatoes. And asatsuki, carrots, red serranos, beets, patty pan squash, spinach, garlic, Anaheim chiles, Thai basil, mitsuba…I had no plan, no recipe in mind. I was simply vegetable-crazy.

vegetable stack

8-layer farmers’ market fantasy
curried fresh carrot juice sauce with blanched okra & mitsuba
grilled green & yellow patty pan squash
sautéed spinach with sesame, garlic, soy sauce
crispy polenta cake
fire-roasted anaheim chile
fresh goat cheese & asatsuki
cumin dusted grilled beet
spicy smoky heirloom tomato & thai basil
roasted japanese eggplant, maldon smoked sea salt flakes

carrot sauce
curried fresh carrot juice sauce
champion juicer
trusty vintage champion juicer

To make the sauce: juice fresh organic carrots. Heat 1/2 c. carrot juice and simmer for 5 minutes. When juice comes to room temperature, blend with about 1/3 c. good fruity olive oil, 1/2 t. curry powder, sea salt and fresh ground white pepper. Blanch whole okra spears in boiling water for 3 minutes then shock in an ice bath. Slice okra on a diagonal. Tear mitsuba leaves into thirds. Set aside.

grilled patty pan squash
layer 1 - grilled patty pan squash with garlic, soy & gochugaru

Slice patty pan squash into wheels. Place wheels on grill over high heat and brush with a mixture of 2 T. olive oil, 1 T. low sodium soy sauce, 1/4 t. sea salt, 1 minced garlic clove, and 1 t. gochugaru (Korean red chile flakes). Place one green slice plus one yellow slice in the center of the sauce.

sauteed spinach
layer 2 - sauteed spinach with garlic, soy sauce & sesame seeds

Briefly sauté minced garlic in a small amount of toasted sesame oil. Add a splash of soy sauce and then fresh spinach. Cook until the spinach wilts, sprinkle with sesame seeds.

crispy polenta cake
layer 3 - crispy polenta cake

Cook polenta then spread it out in a baking dish to the thickness of just under an inch. Chill in the refrigerator for two hours. Cut polenta into rounds with a metal ring or cookie cutter. Fry in hot peanut oil until golden and crispy on both sides.

fire-roasted anaheim chiles
layer 4 - fire roasted anaheim chiles

Roast Anaheim chiles until the skin is blackened and blistered. Place chiles in a large bowl and cover with a towel. After 15 minutes peel the skin off the chiles. Remove stems and seeds. Cut into thick strips.

goat cheese, asatsuki, vegetable stack
layer 5 - fresh goat cheese & asatsuki

Spread fresh goat cheese on top of the chile layer. Top with minced asatsuki (Japanese chives).

grilled beets, vegetable stack
layer 6 - cumin dusted grilled beets

Peel and slice beets. Grill until lightly charred. Brush with olive oil and dust with ground cumin and sea salt flakes.

spicy smoky heirloom tomato, vegetable stack
layer 7 - spicy smoky heirloom tomato

Thickly slice heirloom tomatoes, brush with a mixture of 2 T. olive oil, 1 T. low sodium soy sauce, 1/4 t. sea salt, 1 minced garlic clove, and 1 t. gochugaru (Korean red chile flakes). Grill until the tomato is hot and bubbling. Remove skin. Top with chiffonade of Thai basil.

grilled japanese eggplant, vegetable stack
layer 8 - grilled japanese eggplant, smoked sea salt flakes

Slice Japanese eggplant in half lengthwise. Grill over high heat until charred on both sides. Brush with olive oil and season with Maldon smoked sea salt flakes. When cool, peel off the skin and cut into batons. Place eggplant batons on top of the tomato and basil. Finally add okra slices and mitsuba, and a sprinkling of asatsuki to the carrot juice sauce.

vegetable stack
8-layer farmers' market fantasy

With its variety of textures, colors, and fresh-picked flavors this dish was an all-around winner. And I was especially pleased with the bright and lively curried carrot juice sauce with okra and mitsuba. Looking forward to pairing this sauce with pasta or fresh fish, maybe halibut? The 8-layer farmers’ market fantasy used every herb and vegetable purchased at the market except one. It turned out that the Anaheim chiles were much hotter than usual so there was no place for the red serranos…

Natasha, the 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! host the 5 Star Makeover Cooking Group, an outstanding monthly event for “sharing ideas and creating gourmet makeovers of selected classic dishes or flavor combinations.”

“This is an exciting time of the year as the farmers’ markets are open everywhere, offering wonderful summer produce. This month’s theme is Farmers’ Market, and the challenge is to create a gourmet and unique 5-star style dish with seasonal ingredients from your local farmers’ market. All of the ingredients other than basic pantry items must come from the farmers’ market, otherwise you can do anything you like. Have fun and we can’t wait to see your creations!”

A round-up of all the fresh & fabulous Farmers’ Market dishes can be found on Natasha’s blog here.

do not squeeze sign

68 thoughts on “Farmers’ Market Fantasy”

  1. Wow, this is a tower of deliciousness! Layer after layer, I am just dreaming about how good this tastes. Oh, and I can’t get over how large your farmers’ market is. I wish mine was like that!

    1. Hi Marisa – Thank you. The PV farmers’ market is quite nice, but there is a really huge one in Torrance, which I love. If you’re ever in this neck of the woods, it’s worth the drive.

  2. It is definitely a fantasy!!! 8 layers of it. This is beautiful. I love the carrot juice sauce you made using that stunning vintage juicer. Great creation, Lori Lynn!

  3. With such a late summer we are still waiting patiently for most of the vieegies you describe, but our time will come and I will be cursing those zucchini. Your melody of flavour comboinations here is making it harder to wait, but I can always dream:D

  4. That looks seriously amazing. We signed up for a half-share with a local CSA for the first time this year and every Saturday when I see that big red cooler, I can tell you that I understand the term “vegetable crazy”! As I wash all the veggies each week, the explosion of colors and variety spread out on my counter just makes me drool.

    Think I may have to try something like this!

    1. Hi Dee -that’s why I had to arrange them in the pretty basket, just to enjoy looking at them…Please let me know if you make a version of this dish. I’d be really interested to hear what vegetables you use.

  5. I can’t believe how creative the posts have been for this challenge and how reflective of the person’s personality. Yours is a lovely, and instructive post with gorgeous photos and a really spectacular finished product. How you got that many great things into that tower of power is a wonder ( ps curried carrot broth is one of my favorite things!).

  6. I love the before and after shots! Both are stunning. This looks like the ultimate farmers’ market dish to me…it incorporates so many lovely flavors together. I’d love to take a bite getting a bit of each layer…bet it’s amazing!

  7. WOW! It looks fabulous and incorporates so many wonderful foods.
    I am just in awe!
    I can relate to farmers market craziness. I love seeing all of the fresh produce and feel completely compelled to take it all home with me…although my husband usually stops the frenzy.
    I can’t wait to another creation.

  8. I’m in awe of this creation. It’s too pretty to eat! How did you take the first photo — to get the right side to be in focus and left blurry? Is that all aperture?

    1. Hi there PG – it is a special lens called “LensBaby.” The lens actually swivels so you can move the sweetspot in the picture. It also comes with several different aperture disks to choose the size of the sweetspot. It’s fun.
      Thanks for your kind words. Hi to Giz.

  9. Now THAT is one heckuva gorgeous stack. I am so glad you came up with such a great way to use everything – sometimes I get too much at the farmers market and then I’m just like … uh-oh.

  10. Absolutely stunning! That truly is a farmers market fantasy dish! So beautiful…and thanks for showing step-by-step photos!

  11. Hi Lori,

    I can taste that veggie napaleon just looking at the photo. My mouth is salivating… would love to have this as a dish at the supper club sometime!! Yes! Yes!!

    Shelby Harris-Edmisten

    1. Hi Shelby – nice to hear from you.
      OK, for you, at the next supper club, you bet, although I can’t guarantee it will be exactly these same veggies…depends what’s at the farmers’ market that day. 🙂

  12. I would never have dreamed of something so luscious from putting all these vegetables together. It’s a real treat for the eyes and the stomach. You are very creative.

  13. What a spectacular farmers market and dish. When ever we are in LA we always hit as many farmers markets as possible. Ours is on hiatus due to our brutal summers, so we grow as much as possible.
    Veggies, polenta and cheese …mmmmm

  14. Lori Lynn – this dish was so amazing, I’m not a bit surprised it made Food Buzz’s Top 9….congratulations – this was WELL deserved!

  15. Gorgeous and tempting as usual, Lori Lynn! Polenta is a personal favorite, what a beautiful presentation and an appetizing combination of flavors. Didn’t realize you live close to Palos Verdes, I’m also in SoCal. Maybe we can Farmer’s Market together sometime! 🙂

  16. spectacular combination of everything! I love the polenta cake the best—a weakness of mine! I also love the curried carrot juice—i can smell it! and of course the plating is gorg. I have a few new markets to visit in Atlanta and D.C., but for the now, the small one next door to my place will work just fine. Or, a neighbor’s own garden! 😉

  17. Okra and mitsuba – I’ll have to make a trip up to Palos Verdes for the FM! You’ve captured the essence of this challenge beautifully – would love to be a guest at your table and devour each layer of that tower of flavor!

  18. Hey Lori
    This is a stunning dish! A+ for presentation and such an array of flavors. I’m envious of the variety you see at your market. Lucky girl!

  19. I think you outdid yourself. Talk about the delights of the season – here you are with a fantasy come true – it’s just vegetable magic!

  20. Oh, Lori Lynn,
    the closer I scrolled to the finished dish, the closer my eyes inched to the screen!
    What bounty and what tasty transformation it underwent in your hands!
    I am in love with fresh goat cheese. I eat it almost daily (oh well, daily).

    Last Saturday, I avoided going to the farmers market because I knew there was nobody around home this week and I did not want to be stuck with cooking every day. I miss the bounty.

  21. Oh my, this is out of this world, Lori! Each layer has its own flavor and texture and compliment one another. This is simply clever concoction! Your photo really brings out the taste out of a monitor screen.

  22. I am almost certain I would have put the polenta cake at the bottom but you’re totally right in placing it higher up to avoid it getting soggy. Beautiful presentation. I had no idea that was the name for Japanese chives and I love curried carrot in any form.

  23. I would love to serve this as the vegetable course in a tasting menu dinner party. Can you recommend a good wine to pair with it?

    1. Hi Suzanne – I would pair the wine with the sauce since there are so many flavors in this dish. Carrot/curry would go well with Viognier or perhaps Dry Riesling.
      Please let me know how it goes.

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