So much about food shopping involves the senses. We sniff, eye and taste our way through a vast amount of choices. It’s no different at the farmer’s market, as we meander through displays of unfamiliar foods and head towards the same vendors to select the usual suspects — corn, tomatoes or cucumbers — we know our families will eat. It’s not that we don’t want to try something new, but we seem to be pre-programmed to buy the same old things week after week. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism to prevent an information overload. But I’ll admit (as I also get stuck in a shopping rut) selecting something new and different can be a crazy idea.
Last week when I was talking with Steve Schuckman, the manager of the Montclair Farmer’s Market, he noted the exploding colors, remarking how people used to shopping at chain grocery stores are unaware of the variety of colors some vegetables come in. For crying out loud, how can peppers can be purple?!!!
Cuing into Steve’s observation, here’s an easy way to shake things up this week: shop by color! Take your little ones by the hand, head to the market and look for usual veggies in unusual colors. Instead of a red tomato, try a yellow one; swap the red beets for golden ones; or go real crazy — get purple or orange cauliflower instead of white. Ask the kids to find as many different vegetables as they can in various colors. White eggplant, pale green zucchini, yellow watermelon — you’ll be amazed how many new discoveries you’ll find and how much it will liven up your plates at home.
Select any color beet you’d like and create a fabulous farm fresh soup that even the kids may like. Red beets result in a fabulous fuchsia color. I’ve made soup with red beets on Halloween and served it to guests as “True Blood” soup.
- 2 bunches of beets (about 6 large ones)
- olive oil, butter
- three shallots (roughly chopped)
- the white parts of a leek (cleaned and chopped)
- 2 ½ cups chicken (or veggie) stock
To roast the beets, remove the leaves of three large beets and scrub well. Drizzle olive oil on the beets and wrap in tin foil. Roast for an hour in a 400 degree oven. When finished roasting, allow to cool, remove the skins and cut into cubes. To make the soup, heat a medium sized pot with 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sauté the shallots and leeks for 5-7 minutes. Add the beets and stock. Cook for a few minutes and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Add additional stock if you like a thinner soup. Serve warm (or chilled) with a dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream.