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June Farmers Market Finds

June 25, 2019

Let me count thee ways to enjoy summer in Milwaukee:  Summerfest, myriad music, ethnic and food festivals; free park concerts; beer gardens, art fairs, Milwaukee County Parks pools, bike trails . . .  okay, I’ve already lost count. And then there’s the neighborhood farmers markets, which have become so much more than a place to support our local farmers and get fresh, health produce, flowers, and artisan foods.

Now well attended social gathering spaces, farmers markets are another place to meet our neighbors, enjoy live music and build communities.

Most area farmers markets are now open and operating in full swing. Although our state has experienced a wet, chilly spring, you can still find locally grown lettuce, spinach, asparagus, and strawberries.

This light summer salad calls for three ingredients now available in late June at area farmers markets: mint, fresh cilantro, and spinach. Despite the long ingredients list, it comes together easily for a healthy, hearty meal. It can be made vegetarian or with beef or chicken stock to please omnivores.

 Warm Lentil & Goat Cheese Salad (adapted from Vegetarian Step-by-Step, Parragon Books)

Serves 4

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

2 t. cumin seeds

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 t. grated fresh ginger

1 ½ cups lentils

3 C. vegetable stock

2 T. fresh mint

2 T. chopped fresh cilantro

2 red onions, thinly sliced

8 ounces fresh spinach, washed and patted dry

1 t. walnut oil (or nut oil of your choice)

2/3 C. soft goat cheese, crumbled

¼ C. plain Greek style yogurt

salt and pepper to taste

lemon wedges

Heat 1 T. of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add cumin seeds, garlic, and ginger and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

Stir in lentils and return to heat. Slowly add the stock until the lentil mixture, stirring continuously, until stock is absorbed. This will take about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in herbs. Set aside.

Heat remaining 1 T. olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add onions. Cook until soft and lightly browned, stirring frequently.

Put spinach in a bowl and toss with walnut oil. Divide spinach among four individual serving plates.

Mash goat cheese with yogurt and season with salt and pepper.

Divide the lentils among the plates. Top with the onions and add a dollop of the goat cheese mixture. Garnish with lemon and serve with bread or crackers.


Local asparagus makes a brief appearance every year, like a celebrity who lies low and does the occasional brief yet spectacular project, gaining praise and fanfare. The harvest window for asparagus in Wisconsin is short, but I’ve lucked out this past week and found it at a couple of markets around Downtown and the South Side of Milwaukee. Arugula, like most leafy greens, is also in season in June, and some farmers grow mushrooms indoors year round and sell them at area farmers markets. Be sure to also check your farmers market for locally sourced honey produced by area beekeepers.

Asparagus & Mushroom Salad(adapted from Everyday Vegetarian Cooking, Hinkler Books)

Serves 4

6 ounces asparagus spears

1 T. stone ground mustard

¼ C. orange juice

2 T. fresh lemon juice

1 T. lime juice

1 T. orange zest

2 t. lemon zest

2 t. lime zest

2 garlic cloves, crushed

¼ c. of honey

pepper, to taste

14 ounces of button mushrooms, halved

6 ounces rocket arugula

1 red pepper, cut into strips

Trim away tough ends from asparagus and cut in half diagonally. Place in a saucepan if boiling water and cook for one minute or until just tender. Drain and plunge into cold water. Set aside.

Blend mustard, juices, zest, garlic and honey in a saucepan. Season generously with pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and add mushrooms. Toss well and let cool.

Remove mushrooms from sauce with a slotted spoon and set aside. Return sauce to heat, bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down to low. Let simmer for about three minutes or until thick and syrupy. Cool slightly.

Oss the mushrooms, red peppers, and asparagus, together and serve over a bed or arugula. Drizzle with the sauce and serve.

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazines.







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