What You Can Get At The Farmer’s Market For Under $25

And what you cook with it

The best produce aisle you’ll ever graze is found outside of the grocery store. You can find it on the street a few days a week under a row of tents stocked with vegetables dusted with country soil. Welcome to the farmer’s market.

Buying produce can be a pain in the wallet. But that’s no excuse to head straight for the frozen section and stock up on pizzas and pre-made fried rice. You can have breakfast, lunch, dinner, and then some for under $25 with one haul at the local market.

For the budget-conscious shopper, the variation of providers means various price points. Our plan of action? Take a lap around to survey what’s available and at what price. Try not to get sucked into tunnel vision when you spot the first cherries of the season. (Though we can’t blame you if you do. The excitement is real, and we might be guilty of knocking over a box or two of kale to beat the crowd for that first pint.)

Once you find the vendor that best fits your wallet, remember that you don’t need to fill your canvas bag with ten pounds of broccoflower even though it’s pretty enough to decorate every corner of counter space with. Small quantities will do just fine here without compromising the lush vibrancy of local vegetables. Shoot for a pound or less so you can have your broccoflower and purple asparagus too.

One trip and you can be toting the best available ingredients in your region back to your kitchen. Whether you’re cornered by mega marts in the suburbs or bordered by bodegas in the city, get a taste of country life. Find your local market here, and read on for our recipes.

Photo by Brittany Bennett

Goat Grilled Cheese with Heirloom Tomato and Pickled Red Onion

No cheese bridges here. Goat cheese doesn’t melt the way a slice of American will (into that glorious gooey mess) but contains its composure (think ricotta on top of lasagna). But with warmed cheese between slabs of fresh bread and the juice of an heirloom tomato freshly plucked from the vine, you won’t be missing that mess.

Ingredients:

2 slices of fresh Tuscan bread

Drizzle of olive oil

¼ cup goat cheese

2 slices of small heirloom tomato

1 ½ tbsp of butter or butter substitute

For pickled red onion:

¼ of a medium red onion, sliced into half-moons

¼ cup red wine vinegar

pinch of salt

Directions:

To pickle red onions, put the slices in a small bowl. Pour in red wine vinegar and add a pinch of salt. Fill with water until red onions are just submerged. Toss and cover in plastic wrap. Let sit for one to two hours, tossing once halfway. 

Drizzle both sides of bread with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Spread goat cheese on each piece. There’s no need for measurement here—slather as much or as little as you want. (We go with about ¼ cup of goat cheese.) After your cheese is smeared on the two slices of bread, add the heirloom tomato and pickled red onions to one slice. Cover with the other half to compose the sandwich.

Heat up a skillet over medium-high heat. Melt the butter in pan. Cook until each side of the sandwich is golden brown and crispy, about 2 to 4 minutes.

Cut in half and enjoy!

Totally optional: Take an extra slice of the tomato and rub the juice over both cooked ends to enjoy a particularly juicy bite.

Photo by Brittany Bennett

Strawberry Goat Cheese Toast with Thyme Balsamic Reduction

Whether for a breakfast or snack, you can throw this toast together in no time. Make the balsamic reduction a day ahead to achieve the whole “no time” thing.

Ingredients:

For the thyme balsamic reduction (yields about ¼ cup):

½ cup balsamic vinegar

2 ½ tbsp honey

3 tsp thyme

For the toast:

1 slice Tuscan white bread

2 tbsp goat cheese

6-8 strawberries, sliced and quartered

Directions:

For the balsamic glaze, bring the balsamic vinegar, honey, and thyme to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and let simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes.

Toast the slice of bread. Spread goat cheese on toast. Add strawberries and drizzle with the balsamic reduction.

Photo by Brittany Bennett

Farmer’s Frittata

Half a dozen large eggs from the market will cost you around $2.50. The farmer will lift his straw hat and smile as he displays the good shape in which the eggs you’re purchasing are in after traveling from Pennsylvania to New York City. You can use the eggs for plenty of meals: scrambled eggs, fried egg on top of fried rice, and in baking. But if you’re throwing a brunch party or just want to make breakfast and lunch for tomorrow, you can use them all at once for a glorified farmer’s frittata.

Ingredients:

6 large eggs

goat cheese

¼ cup crème fraiche or milk (optional)

1 small broccoli, cut into florets

1 ½ tbsp olive oil

½ of red onion, sliced into half-moons

1 small yellow zucchini, halved and sliced

4 asparagus, chopped

salt and pepper

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs with goat cheese, salt, pepper, and your dairy of choice (should you choose!). Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring an inch of water to a boil. Place washed broccoli in a steaming basket or sieve and cover. Steam until just done, about 3 minutes. Take off heat and set aside.

In an oven-safe skillet, preferably a cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Make sure to get the sides of the skillet so that the frittata doesn’t stick. Add the onion, zucchini, asparagus, and broccoli. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until just tender, about 7 minutes. 

Pour in the eggs and let the edges set, about 2 minutes. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until eggs are completely set.

Photo by Brittany Bennett

No Recipe Daisy Leaf Heirloom Tomato Salad

There’s no need for an exact recipe to follow. If you’re going to follow anything, let it be your intuition. Grab the bunch of greens at the market that looks best to you. Even sample a leaf or two (at the farmer’s approval because it’d be easy to turn their tent into a salad bar). There’s a bitterness and subtle spice to daisy leaves. There’s so much flavor, you can find yourself snacking on leaves like chips. If you can’t find a bunch of daisy leaves at your farmer's market, arugula works as well for this recipe.

Ingredients:

For the balsamic honey reduction:

½ cup balsamic vinegar

2 ½ tbsp honey

3 tsp thyme

For salad

Bunch of fresh daisy leaves, washed and dried

Heirloom tomato, sliced and diced

Goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:

For the balsamic glaze, bring the balsamic vinegar, honey, and thyme to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and let simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes.

In a serving bowl, place daisy leaves. Top with tomato, crumbled goat cheese, and balsamic reduction.