Smile Politely

Market Watch: Autumn and Mushrooms

Not much has changed at the Market lately — great food, great weather and great people. The options are endless, and as Michelle Ryan from Mix 94.5 has discovered it is quite easy to enjoy a week’s worth of wonderful, healthy meals from shopping almost exclusively at the market. Michelle is taking the locavore challenge and has been eating locally and seasonally for almost the entire month of September.

After reading about her market experience on her blog, The Farmer and Michelle, I was surprised to discover how many locals just don’t realize how much is actually available at the market. I know for many folks, getting up in time to get to the market is a challenge in itself, but right now it is well worth the effort. The seasons are overlapping and both late summer and early fall vegetables are abundant including peaches, plums, basil, corn, beans, melons, tomatoes, peppers, squash, beets, greens, lettuces, sprouts, pumpkins, apples, cauliflower, cabbage, potatoes and mushrooms. I am so excited to see more mushrooms at the Market, as they just seem to complete the whole picture. Both Tomahnous Farm in aisle two and Jeff Meyer in aisle one had mushrooms this past Saturday and I’m hoping for many more in the months to come.

For an easy vegetarian meal featuring mushrooms try:

Creamy Polenta with Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

For polenta:

5 cups water
1 cup coarse stone-ground polenta, Moore Family Farm
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For mushrooms:

1 lb assorted fresh local mushrooms
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For serving:

1/2 cup fresh goat cheese
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Make polenta: Bring water to a simmer in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan. Add polenta in a slow stream, whisking until incorporated. Simmer, stirring occasionally with a long-handled whisk or wooden spoon, until liquid is absorbed and polenta is thick and soft, about 30-45 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cream, cheese, salt, and pepper. Keep warm, covered.

Saute mushrooms while polenta simmers: Heat oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute cleaned and trimmed mushrooms, garlic, salt, and pepper, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden and any liquid they give off is evaporated, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add water, butter, lemon juice, and parsley and heat, swirling skillet, until butter melts and liquid forms a sauce.

To serve: Top each serving of polenta with mushrooms and goat cheese. Serve immediately (polenta stiffens as it cools), sprinkled with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

The Market on the Square runs every Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon, rain or shine now through November 8th. It is located in the parking lot of Urbana Square Mall on the corners of Vine and Illinois Streets.

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