Smile Politely

Market Watch: May 22, 2010

Looks like a hint of summer coming this way this weekend for week four (already?) of Urbana’s Market at the Square. As of this writing, the forecast is calling for temperatures in the 70s and sunshine for the doings at the corner of Illinois and Vine Streets this Saturday morning.

This week’s theme is MORE. The Market’s vendors will be showcasing MORE strawberries, MORE asparagus, MORE greens, MORE herbs – just more of everything. As a matter of fact, the Market itself will have MORE – as in, more vendors than last week. MW hears this is the first sellout week of the season, the earliest it’s ever happened. The Market’s five rows are going to be full of everything that is local – produce, meat/eggs/cheese, baked goods, plant starts and hanging baskets, art, crafts, and much… MORE. It’s only going to get better from here on out, especially with the healthy start the growing season has had.

Here’s an incomplete list of this week’s available produce: salad mix, head lettuces, arugula, collard greens, radishes, rainbow chard, green onions, kales, spinach, rapini, rhubarb, greenhouse zucchini and cukes, hydroponic tomatoes, and fresh cut herbs. As always, vendors will bring what they have, and MW does not always know ahead of time what they will be bringing. Shop the Market all the way through to make sure you’re seeing everything that’s available – there is produce everywhere in the Market, not just near the entrances.

MW adores pesto made with basil leaves, but it’s going to be awhile before that’s going to happen. May we suggest pesto made with cilantro or arugula instead? Blue Moon Farm will have their first certified organic cilantro of the season at this week’s Market, and pesto made from either of these alternative greens is a revelation. Here’s a recipe that can include both cilantro and arugula!

KOD’s Cilantro Pesto – A Template Meant to Be Tweaked (borrowed from the Washington Post)

1/3 cup walnuts, pecans, almonds or hazelnuts (or pine nuts!)
1-2 cloves garlic, to taste (More than 2 gets a bit intense)
1 large bunch cilantro, roots and larger stems trimmed, washed and thoroughly dried
Squeeze of ½ lime
¼-1/2 cup olive oil
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano (You can omit cheese if it’s not your thing)
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional add-ons: 2 cups arugula leaves; ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

Place nuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add cilantro and lime, and pulverize. If using arugula, add now, and process until you’ve got a coarse-looking puree. Add oil, going gradually; stop machine and taste for herb/oil ratio. Add more if it feels “dry.”

Scrape down sides of bowl as needed, and transfer pesto to a small mixing bowl. Fold in cheese, if using, and season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika, if using.

Makes about 1 cup, maybe more.

The Market continues to tweak its credit/debit/LINK system, which, if you do not already know, is a way for Market shoppers to use credit, debit, and LINK cards at the Market by swiping the cards at the City tent and receiving tokens to shop with any vendor (for LINK users, the tokens are for use to purchase LINK-eligible foods) within the Market. I guess all you Market-goers were so eager to try it last weekend that the Market ran out of credit/debit tokens at 11:30. Market staff has assured MW that this should not happen again, but patience is key as staff gauge how popular the program is going to be. Remember, cash and checks are still most welcome at vendor booths, and some of them take plastic on their own.

Sprouts at the Market holds its first event of the season – a seed-planting workshop with Champaign County Extension’s Master Gardeners and Market vendor Tiny Greens. The event goes continuously from 9-11 AM – the event is free and registration is not required. MW also hears that if a Sprouts participant brings his or her Sprouts Certificate of Participation to Art Mart Toys by 2 PM on 5/22, they are eligible for a 15% discount in the store. If it rains, which is unlikely, Sprouts will default to the June date, which is the 19th. Please call 384-2319 for more information about the workshop or the Sprouts program.

Reminder:, but the Market can be found on Twitter here and on Facebook here. Those people really like their social media over there.

Coming up at the Market:

May 29: Urbana’s Public Arts Program holds their first Art at the Market workshop of 2010! Artist and theme TBA.

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