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Magic from the farmers markets

April 25, 2009 |  5:40 pm

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There's no excuse to pass on the to-die-for fresh produce and meats at farmers markets simply because you don’t know what to do with them.

At the Saturday cooking stage demonstration “A Celebration of Farmers’ Market Cooking” at the L.A. Times Book Festival, authors JoAnn Cianciulli (above, left) and Amelia Saltsman displayed the ease and variety of cooking dishes with market produce.

Saltsman demonstrated the simplicity of farmers market cooking with a recipe for green garlic and potato soup from her book, “The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook” (2007). One of the many benefits of shopping at farmers markets, Saltsman said, is access to optimally fresh seasonal produce.

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An example of this was her salad made with red butter lettuce, roasted beets, blood oranges, and Fuerte avocado. Peppercress and a sprinkle of arugula flowers added a sweet and spicy garnish.

“You can get common ingredients -- potatoes, garlic, onions -- whose flavors really sing,” Saltsman said. “And when the flavors are that good, you don’t have to do much.”

Cianciulli, author “L.A. Original Farmers Market Cookbook” (2009), favors the farmers market that started it all on 3rd Street and Fairfax, next to the Grove shopping center.

With a nod to her New York and Italian heritage, she created a dish of sweet and hot Italian sausages, San Marzano tomatoes, bell peppers and fresh basil to top hot pasta or crusty hero rolls.

Both authors highlighted the uniquely personal nature of farmers markets, both in connecting with how one’s food is grown and with the actual people behind the counter.

-- Kelsey Ramos

Photo credits: Kelsey Ramos

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