It’s Sunday morning in Bergen County and the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the breeze is blowing. What a beautiful day for a visit to the Ramsey Farmers’ Market, now in its 2nd year. One of the things I like most about the Ramsey Farmers Market is the live music. Each week they have music by different local bands. On the day I was there, 15 year old, Matt Roy, was playing his guitar and singing. I stopped and listened while he sang a couple of good Springsteen songs, then started on my quest to find the best fruits and veggies to make dinner for my family, especially my vegan daughter who was coming home from a music festival weekend.
My first stop was at JD Gourmet Balsamic where I picked up another bottle of his 25 year aged balsamic that is naturally sweet, fragrant and incredible. It enhances any recipe and goes particularly well with the golden beet salad I had in mind. JD also sells olive oils, truffle oil and flavored balsamics.
Next on my list was a big beautiful bunch of sunflowers for my table from the fresh flower vendor and then straight to Bloominghill Farm to buy his just picked organic veggies and blueberries. Guy (the proprietor) was as pleasant as ever as he instructed everyone on what to do with zucchini flowers and the variety of greens he was selling. “Just put these on the grill” he explained while a customer listened carefully. On this day he had organic baby portabella and shitake mushrooms, along with many leafy greens and lots of beautiful fresh veggies and berries.
Last but not least I stopped at the regular farm with beautiful conventional not organic veggies and fruits and found my favorite lavender seedless eggplants, just picked, along with corn, yellow and red tomatoes, herbs and more.
There is something for everyone at the Ramsey Farmer’s Market, even homemade dog biscuits for your furry family members. The mozzarella man is always there with his beautiful homemade breads, cakes, and other goodies, along with crab cakes and other surprises. People are usually lined up, it’s just that good. There was a woman selling goat cheese in many varieties, a jelly man, another homemade baked goods vendor, a man selling organic eggs and more. Check the Ramsey Farmers Market website for more details. There will be guest chefs doing demos throughout the summer. I did one July 4th weekend and hope to be featured there again in the near future.
Ramsey Farmers Market is a great addition to our neighborhood. I am looking forward to creating some beautiful meals out of what I got today straight from the farm to my table like the Eggplant dish below. Enjoy.
Grilled Sicilian Eggplant with Tomatoes Basil and Organic Baby Bellas, Balsamic Vinaigrette
This recipe feeds 4 people
Two medium Lavender Sicilian eggplants if possible-slice about 1/4 inch thick (Can use regular eggplants too.)
The best Tomatoes in a variety of colors cut up (Plum and cherry). Take about five or more plum tomatoes, split them and remove seeds. Roughly chop up in a bowl with split cherry tomatoes.
Fresh Basil-a small bunch..cleaned and chopped
Fresh Oregano, Thyme approx 1 teaspoon each
One package Baby Bella Mushrooms-cleaned gently and sliced
Sea salt, black pepper
Aged Balsamic Vinegar– 1-2 tablespoons (I love the JD brand they sell at Ramsey Farmers Market..a little goes a long way, and it’s not too strong.)
Extra virgin olive oil– about 1/2 cup for brushing on eggplant for grill.
Fresh garlic-chop up 2 cloves, crush and chop
Preheat grill to medium high. Brush the eggplant with a mixture of olive oil and herbs (thyme and oregano) on both sides. Brush with more olive oil when you turn over.
Grill carefully a few minutes on each side approx 3-4 till you see grill marks, then turn over, and let cook till tender.
Chop and seed tomatoes, put in a bowl with crushed fresh garlic, sea salt and black pepper, a drizzle of balsamic and EVOO. Add lots of chopped basil. Stir together.
Take off eggplant and lay out on a platter.
In a grill top wok (brush with olive oil or spray), add sliced Baby Bella mushrooms (I used the organic ones from Blooming Hill Farm). First marinate the mushrooms in a mixture of thyme (a teaspoon or so) , EVOO, and 1 TBS Balsamic. Cook on medium, stirring once or twice a few minutes till done.
Pour tomato mixture over the grilled eggplant and add mushrooms and more chopped herbs. Fresh basil to taste.
Add another drizzle of that great Balsamic Vinegar.
LauriLee has been passionate about food her whole life. She spent many years in the travel business and always enjoyed dining out at many ethnic restaurants here and abroad. She is a self motivated foodie who has been cooking for over 30 years. Her recipes are based on fruits, vegetables, herbs, vinegars, various healthy oils, citrus , seafood and organic chicken and turkey. LauriLee also cooks for her daughter who is a Vegan, so we can look forward to some healthy vegan/vegetarian dishes from her kitchen. To learn more about LauriLee’s cooking classes and personal chef service, visit her website at LauriLeesHealthyCooking.net