Make Time to Cook this Spring & Summer

Julia Weichselbaum March 19, 2024

Denver, with its vibrant food scene and commitment to sustainable living, is a haven for food enthusiasts who cherish the joy of cooking with fresh, local ingredients. The city's numerous  farmer's markets are treasure troves of the freshest produce, local honey, artisanal baked goods, and much more, each offering a unique glimpse into Colorado's bountiful harvest. (The markets in both Highlands Ranch and Southwest Plaza begin in April, so you can start shopping locally soon!)

Denver's Farmer's Markets

As you wander through any of Denver's farmer's markets, you're greeted with a kaleidoscope of colors, scents, and flavors. The stalls are brimming with the freshest vegetables and fruits, each season bringing its own specialties. From crisp greens in the spring to juicy peaches in the summer, and hearty squash come fall, the produce is a testament to the care and passion of local farmers.

But it's not just about the produce. Imagine drizzling local honey over a warm slice of artisanal bread, or incorporating fresh herbs into your cooking, elevating the flavors to new heights. These markets are a food lover's dream, providing the perfect ingredients for a farm-to-table experience right in your kitchen. Plus, local honey can help with seasonal allergies! Who knew? 

Cooking with Farmer's Market Finds

Now, armed with bags full of fresh ingredients, how do we turn these into delicious meals? This is where the fun really begins. Cooking with farmer's market finds encourages creativity and experimentation. Whether you're a seasoned chef or a kitchen novice, there's something incredibly satisfying about transforming simple ingredients into mouthwatering dishes.

To help you on this culinary journey, consider adding a few vegetable-focused cookbooks to your collection. Not only do these books offer invaluable tips and recipes for making the most of your farmer's market haul, but they also add warmth and personality to your kitchen. I love to read cookbooks like novels. They are packed with valuable information and will make you a much better home chef than finding recipes on the interent. A few recommendations include:

  • "Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables" by Joshua McFadden: This book is a favorite for its innovative approach to cooking with vegetables, organized by their seasons. It is also a James Beard Award winner- don't miss this one! 
  • "Plenty" by Yotam Ottolenghi: A must-have for those looking to explore vibrant, flavor-packed vegetarian dishes. This will push your boundaries and ideas about how delicious vegetables can be. I have almost every one of his cookbooks on my shelf. Beautiful and so informative. 
  • "Vegetable Literacy" by Deborah Madison: Madison offers a comprehensive guide to vegetables, with recipes that celebrate their diversity and flavor. Just the cover alone is too beautiful to pass up. 
  • "The Vegetable Butcher" by Cara Mangini: Perfect for those looking to sharpen their knife skills and learn more about preparing vegetables, this book is a step by step guide to creating beautiful meals out of vegetables from the market. 

These cookbooks not only serve as guides to cooking with vegetables but also act as decorative elements that make your kitchen more inviting. A beautifully photographed cookbook opened to a colorful recipe can inspire your next meal and bring a cozy, lived-in feel to your kitchen space. Add a pretty dutch oven on the stove and you're all set with simple, usable accessories. 

The Fun and Fulfillment of Cooking with Local Ingredients

Cooking with ingredients from Denver's farmer's markets is more than just a culinary activity; it's an experience that connects you with the local community and the seasons. There is something there for everyone! Each visit to the market offers something new to discover, and each meal you prepare is a celebration of local farming and craftsmanship. 

So, embrace the fun and creativity of cooking with farmer's market finds. Let these local ingredients inspire your meals, fill your kitchen with the warmth of cookbooks that champion vegetables, and enjoy the satisfaction of supporting your local farmers. You don't have to be a great chef for these local ingredients to shine. Happy, happy cooking!

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