Square Roots

The Dane County Farmers' Market stands as a connection between Madison and the farms that surround it.

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Farmers Market Breakfast Salad

Salad ingredients:
8 slices bacon
2 tbsp oil
10 stalks asparagus
8 mushrooms, sliced
8 cups fresh mixed greens
4 eggs
About 4 oz grated hard cheese, such as Parmesan (try Sartori’s Espresso BellaVitano for a real breakfast treat)

Dressing ingredients:
2 tbsp bacon drippings
1 large shallot, thinly chopped
2 tbsp oil (try Driftless Organics sunflower oil)
2 tbsp champagne vinegar
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp sugar
Pinch salt

Directions:

Place bacon on cookie sheet and put in oven preheated to 400 degrees. Cook bacon until crispy, about 10–14 minutes. Remove and drain on towel. Reserve about 2 tbsp bacon drippings. Chop bacon into small pieces and set aside.

To make dressing, heat reserved bacon drippings in small skillet. Add shallot and cook briefly until soft about 1–2 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and place in bowl, along with the oil from the skillet. Add sunflower oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar and salt and stir. Set aside.

Meanwhile sauté asparagus and mushroom slices with a pinch of salt over medium heat until just softened.

Evenly divide greens between plates and top with sauteed veggies and bacon bits.

Heat a skillet with oil/more drippings to fry the eggs,
ideally leaving yolks a bit runny. Top each salad with an egg, some grated parmesan and dressing.

Enjoy with bread fresh from the market!

Serves 4.

Breakfast Salad recipe courtesy of Otehlia Cassidy. Find more recipes on her blog here or her Dining In column here.

Thinking Inside the Box

Tips for Choosing a CSA

If you don’t have time to shop the farmers’ market, consider buying a CSA (community supported agriculture) share. Fifty Madison-area farms, many of them Dane County Farmers’ Market vendors, participate in the subscription program, where customers pre-pay for boxes of seasonal produce. Kiera Mulvey, executive director of the non-profit FairShare CSA Coalition, shares tips for getting the most out of CSA and selecting one that’s right for you.

Be flexible: Part of the beauty of CSA is the element of surprise—you never know how much cauliflower (or cabbage or celeriac) lurks in your box. But to some people, “that’s horrifying,” Mulvey says. “If you don’t like to cook, or you’re not interested in experimenting, you’re probably going to be overwhelmed.”

Start small: Many farms offer half shares, which are more manageable for small households or those new to CSA.

Think about extras: Many farms offer tours, dinners, kids’ outings and other events for CSA members. “If these are important to you, you probably don’t want a farm that’s three hours away,” Mulvey says.
Save money: Several Madison-area health plans offer rebates for CSA members. Contact your insurance company to find out if you’re eligible for a discount.

Consider the pickup location: Some farms have several pickup locations; in other cases, customers pick up CSA boxes on the farm.
Attend FairShare’s CSA open house: Held every March at the Monona Terrace, the event is a great way to meet growers, ask questions and learn more about specific farms.

Attend FairShare’s CSA open house: Held every March at the Monona Terrace, the event is a great way to mee-t growers, ask questions and learn more about specific farms.

 

Hungry for More?

Learn more about the market—or what to do with its bounty—through these fantastic resources

The Dane County Farmers’ Market: A Personal History by Mary and Quentin Carpenter. The authors, both former market managers, recount the market’s history from 1972 to 2000.

The Farm Fresh Atlas, an online list of farms, businesses, restaurants and markets in southern Wisconsin that sell products directly to customers. Find it on REAP’s website, reapfoodgroup.org.

From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Farm-Fresh, Seasonal Produce, produced by the FairShare CSA Coaltion (formerly the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition). This A-to-Z cookbook is great for making the most of market ingredients.

The Wisconsin Local Foods Journal by Joan Peterson and Terese Allen. It’s an annual guide with a seasonal produce calendar, recipes, storage tips and interviews with market vendors. Learn more at wisconsinlocalfoodsjournal.com.

Fresh Market Wisconsin: Recipes, Resources and Stories Celebrating Wisconsin Farm Markets and Roadside Stands by Terese Allen. Allen, a Madison cookbook author, food columnist and former chef, has shopped at the market since its inception and is a longtime board member of REAP Food Group.

 

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