Wednesday, May 19

30 Days to a Food Revolution with Lemony Pasta with Fresh Peas, Ricotta, and Mint

Are you a part of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution? You know, the revolution to transform America's eating habits by ditching unhealthy processed foods and replacing them with healthy whole foods? If not, keep reading. Then, join the revolution!

I'm happy to be a part of "30 Days to a Food Revolution," a food event hosted by Diane Eblin of the blog, The W.H.O.L.E. Gang. Inspired by Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution in America, Diane has gathered 30 bloggers to share their tips for healthier eating and living. Be sure to visit her blog to read more guest posts, gather delicious recipes, and get great tips.

Here's my tip: Make the most out of your farmers' market trips.

When people ask why my husband and I live in San Diego instead of moving back to Rhode Island, I usually say, “the farmers’ markets.” I’m joking. Sort of. Really, how many other places have over 40 farmers’ markets that are open year-round? We’re lucky, and we know it.

Fortunately, farmers’ markets are located across the country. So no matter where you live, here are nine ways to make the most out of your trips to the farmers’ market.

fresh English peas from Hillcrest farmers' market in San Diego
English Peas from the Hillcrest Farmers' Market in San Diego.

1. Be prepared. Before you leave the house, make sure you have some sturdy, eco-friendly reusable bags and plenty of small bills (ones and fives) and quarters. Consider bringing an insulated bag for items such as farm fresh eggs or cheese.

2. Be patient. Resist the urge to purchase the first plump tomato or crisp red bell pepper you see. Always stroll through the entire market once to assess the produce and prices.

3. Engage in farm talk. Unlike a trip to the grocery store, you have the unique opportunity to ask the farmers all types of questions, so don’t be shy. They’re usually excited to talk about their work (provided there isn’t a line of 10 people waiting to pay). If the farmer’s produce isn’t “certified organic,” be sure to ask about his or her farming practices. Many small farmers practice organic farming but can’t afford to have the “certified organic” designation.

4. Plan ahead. Find out how long the season will last for different crops, especially maddeningly short seasonal crops such as fava beans, English peas, or cherries. That way you won’t miss out on your favorites (which has happened to me) and perhaps preserve them for the off-season.

5. Be adventurous. Try something new or strange. If it weren’t for farmers’ market samples, I would never have discovered some of my favorite fruits, including cherimoyas, kumquats, and jujubes.

6. Save money the right way. If you’re looking to save money, then buy in bulk. Most farmers are more than happy to sell you a bushel of peppers or a half a dozen flats of strawberries at a discounted price. It’s considered impolite, however, to ask for a discount on single items or small purchases. Keep in mind that farmers usually set fair prices from the outset; paying full price supports them and the local economy. Another way to save money is to shop just before closing time when farmers often discount their goods to sell before hitting the road.

7. Spread the wealth. We are creatures of habits, so many of us tend to buy from the same vendors each week. Try someone new next time you’re at the market. You might discover a new vegetable, a new recipe, or a new friend.

8. Create good karma. Compliment farmers on their produce. Give them feedback about the quality of their goods as well. Tell them about a recipe you made featuring their goods. If something was disappointing, then let them know in a polite manner. Exchange recipes with them. Or surprise them with a dish made from their goods.

9. Promote your market. Tell your friends, family, and local schools about the farmers’ markets. Host a dinner featuring only locally produced foods, and tell your guests about the farmers who provided it. Blog and tweet about your farmers’ markets. Mention them on Facebook, and post pictures on Flickr. Do anything you can to spread the word.

Lemony Pasta with Fresh Peas, Ricotta, and Mint

Lemony Pasta with Fresh Peas, Ricotta, and Mint
Makes 2 servings
Print recipe only here.

6 ounces pasta shells
4 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
The zest and juice of 1/2 medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon juice)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh shelled English peas
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint
2 tablespoons freshly grated Reggiano-Parmigiano cheese
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Lemon zest curls, optional garnish

1. Cook the pasta in salted water according to direction, until al dente. Reserve a cup of hot pasta water.

2. In a small bowl, stir ricotta cheese, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper. Thin it with a little bit of hot pasta water. Stir until creamy but not watery.

3. Drain cooked pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Add peas and ricotta mixture and toss well. Stir in mint and grated cheese. Drizzle each serving with extra virgin olive oil and garnish with lemon zest curls, if desired.

Variation: For a meat version, add 2-3 ounces crispy prosciutto or pancetta. If you're gluten-intolerant, then substitute gluten-free pasta.


Ciao Chow Linda said...

Wow, 30 farmer's markets! What a great resources - and a delicious pasta dish.

Mardi Michels said...

Jealous of your 30 Farmers Markets! I love this dish too - it was the first dish my (9 year-old) boys' cooking club made this term as we work our way through Jamie's Food Revolution Cookbook!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

You will find me at our local farmers market every Saturday morning. Still trying to get the farm,ers interested in bringing in zucchini flowers:D To have 30 markets withing driving distance and year round would be a drema Susan.

Michelle (What's Cooking) said...

Our Thursday morning Farmer's Market is my happy place! There is nothing like developing a personal connection with the people who feed my family - and greeting them week after week. Your recipe looks delish, by the way!

Rambling Tart said...

Excellent post, Susan! So many good tips and ideas. I love my Farmer's Markets and hope to go again this Saturday. :-)

The French said...

Wow! That looks amazing. Will def make that.

Oh and I won't live anywhere that I can't get good avocado year round. So for me, it's Cali baby:)

Thanks for the great tips:)

Nupur said...

Great post, Susan! The Farmers' Markets in St. Louis have just opened and I am excited to see what I find this year.

Joanne said...

I love this post! I absolutely live for my Saturdays at the Farmer's Market here.

This pasta looks delicious...the perfect use of seasonal veggies. Topped with ricotta. So good.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

linda-I'm so fortunate! Thanks!

mardi-I did a dish that Jamie did? I'm feeling pretty good about myself right now. :)

cal-I wish you could come to mine. We always have zucchini flowers.

rambling tart-Hope you enjoy it!

thefrench-Spoken just like a Cali girl. ;)

nupur-Yay! I'm happy to hear it. Enjoy!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

joanne-We must have been leaving comments at exactly the same time! Thanks for your thoughts, and have fun shopping!

lisa is cooking said...

Great tips! I'd love to visit some California markets some day. And, your pasta looks fresh and delicious with a great mix of flavors.

Stacy (Little Blue Hen) said...

Great tips! Do you normally go to the Little Italy Mercato, or what are your favorite markets here?

Girl Foodie said...

I completely agree, farmers markets are fantastic! I feel a bigger thrill when I'm on my way to one of my local ones than I did on Christmas morning as a child. I think that your tips for a successful trip are brill, especially the "be patient" one. I have to restrain myself from going from stall to stall, loading up befre I've even made it half-way around!

Another fab post!

The Food Hunter said...

Great fresh pasta dish. You are lucky to have so many good farmers markets in your area.

Anonymous said...

These are great tips. We don't have quite so many markets but a pretty big one twice a week where I live in Austria and maybe I'll improve my German with these ;P

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Susan - what a great set of tips for successful farmers market visits! I'm printing this out and sticking it in my wallet. I thought I was a good patron of the farmers market, but there's several I can work on.

Justin said...

i have such a thing for lemony pasta dishes

Mardi Michels said...

Susan - sorry ! That looked SO much like a dish I made with the boys a number of weeks ago from Jamie's book - I think it was the pea factor! - then I read your comment and had to go back and check (it's been a busy term!!!) and of course its not the same - but yours is now bookmarked for use soon - what a wonderful spring/ summer dish. His is a mini shell pasta with peas, bacon and mint - so VERY similar!

G@CurdsandWine said...

I can't wait to make this, I have my own farmer's market in my yard :D I have a lemon tree (actually "fruit salad" tree, it has 2 oranges and a lime branch grafted on) and my pea plants are going nuts. Plus, I have fresh ricotta from making cheddar this week! Thanks for the fresh & tasty recipe!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Great tips for shopping at the farmers markets, even back here in Rhode Island!

Lynda said...

We truly are lucky with the farmers markets in California. It's part of my shopping ritual, and each Sunday it's a family outing. Great tips, thank you.

Johanna GGG said...

Jamie would have an easy job if all americans ate like you!

love your recipe but am curious that they are called English peas - is this a type of peas as I assume they don't come all the way from England - never seen them labelled this way - they are always just green peas in our house!

Tasty Eats At Home said...

Yummy yummy! Also, congrats on your article in Cooking Light! Woohoo!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

lisa-Let me know if you're ever here. I'll be happy to take you around.

stacy-I love the Little Italy one on Sat. I also love the La Jolla and Hillcrest ones on Sunday. I don't go often enough, but the Wed night Ocean Beach one is a blast!

girlfoodie-Better than Santa's presents? Whoa! That is cool. For the record, I have trouble with the "be patient" one too. ;)

foodhunter-I know. I really am.

sasasunnaku-That's a fun way to learn a language!

TW-That makes me so happy to hear!

justin-Me too!

mardi-No worries at all. We all do that sometimes. Plus any comparison to Jamie is a compliment. :)

gisela-"Fruit salad tree?" I love that! How fun. :)

lydia-They should be up and running soon I hope!

lynda-I love when I see families shopping together. It's a great way to spend quality time together and teach the little ones about good food and nutrition.

johanna-No, they're grown here, and some areas refer to them as "green peas." But I grew up calling them "English peas," and that's what they're called in CA too. :)

tastyeatsathome-Thank you, my dear! :)

Kelli said...

I really enjoyed this post.

Karen said...

Great tips, Susan! Our FM doesn't open until the middle of July through September. It's small, but I was really impressed with the variety and quality of fruits and veggies that people bring in. Of course, the lady who sells homemade donuts is always there, too :)

Cara said...

I talk all the time about moving from New England just to have farmers markets!

Here's a question for you - I have never worked with fresh peas but I always thought they would need to be cooked - it looks like you are using them fresh in this recipe, is that right? (probably a stupid question since I eat plenty of fresh sugar snap peas and snow peas, so I'm not sure why English peas would be any different, but please amuse me!)

Window On The Prairie said...

What a wonderful springtime dish. Last night I made homemade egg noodles. They would probably be good in this recipe.

marla {family fresh cooking} said...

Your lemony ricotta pasta looks so tasty. Thanks for sharing the wonderful farmer's market tips. The Food bet I signed that petition a few months ago! xo

Sophie said...

I also lovemaking pasta dishes like these. It is al abouth good ingredients that are in season! I so love sheep's ricotta, which is low fat. Which ricotta did you use??

I love these tasty flavours all lovely combined h in here! You cook & bake a lot like me!

Manggy said...

Good on you for joining the revolution! :) When I was in NJ, there was a "farmer's market" (that's what the giant sign outside said) but it was really just a... market. :(

Marye said...

this looks fresh and fantastic! Featuring it on the round up today.

Meal Delivery said...

I have recently turned to the dark side(became vegetarian) and for the first time, I REALLY appreciate fresh food markets!

chris said... all these tips. And, with all the Farmer's Markets, I would have to find a way to make it my FT job...because I would frequent them always. ;) Love English peas, especially with mint. I made a side dish some time back with the two, plus prosciutto. ;) We served our trout at the restaurant with peas and pork belly. Yum!

Susan from Food Blogga said...


karen-That's a long wait. Homemade donuts. That made me chuckle.

cara-It's not dumb. You can eat them raw or cooked. I used raw on top so they would look prettier in the picture. :)

windowontheprairie-Ooh, homemade egg noodes are so delicious.

marla-I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks!

sophie-I used cow's milk ricotta. I'll have to look for the sheep's milk though now that you mentioned it. Thanks!

mark-Those tricksters....;)

marye-Thank you! I'll come check it out. :)

mealdelivery-I was on the dark side for nearly 20 years, and I have to admit that I'm really enjoying eating meat again. Best of luck with the transition!

chris-Yes, I adore prosciutto with peas. And your trout dish sounds fabulous. I rarely make that, but I should.