Farmer Market Treasures

Photography by Cathy Nelson Arkle

Today’s classroom was taken to the streets of Santa Monica, CA for the Wednesday Farmers Market.  We are on a treasure hunt for the freshest seasonal and locally grown fruits and veggies to prepare in class today. Wait until you see what we cooked with our Farmers Market treasures!

photography by cathy nelson arkle
This market is not only the largest, but also a favorite of food enthusiasts and local chefs alike.  Farmers show off their local produce and other seasonal favorites while shoppers enjoy the colorful atmosphere.

Photography by Cathy Nelson ArklePhotography by Cathy Nelson Arkle
Our market tour guide is Reisha Fryzer from Farmbox LA. She explains how Farmers Market products are ultra-fresh, and superior in taste. Reisha holds a pimento pepper in her hand as an example of the many different varieties available to the consumer.

Photography By Cathy Nelson ArklePhotography By Cathy Nelson Arkle
At the Farmers Market in California, all produce is grown only in this state.

Photography By Cathy Nelson ArklePhotography By Cathy Nelson Arkle
By shopping at Farmers’ Markets, you are supporting family-operated small farms.

Photography By Cathy Nelson ArklePhotography By Cathy Nelson Arkle
A local shopper models her proud pick of the day… Brussels sprouts with the greens attached. For the less ambitious, baskets are available.

Photography By Cathy Nelson ArklePhotography By Cathy Nelson Arkle
If you don’t know what something is, or how to use it, just ask. Farmers Markets are a wealth of information. You can ask where it was grown, what variety it is, if the product was sprayed, as well as cooking suggestions.

Photography by Cathy Nelson Arkle
An easy way to be healthy is to eat a spectrum of colorful fresh vegetables and fruits. They are full of great nutrients, including antioxidants and phytonutrients.

photography by Cathy Nelson ArklePhotography by Cathy Nelson Arkle
From persimmons to peppers, you can find great produce in season at your local Farmers Markets.

Photography by Cathy Nelson Arkle

After an hour tour of the market, we returned to the classroom to prepare our Farmers Market treasures. Chef Carol arranged different groupings of food, and then our assignment was to make a dish with no recipe.  I was so excited to work with the ugliest squash I have ever seen.

This heavily-warted “rock” that only a farmer could love, turned out to be beautiful inside with a nutty taste.  If you would like to grow your own funky heirloom squash check out the fun varieties at

Farro was to be the base of this side dish. Farro is an ancient wheat that was among the first plants to be domesticated in the Middle East. It is low in calories, high in both protein and fiber, easy to cook, healthy, and delicious.

photography by Cathy Nelson Arkle Photography by cathy nelson arkle
I slice the Kobacha very thinly and roasted it. The farro and leeks were cooked separately, then assembled for the final presentation.

Photography by Cathy Nelson Arkle

Some of the other creations from our farmer’s market treasures.

Cathy Nelson Arkle photographyPhotography by Cathy Nelson ArkleHaricot Verts with Tomatoes / Heirloom Chicken with Cavolo Nero (kale) and Roasted Potatoes

Cathy Nelson Arkle photographyCathy Nelson Arkle photographyBrussels Sprouts, Carrots, and Heirloom Cauliflower roasted with fresh herb vinaigrette.

cathy Nelson Arkle photographyCathy Nelson Arkle photographyRaw Persimmon, Apple, Fennel, and Beet Salad /  Kale, Date and Pear Salad 

Cathy Nelson Arkle photography Cathy Nelson Arkle PhotographyFresh Cheese & Strawberries with a Port Reduction Sauce / Pistachio Cake with Fresh Berries / Pumpkin Spice Cake

Photography by Cathy Nelson ArkleChef Carol Cotner Thompson put together this beautiful Roasted Pears with St. Agur Cheese smothered in Local Honey

When cooking your Farmers Market treasures, keep preparations simple and as close to the way you bought it. Let its natural flavor be the feature.  To find a local market in the U.S. near you check out


Today’s Recipe

You might not be able to find or grow this particular Heirloom Kobocha, but this recipe works with any squash. Look for a strange one you haven’t tried before. If you don’t have leeks, use onions. If you can’t find farro, use rice, quinoa or spelt berries. Insert whatever treasure you can find for this recipe, as it is very versatile.

Farro & Leek Confit with Heirloom Kabocha
Recipe type: side dish or vegetarian main
  • 4 cups water
  • 10 ounces farro (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh thyme or parsley
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Leek Confit
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 4 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices (about 5 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Oven Roasted Heirloom Kabocha
  • 1 medium kabocha squash or acorn squash
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Farro directions
  1. Combine the farro and water in a medium saucepan. Add salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the farro is tender, about 30-40 minutes. Drain well, and then transfer to a large bowl to cool.
  2. Add the thyme to the farro, and toss to combine.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, pepper, and olive oil. Salt to taste. Add the vinaigrette to the farro and toss to coat.
  4. The salad can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Leek Confit directions
  1. In a large pot over a medium low flame melt the butter. When butter is melted add the leeks and stir coating leeks with the butter.
  2. Add water and salt, stir to combine. Place lid on pot and reduce flame to low. Cook, stirring often, for approximately 25 minutes or until leeks are tender.
  3. Take lid off the pot and cook approximately 2 to 3 minutes or until remaining liquid is evaporated.
  4. Serve warm.
Oven Roasted Heirloom Kabocha directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut up one kabocha squash into thin slices. Lay the pieces in one layer on a pan. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until all sides of the squash are covered with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss, and then roast for about 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned.
To assemble:
  1. Put farro on a platter. Top with Leek Confit and then add Kabocha on top. Serve at room temperature.
Serves 6-8

Quote of the Week

“Let food be thy medicine, and let thy medicine be food.” – Hippocrates

When you shop at your local Farmer’s Market, you will be well on your way to investing in your healthy future.
…and then she paused for thought.

Rona Lewis and Cathy ArkleHope you have enjoyed our adventure in the culinary classroom. Join us each week as we continue learning new culinary skills. Next week is Menu Development.

You can also read about Rona’s experience on her blog or What’s Cookin online magazine.




18 thoughts on “Farmer Market Treasures

    1. cathyarkle Post author

      Thanks Kristi! I wish everyone could experience the beauty and the treasure of Farmer’s Market. Growing up on a farm in Iowa makes me appreciate local Farmer’s Markets in CA all the more. The food tastes so much better. If you want to be a better cook, use better ingredients!

    1. cathyarkle Post author

      Thanks Cheri! We have been taught to eat the rainbow, but I don’t always see that at the grocery store. When you are at a Farmer’s Market, color is everywhere, beckoning you to partake!

  1. Leslie Macchiarella

    oooh nice! What a wonderful stroll! And I’m fascinated with the ancient wheat. I think I’m going to have to look into this farro thing. 🙂 Leave it to you to create something amazing for the taste buds and the eyes!

    1. cathyarkle Post author

      Thanks Leslie. Farrow is very interesting and has a nutty, crunchy texture. i think it works well with any other flavor. Think of it as a base for exploration. Enjoy!

  2. Cathy B.

    Wow Cathy.beautiful pictures and then beautiful food!!! Wish we had some big Farmers Markets here like those you are able to visit. Lucky Duck! All Beautiful Cathy……….

  3. Natalie @ The Devil Wears Parsley

    Farro has got to be one of my favorite grains! Such a beautiful bite and chewiness… so satisfying too! I’ve always wanted to go to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market; I hear that it’s fabulous. You pictures definitely prove that!! Well done Cathy!! 😀


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