If you are like at least one vegan, you think that the best part of any traditional holiday meal is the array of delicious sides. In keeping with that thought, the fruits and vegetables on the big plate of sides in the accompanying photo came from the Overland Park Farmers Market here in northeastern Kansas. The huge heirloom yellow tomato, the watermelon, the cucumber, the green beans, and even the sprig of mint came from five of the more than 70 vendors.
The green beans are simply steamed for a few minutes in a couple of tablespoons of water before adding slivered almonds and vegan margarine. The tomato is simply sliced with fresh ground black pepper. The watermelon and cucumber salad with fresh mint and sea salt came from a recipe on myfooddiary.com, which also explained that it is a great salad in the summertime because it helps you stay hydrated.
To balance out this delightful vegan, gluten-free summer meal, the little plate holds Late July Organic Restaurant Style Chia & Quinoa Corn Tortilla Chips and half a can of Bush’s Vegetarian Baked Beans. The baked beans are straight out of the can to avoid heating up the kitchen any more than necessary, although(the green beans were more than worth the 10 minutes of stove top time. The baked beans make a great dip just the way that they are in the photo. Of course, you could always whirl them in the blender or food processor or VitaMix if you prefer your dip not so lumpy. Or you could use vegan gluten-free hummus instead of the beans if you prefer your dip hot and spicy and with not so much sugar. In case you are wondering whether this meal is balanced, it is: fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes, seeds and nuts.
A good farmers market is a real blessing to urban dwellers in several ways. First, the fruits and vegetables from local farms and orchards are freshly picked within a day or two of the farmers market, so they do not have to travel across the country or around the world to get to your table. Second, buying fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers market helps support the local economy. Third, buying fruits and vegetables at the farmers market from the people who actually grow them gives you a great chance to ask them about the fruits and vegetables, learn new recipes, and get to know wonderful people. Fourth, farmers markets can be great fun for the whole family.