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Rain or shine, the Kitsilano farmers market is a great place to find great food each summer.

Bringing Summer Home for Dinner

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One of my favourite weekend stops if I can’t get to the fruit stands of Keremeos and Cawston, is the Kitsilano farmers market each Sunday. It runs from 10am to 2pm in the parking lot between the Kitsilano Community Centre and Connaught Park. It’s steps from the Arbutus greenway and the exceptionally hip Platform 7 coffee bar, putting it in the heart of one of Vancouver’s trendiest Sunday destinations.

Chances are you won’t be eating most of your purchases there, though. There are food trucks, coffee and baked treats available on site, but fingerling potatoes really need to be cooked – I don’t care how good they look.

The right ingredients

Making the most of the market’s weekly offerings requires a smart budget, a good meal plan or a little imagination. Sometimes, all three help! In my case, I try to limit my spending to $20 a week. According to the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets, that’s about average for most shoppers. My purchases might include $5 worth of fingerling potatoes, $9 of beets, $3 of radishes and a $5 of cherries. (Wait – have I gone over-budget? That was easy!)

Those four items might sound boring – what do you do with beets, anyway? – but they’re worthwhile. Add some meat from your favourite butcher and you have a full meal, and a healthy one in which vegetables take up half your plate.

Kitchen inspiration

Potatoes are easy to cook. My favourite are the slender, buttery Sieglinde from Helmer’s Organics in Pemberton. The little spuds can be steamed in the skins until tender, then tossed with butter and herbs. Alternatively, you can steam, slice, then toss with olive oil and shaved prosciutto or some other cured meat for a light warm salad.

Beets can be pickled or made into beet chips, a healthy snack that’s easy to prepare. The greens can be steamed. My favourite grower is Cropthorne Farm on Westham Island, which sells red, golden and striped varieties by the bunch, or three.

Radishes? No cooking required! Farmer Koo from Surrey often brings bunches with the greens attached. The greens are can be washed of grit and used in salads, or you can process them for a spicy radish leaf pesto. (I use mine on toast and sandwiches, or in omelettes and pastas.)

Sweet surprise

Cherries – both sweet and sour – are the stars of summer. Sweet cherries bred right here in B.C. come with names like Skeena and Staccato. They’re great for eating out of hand for a snack of dessert. My personal favourites are the tart cherries from Jobst-hof Orchard in Oyama. Pitted and tossed into an Austrian-style cherry cake, their tang is perfect for summer celebrations. They can also be preserved, bottling their goodness for crepes and pastries through the winter.

These are just some of the ideas for making the most of summer’s bounty. With so many tips online, it really takes just a few keystrokes to make the most of a $20 budget. You’ll discover new foods, and perhaps even new friends among the market vendors.

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