Sunday Farmers Markets & Coconut-Balsamic Bacon

Roughly a bajillion years ago, I used to enjoy doing these ‘Anatomy of a Grocery Trip’ series on my blog. This was so long ago I’m talking about my prehistoric blogspot, which I updated all of the time (as if I’m gonna link it). Oh, how time flies and one begins to realize they were buying far too many processed things with a crapton of needless packaging and really, all they usually wanted was variations of tofu, rice and kale for dinner.

Nowadays, my life evidently revolves around farmers markets and it’s struck me as something I remain keen to blog about, so here we go. I’ve now ridden my bike out to my very favorite market in Lents, two weekends in a row, and dude, I was so damn enthused yesterday I nearly continued on towards the new Native Foods in Clackamas! Well, that and hungry. I sensibly (and patiently) held off, loaded up with gorgeous, delicious produce, and resorted to a colorful stir fry once I arrived home.

I will make it to that slightly closer suburban vegan locale at some point soon, but I remain crossing my fingers that a downtown or Pearl Native Foods will one day happen! Come on.

Here’s my Lents International Farmers Market haul from last weekend:

Let’s review what’s what:

Genovese Basil: Gosh, I can never pass up on grabbing at least one bunch of basil once it starts appearing at the market. This bunch was a mere $1, which is particularly fantastic for someone like me (aka someone without garden space and a window full of other fresh herbs). It makes me want to roast tomatoes ASAP, er, once they’re a bit more in season.

Snow Peas: This is a considerable statement, I know, but I think it might be the summer of the snow pea in my life. I’ve been super digging them sautéed with a ton of sliced garlic and white pepper in coconut oil. That + jasmine rice is my current go-to.

Zucchini: Okay, both irresistible and overwhelming, zucchini will start incorporating its way into at least every other dish I’ll cook for the next few months. I know you’re with me. Shhh, I’m currently a week and an entire day behind on my zucchini from this trip, with one making its way into a shiitake/zucchini/garlic scape rissoto so far. Years ago, my default with zucchini was roasted or diced into chili, and there’s a lot more of that in my immediate future. Plus, let’s be real, I not-so-secretly have been craving a good beer batter and zucchini sticks are calling.

Green Leaf Lettuce: The biggest success of my farmers market shopping so far this year is definitely eating ALL OF MY LETTUCE. I’ve got to give all of the credit to making jar after jar of tahini dressings, never-ending bags of sunflower seeds, roasting beets and moving on to giving homemade coconut bacon another go. It’s getting quite warm in Portland (you know, after a week of rain-storm-type-days) and these easy salads have been so refreshing. Notes on the bacon below.

Pea Shoots: These were definitely the star of my summer two years ago, and I welcome them back with open arms! These are so soft and lovely that I’d probably sleep on them. They smell so nice, too! So, I’ve been steaming, sautéing, pureeing (so great with fresh mint and garlic scapes = another new habit) and throwing just a bit into homemade stocks. Most recently, I made that aforementioned shiitakes/zucchini risotto, topped with balsamic steamed pea shoot leaves and crispy, rosemary-Marsala tempeh triangles for a BFF dinner. Pizza is so in store for my next bunch.

Warning: do make sure to de-stem if your bunch of looking tough. You don’t want to eat that.

Garlic Scapes: Fine, this one has *easily* been the early apple of my summer eye since I moved to Portland in 2005. I’m produce crush girl, for real. Every year, I see more and more at the markets (and stores!) and hear even more folks wondering what the heck to do with garlic scapes and tops. Hey, grill ’em, roast ’em, mince into stir fries, puree into marinades and dressings (love! with tahini), and when in doubt: pickle! Or make into stock.

Have I mentioned that farmers market trips inspire a lot of homemade stocks? It just makes sense.

Fresh Garlic: All I have to say is this: Fresh garlic makes it difficult to accept the end of summer. Oh, and seeing my first bulbs of purple heirloom garlic, which I have tattooed on my freaking arm, put one damn smile on my face last weekend.

Lacinato Kale: If you’re reading this, you’re probably vegan. Or living in 2014. Kale. You get it.

Pak Choi: It was purple! When J. Legume and I were staying at the Robinson Bungalows on Koh Rong Samloen last fall, we ate bok choi every single day with golden garlic and sweet chili sauce, and that’s one delicious constant I’d like to work into my summer meals.

Thanks to J. Legume (who, real life talk, is spending the summer working at a national park on Staten Island) for leaving her panniers in my hands this summer:

Easy peasy salad days

Now, here’s how I’ve been tackling so many damn salads (besides being keen to grab Terry’s new book):

Making Coconut-Balsamic Bacon:

Really, this is salty-maple-balsamic-smokey-coconut goodness. I’m so skipping the l.s. and making another batch in my smoker than next time I break it out. This recipe is purposely aggressive with the flavor!

  • 2 cups sizable, unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • parchment paper

Preheat your oven to 300F. Stir all the sauces together, and pour oven coconut flakes in a large bowl. Stir well, and spread out as evenly as possible on a baking sheet. Bake, stirring super often and flattening back out again, for 20-25 minutes, until slightly golden. Patience is key.

The coconut bacon happened first and foremost, for this farewell brunch pizza (by special request):

Pan-fried Yukons, scrambled tofu and kale, raab and coconut bacon (added after baking).




  1. I just bought Terry’s book and am SO ready to finally make coconut bacon.
    Lovely farmar stuff. I couldn’t resist garlic scapes last visit either. I like to wrap them around my arms and neck and pretend they are pet snakes before I eat them.

  2. I remember those old grocery haul posts on your old blogspot!!! Also, can you believe I’ve never even seen a garlic scape IRL!! I don’t think they grow around here or maybe our farmers haven’t caught on. But I only see them on blogs, and it makes me sad.

    1. Bianca! Shucks, we’ll have to get you to Portland for an early summer farmers market one of these days!
      Funny enough, I have so many garlic scapes that I left some on a neighbor’s door step yesterday!! So nice to see you pop up here <4

  3. I will remain forever jealous of your farmers market trips, I think we need to step it up over here! Pak Choy is my fave, I would eat it with every meal if Nick didn’t hate it so much!

  4. I liked your old grocery posts, and I LOVE your new market posts! I’ve been thinking that I should do more market posts. I get a ton of produce at the farmers markets here – and I go religiously twice a week. Like you, I’ve moved so much more towards simple meals of greens and veggies (though i do have a packet of field roast brekkie sausages in my fridge!). xo

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