Make The Most Of Your Spring Farmers' Market Finds

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Salad
Spring produce is at its peak, which means it's time to step away from Pinterest (even if just for a short while) and head to your local farmers' market. It's the perfect time to draw inspiration from the colorful bounty and get creative in your kitchen. Last weekend, I brought home the prettiest veggies and made this vibrant, tasty salad. We eat with our eyes first, after all.

Farmers' Market Salad with Arugula Hummus
Serves 2
for the salad:
Approx. 8 small carrots
Olive oil
Splash of balsamic vinegar
A few handfuls of baby spring greens
A few squeezes of lemon juice
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 beet, sliced thin
Pinches of red-pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
Dollop of arugula hummus, per plate

Arugula hummus: (makes about 1.5 cups)
1 cup chickpeas, cooked and drained
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 handfuls of arugula leaves
Juice of one lemon
3-4 tbsps olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Roast the carrots: Using a vegetable peeler, peel four carrots into ribbons. Slice the other four in half, lengthwise, and chop into approximately three- to four-inch pieces. Place them separately on a baking sheet; toss with olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. Remove ribbons from the oven after eight to 10 minutes, until they're slightly crispy and browned on the edges. Continue to roast the others until golden brown on the outside, about 15 more minutes.

Make the hummus:
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.

Make the salad:
Toss the spring greens with a little olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Add the chickpeas, feta, sliced beets, and roasted carrots to the salad. Top with a spoonful of hummus, and serve.

Recipe and Photo Courtesy of Love & Lemons.
Carrots
Here's a quick, how-to guide and suggestions for preparing these veggies:

Carrots
Stop buying carrots in bags at the grocery store, and look for locally grown ones that are smaller and thinner (multicolored if your market has them). They have a nice, tender bite and milder flavor.

Raw: Use a vegetable peeler to slice carrots into thick ribbons, and toss in a salad.

Roasted: Leave tiny ones whole, slice larger ones in half, and roast them in a 400-degree oven for 20 or so minutes.

Baked: Peel skin, grate, and add to muffins, cakes, and cookies.

Arugula
These peppery little leaves bring a spicy kick. They're sold either in bunches or packed in plastic bags. Look for leaves that are vibrant in color.

Clean: Wash leaves in a large bowl of cold water, allowing the dirt to fall to the bottom. Shake out excess water in a colander, and let dry at room temp.

Raw: Mix into salads and sandwiches.

Semicooked: Toss with warm pasta, and mix with olive oil, lemon, and Parmesan cheese for a simple, tasty meal.

Blended: Make pesto by subbing half of the basil with arugula.

Photo: Courtesy of Love & Lemons.
Beets
Beets
For a fun pop of color, look for these chioggia beets, which a red-and-white striped. (Although, the red and gold varieties are equally delicious.) The freshest ones should be firm to the touch.

Clean: Scrub off dirt and peel the skin when using raw. If roasting, leave the skin on; it'll slide off easier once they're cooked.

Raw: Grate or thinly slice; toss into salads.

Roasted: Wrap in foil and roast until tender (30-50 minutes, depending on the size). Let cool to the touch. Using your hands, peel under cold, running water.

Baby Spring Salad Greens
Look for colorful, mixed baby leaves that your farm stand has packed into bags.

Clean: Wash leaves in a large bowl of cold water, allowing dirt to fall to the bottom. Shake out excess water in a colander, and let dry at room temp.

Raw: These tender leaves are perfect for salads, sandwiches, and wraps.

Photo: Courtesy of Love & Lemons.