Cook Local with the Little Rock Farmers’ Market
We’ve all heard countless messages about the importance of eating locally. What are the benefits? For starters, when local produce is in season, the large quantity of the crop tends to make it less expensive.
Cost is important, but what about taste? Locally grown produce is usually harvested within 24 hours of being purchased by the customer. Because of this, vegetables are able to develop their full flavor and stay fresh longer.
Did you know that the summer months are the peak season for many herbs and vegetables? Freshen up your routine and take advantage of the fresh produce at the Little Rock Farmers’ Market, located downtown at the River Market pavilions. The family-friendly market is open every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and every Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. After you’ve picked up your ingredients, use those delicious veggies to prepare an equally yummy recipe – Zucchini and Summer Squash Casserole.
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 pounds summer squash (about 6 medium), sliced into thin rounds
2 pounds zucchini (about 6 medium), sliced into thin rounds
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
3 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup crushed butter crackers
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with 1/2 tablespoon butter.
Heat the olive oil and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, salt, and black pepper and cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the squash and zucchini and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Stir in the thyme and remove from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to the prepared baking dish, reserving the cooking liquid.
Combine the eggs and cream in a medium bowl and whisk to blend. Gradually whisk the reserved cooking liquid into the egg mixture. When all the cooking liquid is incorporated, pour the mixture over the vegetables in the baking dish. Using a spoon, gently shift the vegetables around so the egg mixture is evenly distributed. Bake until the mixture sets, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle first with the crackers and then with the Parmesan, if using, and return to the oven. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. There are countless ways to prepare local produce this summer; share your favorite recipe(s) below!