When I spend my time in the City, most Sunday mornings will find me over at the Headhouse Square Farmers Market picking out fresh goodies for the week. Nearly every Sunday, it’s crazy jammed with shoppers and baby strollers and too many friendly dogs for the tight space. But it’s a mellow Sunday morning, right? The perfect opportunity for a zen experience surrounded by goodness grown locally.
There is always some history to be shared when you’re in Philadelphia and the Headhouse Square market is no exception. The sturdy, picturesque structure is an outdoor Georgian “shed” originally built in 1745 for the same thing it’s used for today - to shelter merchants selling their wares. With arched open-sides made of brick, there is a “headhouse” at the north end which originally housed the master of the market (think quality control) and a firehouse which was added in the early 1800’s. A cupola topped by a weathervane sits on top and cobblestone streets border each side. The shed in this location, between Lombard and Pine streets, is known as the Shambles by locals and was restored in the 1960’s - it’s been in use off and on ever since.
During Summer and Fall weekends, tables are stacked high with local produce, cheeses, chocolates, fresh cut flowers, Alaskan-caught fish, fresh roasted coffee beans, breads and pastries, local honey and candles. There’s even a garden plant man who gives great advice on what to plant and where best to plant it.
Did I mention the happy goats? They aren't actually at the market adding to the chaos, but their photos are. They say happy goats make better cheese and I'm charmed enough to buy a round of this amazing cheese every time.
This week the beets looked amazing -- red, golden, orange -- and I started thinking it was time to whip up a couple of goat cheese and beet towers for a light summer salad.
One (1) small package of fresh goat cheese: herbed, plain or pepper
Two (2) shallots, thinly sliced
One (1) bunch of red leaf lettuce, washed and patted dry
Pine nuts (a handful or so)
Olive Oil & local honey (enough to drizzle to taste)
One half lemon
Boil or roast four medium size beets until tender. Any color you desire, or mix it up. Toast pine nuts over a medium heat until golden brown in a non-stick skillet - set aside to cool. After the beets have cooled, slip off the skins and slice into 1/2” slices. Gently tear red leaf lettuce and divide onto four salad plates. Lay the first beet slice on top of a lettuce bed, top with a very thin slice of goat cheese, add the next slice of beet (alternating colors makes a very pretty salad). Top each layer of beet with goat cheese. Keep going. One beet per plate. Add the shallots to the lettuce and drizzle each plate with olive oil and honey. Squeeze lemon juice over the lettuce to taste. Add fresh cracked pepper, salt and a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts. Enjoy.
What are you finding at your local farmers market? Even better, what are you cooking?