A five-day meal plan and farmers market shopping list from a local cookbook author
Photography by Michael Butler, Jr.
Over the spring and summer of 2019, I wrote my second paleo cookbook, Fast & Flavorful Paleo Cooking. Each week I bought the majority of the ingredients used to make the recipes for the book at the year-round Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market. To show how easy meal planning at the farmers market can be, I am sharing a five-day meal plan—with a main dish and a vegetable side from my cookbook for each day—and a shopping list.
We are incredibly lucky to have a farmers market that is open every single Saturday morning all year.
The offerings at the Cooper-Young market are so diverse and robust that it is possible to do all, or at least a very large chunk, of your grocery shopping for the week there.
That’s what my husband and I have been doing since we moved to Memphis in 2015, but we’ve made it a point to try to buy as much food as we can from our local farmers markets since about 2008. If you’re used to relying on grocery stores and big box stores, it is definitely a transition to switch to shopping at the farmers market, but it is not hard to do.
There are so many benefits to buying as much of your food as you can from local farmers. First, the flavor and freshness of the food simply cannot be beat.
Once you eat farmers market celery, carrots, tomatoes, eggs, and meat (especially chicken), you’ll think the stuff at the grocery store is bland and boring.
Second, you reduce your toxic burden since the vendors at the market take pride in using little to no pesticides or insecticides. Some are Certified Naturally Grown, and others adhere to organic practices without official certification. There’s evidence that produce grown this way is more nutritious, and there is also evidence that plants that have been nibbled on by insects have higher levels of health-promoting phytochemicals like polyphenols and other antioxidants.
Third, it’s much more sustainable and eco-friendly to buy food that has been grown locally and not flown or shipped from across the country or from overseas. Industrial agriculture monocropping practices are seriously bad news for the environment and soil health.
Fourth, you’re supporting your local economy and making a real positive impact in the lives of small business owners who are also your neighbors.
One of my favorite parts of shopping at the farmers market is getting to talk to the people who are growing the food that nourishes my family.
I’ve become dear friends with these amazing people over the years and look forward to the conversations we have every Saturday morning.
At the Cooper-Young market every weekend, you’ll find a whole slew of vegetables and fruit, of course. But you’ll also find pasture-raised meat from happy and humanely treated animals, seafood, eggs, mushrooms, coffee and teas, and dairy products. There also are prepared foods, made-from-scratch breads and pastas, herbal tinctures, and goods from many artisans. If you’ve never been, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see just how much it has to offer.
Weekly Farmers Market Meal Plan
Here are a suggested main dish and side dish for each weekday, plus the recipes for Friday’s dishes are included at the bottom along with the shopping list for the week. The rest of the recipes can be found in my latest cookbook, Fast & Flavorful Paleo Cooking.
Monday: Mediterranean-Herbed Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce. Sautéed Radishes with Greens.
Tuesday: Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Horseradish Pan Sauce. Colcannon.
Wednesday: Lemon Garlic Chicken Skillet with Wilted Lettuce. Roasted Mushrooms with Gremolata.
Thursday: Brisk Borscht. Spiced Beet Greens.
Friday: Persian Herb Frittata (Kuku Sabzi). Roasted Carrot Fries with Carrot Top Chimichurri. (scroll down for the recipes)
Persian Herb Frittata (Kuku Sabzi)
Kuku sabzi is an herb-packed frittata that is traditionally eaten to welcome the arrival of spring in Iran. This version adds some cruciferous leafy greens to maximize the nutrient density. You can easily adapt this recipe to suit your tastes and experiment with using different herbs and greens. It is a fantastic way to use up any leftover, partial bunches of fresh herbs and takes only about 15 minutes to prepare. Serves 4 to 6
- 6 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon fine Himalayan salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup (24 grams) finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1 cup (16 grams) finely chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ cup (26 grams) finely chopped fresh dill
- 1 cup (67 grams) finely chopped arugula or kale
- 1 or 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) extra-virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the turmeric, salt, pepper, and garlic. Use a spoon to stir the parsley, cilantro, dill, arugula (or kale), and green onions into the eggs to create a thick mixture just barely held together by the eggs.
- Heat a 10- to 12-inch (25- to 30.5-centimeter) oven-safe skillet for several minutes over medium heat until hot. Pour in the olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and use the spoon to spread it evenly. Cook until the edges are just set, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the heated oven and bake until it is set in the middle, about 7 minutes. Test by shaking the pan and watch to see if the center wiggles. Broil on high for 1 or 2 minutes if necessary.
- Cut into 6 slices and serve immediately. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in a 350°F (180°C) oven for about 10 minutes or until warmed through, or serve leftovers chilled.
Roasted Carrot Fries with Carrot Top Chimichurri
Carrot greens are such a neglected vegetable. Did you know that they are very similar to parsley, and in fact are closely related? That makes them wonderful to use in a chimichurri, which is traditionally made from parsley and used as a condiment for steak in South America. When you can find a bunch of carrots with the greens intact, grab them up so that you can make this bright, fresh, herbaceous sauce that pairs perfectly with roasted carrot fries! Serve it with a steak so that you can use some of the chimichurri there, too. This colorful, tasty dish will be on your table in about 30 minutes. Serves 2 to 3
For the carrot fries:
- 6–7 medium carrots (about 1 bunch)
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon fine Himalayan salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
For the chimichurri:
- 1 cup (60 grams) chopped carrot greens, thick stems removed (about 1 bunch)
- ½ cup (120 milliliters) extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) red wine vinegar or coconut vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fine Himalayan salt, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon (14 grams) minced garlic (about 1 small head or half a large head)
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- To make the fries, cut the tops off the carrots and set them aside for the chimichurri. Peel the carrots and cut them in half crosswise. Take the bottom, thin halves and cut them in half lengthwise. Take the top, thick halves and cut them lengthwise into quarters. This will give you spears that are about the same size. Place the carrot spears on a metal baking sheet and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle the salt and pepper on top. Use your hands to rub the oil and seasonings onto every carrot spear. Spread them evenly on the baking sheet, ensuring they aren’t crowded. Roast the carrot spears for 15 to 20 minutes, turning them halfway through cooking.
- While the carrots are roasting, make the chimichurri. Massage the carrot greens, olive oil, vinegar, and salt together with your hands in a bowl until the greens release some of their water and they soften. Stir in the garlic and pepper flakes (if using). Serve the carrot fries with the chimichurri on the side as a dipping sauce, or spread it on top of each serving.
Shopping List for the Week
2 bunches of carrots with greens attached
4 heads of garlic (spring garlic, or green garlic, works)
1 head of escarole or red leaf lettuce, or other flavorful lettuce
2 pounds beets with greens attached
3 pounds potatoes
1 bag of arugula
2 medium and 1 small onion
2 small green cabbages
1 bunch of green onions
2 small cucumbers
1 bunch of radishes with greens attached
1½ pounds mushrooms, any variety
1 bunch of chard, kale, or other leafy greens
1 large bunch of fresh dill
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
2 bunches of fresh parsley
1 bunch of fresh mint
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
Meats, Eggs, and Dairy
1 pork tenderloin, 1 to 1 ¼ pounds
1 container of freshly rendered lard or ghee
2 chicken breasts, or 1 large whole chicken, broken down and legs and wings reserved for other recipes in the book
1½ pounds grassfed ground beef
1 container of yogurt
1 dozen eggs
1 package of bacon
1 pound ground lamb
From the Grocery Store (or Your Pantry/Fridge):
Finely ground Himalayan salt
5 lemons, preferably organic
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 can full-fat coconut milk
Apple cider vinegar
Beef bone broth (or make your own)
Chicken bone broth (or make your own)
You can find Fast & Flavorful Paleo Cooking at Arrow (2535 Broad Avenue), Novel (387 Perkins Extended), and Burke’s Book Store (936 South Cooper Street). Or order a signed copy from The Curious Coconut website.
Amanda Torres is a neuroscientist turned cookbook author and blogger, and she is the owner of The Curious Coconut website. She is co-owner of and fine art photographer for Mobius Theory. She spends her days developing allergen-friendly recipes, writing science-backed educational articles, and photographing Memphis with a surrealist perspective. @thecuriouscoconut
Michael Butler, Jr., loves everything Memphis. His goal is to show the beauty in Memphis that others overlook. He’s a photographer, videographer, Memphis tee collector, foodie, lover of tacos, and mayor of South Memphis. @_one901
Jean Choi is a Los Angeles-based nutritional therapy practitioner, recipe developer, and food photographer. She blogs at What Great Grandma Ate and is the author of Korean Paleo. @whatgreatgrandmaate