A farmers market dinner: Rare treats and common joys

One of the beauties of having two farmers market sites this year is that there are many more vendors to fill the dinner table.

The Saturday of the Edina Art Fair, I was prowling the Fulton Farmers Market when I spotted something I hadn’t tasted for three years: fresh morel mushrooms. A pound and a half were sitting in a plain cardboard container at The Weed Patch, our furthest-flung farmers who drive 115 miles from Belvue, Minnesota every summer week.

I’d seen morels in groceries, but never for as low a price as Michele was charging, and for less than the cost of a couple of Subway sandwiches, I possessed a half-pound of inspirational fungi that made my brain race with possibilities.

I pondered fancy preparations, but since I hadn’t tasted them for so long, I decided the only way to go was sautéed in butter. That left an essential question: draped over a steak, or not? After a day of contemplation, my wife asked Mike Braucher, our meat vendor at the Sunday Kingfield Farmers Market, what his best cut of grass-fed beef was. “Ribeye” he said, and she walked away with three precious half-pound cuts.

I can confess this was an indulgence, but as any market-going epicures know, you pair the luxuries with the bargains. For less than the price of a bagged salad, I had a mix for fresh arugula and spinach, and for a couple of bucks more, the first cucumbers of the season, successfully greenhoused by Peter’s Pumpkins. A few crumpled dollar bills were liberated for a fresh baguette from Sun Street Breads. Carmel-colored and crunchy, it was perfect for sopping up the buttery morel juice.

Could we pass up Gardens of Eagan’s greenhouse strawberries for dessert? We could not.

Early-season newcomers sometimes mistake our local-only markets for food courts — with the Minnesota growing season so tardy this year, Chef Shack’s pulled-pork tacos, Foxy’s fried falafel pitas, Big River’s wood-fired pizza, and Gai Gai Thai’s seared chicken wings are especially essential.

But by the time you read this, the veggies will have started approaching their crescendo, the price points will tempt salivators of all means, and the sustained refrain of fresh, local and delicious will last into the fall.