Farmers’ Market Veggie & Quinoa Stir-Fry

This guest post is from Cara Lyons from Cara’s Cravings.

In my next life, I’m going to live somewhere with year-round farmers’ markets. Heck, I keep telling my husband we’re going to do it in this life but we haven’t bit bullet. That’s what happens when you get comfy in a home that’s not too far from all your family and friends. But if they knew what they were missing, wouldn’t they pack up and come along with us?

What is so special about farmers’ market veggies? They are…

  • Prettier than anything I see in the grocery store, even with their naturally quirky imperfections
  • Colorful and sweet smelling, the way only freshly-picked, less-traveled produce can be
  • Lovingly grown by people who care just as much about what’s going in your body as you do

Here in New England, we’re still a month away from farmers’ markets, but that doesn’t stop me from choosing what’s most seasonal and organic in the grocery store. When summer and early fall roll around, I’ll be giddily filling up my reusable bags with more locally-grown, seasonal produce than my husband thinks we can eat. What’s my secret, besides giant salads and nutrient-packed smoothies?

Stir-fry’s!

Stir-frying is a quick and easy way to pack your farmers’ market goodies into a healthful and colorful meal, and it’s no secret that this kind of meal is a favorite among busy gals everywhere. But this ain’t your momma’s stir-fry. I like to bulk mine up with quinoa, added straight in the pan and allowed to brown up. You remember Chinese fried rice, right? It’s kind of like that!

To highlight Spring’s best produce in this fried quinoa dish, I used:

  • Sliced Asparagus, freshly shelled Peas, crunchy diced Fennel and clean-tasting Dill

When the local selection changes with the arrival of Summer and Fall, you might try this with:

  • Crisp Zucchini, smoky Egglant, sugary-sweet Grape Tomatoes, and bright Basil
  • Hearty Acorn Squash, quartered Brussels Sprouts, buttery Leeks, and flowery Thyme

While I definitely heart my veggies, I am the type that always needs a little extra protein. A quick and cheap way to add protein is with a fried or poached egg, and believe it or not, it works with just about anything. My husband and I like to say that everything is better with an egg! But if eggs aren’t your thing, diced grilled chicken, leftover cooked salmon, or crispy baked tofu would do the trick just as well.

What’s your secret for using up an abundance of farmers’ market fare you simply couldn’t resist?

Farmers’ Market Veggie & Quinoa Stir-Fry

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 shallot, minced
1 medium fennel bulk, diced
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed into 1” lengths (first, snap off the thick stems)
1/2 cup shelled peas
3 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup cooked quinoa
juice from 1 lemon
½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill OR 1 teaspoon dried dill
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallot, fennel, asparagus and peas. Cook for about 8 minutes, until the shallot and fennel are lightly browned and softened, and the asparagus and peas are crisp-tender.

Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring. Season with salt.

Add quinoa, lemon juice and mustard to the pan. Stir to combine everything. Increase heat to medium-high. Cook for 5-10 more minutes, turning occasionally, until the quinoa is browned in spots. Stir in dill, and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.

Cara Lyons is a former chemical engineer turned healthy food blogger, freelance writer and photographer. If you think that’s “quite the career change,” you’re not alone! But Cara feels her engineering experience actually ties in quite well to recipe development, especially when it comes to experimenting with non-traditional ingredients and cooking methods, creating recipes to meet various nutritional requirements, and making healthy food taste really darn good. Find more of Cara’s original recipes on her blog, Cara’s Cravings, and in Clean Eating Magazine, and follow her musings on Twitter and Facebook.

8 Responses to Farmers’ Market Veggie & Quinoa Stir-Fry

  • Kim Lutz says:

    Cara,
    This looks beautiful! Here in the Midwest we’re waiting on pins and needles for farmers’ market season, too!

    [Reply]

    Ricki Heller Reply:

    @Kim Lutz, Some great info about farmers’ market veggies–and I love the stir-fry. Quinoa is by far my favorite grain (if we don’t count oats!) and my fave for anything savory. Love this combination of veggies–and FENNEL!! ;-)

    [Reply]

  • Hallie says:

    I’m a huge farmers’ market fan! Can’t wait until mine gets a bit more “rockin and rollin” as the weather warms up and more things start to grow. :)

    [Reply]

  • I LOVE the farmers’ market! I can’t wait to go! The stir fry sounds amazing. I never think to make mine with quinoa. I always use brown rice. I’m definitely going to try this one out!

    [Reply]

  • Kim Maes says:

    Okay, Cara! You can move to AZ. We have Farmer’s Markets here all but 3 months of the year (when it just gets too darn hot to have them). I love stir fry’s! I grew up in SF and my Mom was always going and getting amazing veggies and throwing them in her different stir fry concoctions. Now I do the same for my kids and they usually end up eating all types of fun veggies. I love your recipe and the idea of the egg on top. I need me some protein too! ;)

    [Reply]

  • Alta Mantsch says:

    I get so excited when the farmer’s market opens for the season. Of course, it’s warm here in Texas (and warmer than usual, even) so we’ve had the markets open since Easter. Last weekend, there were PEACHES at the market already – several weeks ahead of schedule. (Like I said, it’s been warm!) Anyway, I love this simple stir-fry idea – I often do this with any number of farmer’s market veggies, especially as the week is coming to an end and I have “leftovers” I need to use up! And I’m with Kim – an egg on top makes everything better!

    [Reply]

  • Alisa says:

    I can’t wait for more summer produce! You’ve reminded me that I really need to have some quinoa again. It’s been ages!

    [Reply]

  • This looks DELICIOUS Cara. Can’t wait to try it :)

    [Reply]

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