my little corner of the world

jackie miller : : graphic design + whatnot

Farmer’s market challenge

With all of the talk of GMO this and organic that, we have been making an effort to eat healthier at 186. Perfect timing, given that everything seems to be coming into season and there’s a great Farmers’ Market mere blocks from our house. The best part is that it actually stays open after the normal 9-5 crowd gets home from work! (a rare quality with the local Farmers’ Markets). If you’re a local, check it out! Davis Square, Somerville (Wednesdays: 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm, end of May to the end of November). When I say this Farmers’ Market is great, I wasn’t kidding. It has everything from the obligatory fresh fruits and veggies to fresh pasta and sauces, meats, seafood, chicken, even bakery items and ready-made desserts! Talk about one stop shopping!

The Challenge

Inspired by our obsession with every cooking show coming and going, we decided to make it into a competition. Our challenge was to make dinner for three for under $20. I was chosen to go first with our little challenge. To be perfectly honest, I am a little rusty in the kitchen and only seem to don an apron when I am expecting a crowd. (usually for our annual ‘orphan’ holiday dinner parties that we throw for anyone who lives too far to get home to their family for the holiday…) So, I did a little research before the market to get some ideas. I googled ‘farmers’ market meals’ and came upon ‘farmers’ market chicken pasta salad’ from This I can handle and I knew that I could get most of the ingredients at the market. (We threw in a last minute clause that anything already in the fridge/pantry is up for grabs and didn’t count toward the $20 cap.)

I made some slight adjustments to the salad, seeing as I hate onions and cilantro, there were no red peppers at the market and I have no idea how to smoke a chicken… but I compensated in my head by adding some cotija, parmesan and more asiago, lots more basil and baby bella mushrooms.

All in all, I would say it was a success! I spent $19.75, everyone liked it and we even had enough for lunchtime leftovers for the three of us! Can’t wait to see what the boys are going to cook up next Wednesday!

The Recipes

The original recipe can be found on here.

In case you want it, here’s my modified recipe:

Jackie’s version of Farmers’ Market Chicken Pasta Salad
with Parmesan Vinaigrette

1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes
2 small zucchini, sliced into a half moon shape
1 small green bell pepper
1 cob of fresh corn kernels
2 fresh, firm peaches (about a cup)
8oz fresh pasta, cooked al dente
2 bone-in chicken breasts, oven roasted
1/3 cup torn fresh basil
1 container of baby bella mushrooms, sliced
Asiago, cojita and Parmesan cheese

Toss first 5 ingredients along with basil and mushrooms in a bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. Add chicken and pasta. Toss gently to coat with dressing (recipe to follow). Season with salt & pepper. Top with more basil and asiago (and cojita and parmesan!).

Parmesan Vinaigrette

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Process cheese, oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, pepper & salt in processor until smooth. Add basil & pulse 5-6 times or until just blended.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!