How to Build a Dish at the Farmers Market

We’ve all been there. You get to the farmers market and it’s so beautiful and inspiring and you want this and that and the other. Everything is so gorgeous… but where do you start??

I collabed with Quiddity on a short video on how to shop the farmers market. Here’s my shopping strategy, and how I use my market haul to make a dish.

Purple Bravo Radish — This is my star item and what the dish revolves around

Purple Bravo Radish — This is my star item and what the dish revolves around

Custom Lettuce Blend - Purple Radish Shoots, Sunflower Shoots, Micro Chrysanthemum, Tatsoi, Micro Mesclun, Miner’s Lettuce, Lamb’s Quarters

Custom Lettuce Blend - Purple Radish Shoots, Sunflower Shoots, Micro Chrysanthemum, Tatsoi, Micro Mesclun, Miner’s Lettuce, Lamb’s Quarters

Though farmers markets can be a little overwhelming at first, remember that seasonal, local cooking is actually quite easy. If they grow together, they go together. Chances are, crops that come into season around the same time will naturally pair with one another on the plate.

Secondly, the ingredients are so good, you don’t need to do much. The best way to honor your ingredients is to prepare simply and then get out of the way.

And that’s what I did with my spring radish salad with aged Havarti, creamy horseradish dressing, and cru-tons. I left the beautiful lettuces and cheese as-is. I left the bread unadorned and untoasted so you can fully appreciate the texture (and use it to sop up the dressing).

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Because this dish was an ode to radish, I showcased it in three different preparations: raw, roasted, and pickled. Roasting brings out the radish’s sweetness and earthiness. Pickling draws out the spiciness. And raw is like the flawless no-makeup selfie — the radish is naturally beautiful thankyouverymuch.

Finally, I made a simple dressing that amplified and unified the flavors already in the salad. This horseradish dressing is creamy (to give heft to the leaves and unify them with the heartier radishes, cheese, and bread), sweet (to balance out the bitterness of the radishes and greens), and spicy (to alert our tastebuds to the subtle spiciness of the spring radish).

You might be tempted to eat this salad with your hands, savoring each ingredient one by one. Do it! That’d be the ultimate way of honoring these great spring offerings.

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½ cup buttermilk
½ cup kefir yogurt
¼ cup olive oil
2-4 tablespoons prepared horseradish (depending on how potent your horseradish is)
1 ½ teaspoons honey
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together and drizzle onto salad just before serving.

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Highlights from #FoodFictionFriday Assignment #4: Mystery Basket

This was a tough week, but you guys came through like CHAMPS. Here’s this week highlight:

Week after week, @rossdibi has delivered her FFF in both Italian and English! Here’s her weekly assignment, a clever and personal riff on Mrs Dalloway.

E l'unica cosa che riesco a chiedermi è "Perché Mrs Dalloway sta bevendo del Tokay?"
Tutti i vini nascono dalla vite e non dal pompelmo sebbene (in inglese) le parole siano simili. Non importa cosa servi col vino. Però ricorda che alcuni sono migliori, sebbene sia difficile trovare quello giusto per i carciofi o le costolette. Ma al party di Mrs Dalloway non ci stanno, le costolette, sono aspic col pollo o del salmone.
E' persino un Tokay Imperiale quello servito per dire "Che piacere vederti" a tutti, uno per volta.
Così è scritto. Mi fido di Virginia anche se non ho mai visto Clarissa deliziata da un pezzo di cioccolata bianca.
E' la mezza età, secondo Peter Walsh. O la mediocrità, lui suppone ed io pure.
Sono fedele al Tocai - con la c- e alla sua terra, il Collio in Friuli - come puoi vedere. Sì, lo puoi chiamare Friulano. Sempre sincero e senza ambizioni imperiali.
Mrs Dalloway, pensa al Friulano sotto questo cielo.

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Ok guys! This week, the #FoodFictionFriday assignment was to write a story with the mystery basket ingredients: grapefruit, baby back ribs, and white chocolate. Here’s my story for the week: ✏️ He licked the rib clean and then placed it between us. “This’ll work, right?” Misty and I locked eyes. I don’t know what she was thinking, but I was thinking about the curvature of the bone. Would it spin evenly like a top? Or would it wobble and tip over, like a tire off a junkyard car? I guess it didn’t matter. It would stop at someone either way. He wanted us to think that this was an impromptu decision, like hey, let’s use this random thing for this random game. But we all knew what was gonna happen tonight, even if we didn’t expect a friggin’ bone. There were two of them, and two of us. Just Misty and me. Jared spun the bone so fast it lifted off the floor like a helicopter, right onto Misty’s lap. I probably could’ve made a case that it was actually pointing to me, but the whole thing was nestled between her thighs and Jared was already crawling towards Misty and suddenly me and the other boy were nothing, just the other discarded bones on our paper plates. The whole time they kissed I stared at the food Jared’s mom left out for us: sticky glazed ribs, grapefruit wedges, and white chocolate bonbons, all wrong wrong wrong. I couldn’t think of a more vile meal in the history of mankind. But when their lips released with a sickening wet pop, I ate a bonbon, then chased it with the grapefruit. A casual, indifferent act, or so I hoped it’d come off. It tasted bitter and then sweet and then way too sweet, a bracing pucker of bad. It took me three full seconds to stomach it, but eventually everything settled. By the time Misty looked at me, head slung low and hands wrenched, I came to appreciate the awfulness and considered it a type of medicine. ✏️ Ok your turn! Post your story with #FoodFictionFriday tomorrow and tag me. You can read past entries by following the hashtag or visiting my FFF story highlights. 🙌 🙌

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And here’s mine!

Whew, that’s one whole month of Food Fiction Friday. I love our writing community and have been so inspired by your hard work and inventive takes.

Highlights from #FoodFictionFriday Assignment #3: Imaginative Eating

Another great week of food fictioning! Here’s a peek at all the goodness that’s happening…

@ells3844 wrote a full-throated love song to BREAD. I loved how she took examples from around the world, then quickly expanded our typical understanding of bread with out-of-the-box examples and language.

@curiouskitkatt took an autobiographical route and demonstrated what’s unusual is always a matter of perspective.

And here’s my entry for the week!

Thanks for playing along. Next week’s challenge takes inspiration from an iconic food television show…

Highlights from #FoodFictionFriday Assignment #2: Distillation

And… week 2 of #FoodFictionFriday is in the books. You guys are really finding your writing groove. As a reminder, the challenge was to use the principles of distillation to write and edit a piece describing a person as a drink.

Here are some highlights:

This piece from @Boomboombbq read in such an effortless, uncontrived way. The drink metaphor was so natural, you’d think we all described people that way.

@Demewalls wrote a heartfelt yet unsentimental ode to one of the best drinks of all time. Don’t you want to be this guy’s best friend?

And finally… here’s mine!

Keep on the lookout for the next prompt on this blog or on Instagram. The next assignment goes a little more outside the box. ;)

Highlights from #FoodFictionFriday Assignment #1

What a great way to start #FoodFictionFriday! Thank you to all who participated. I loved seeing how everyone interpreted the prompt in their own unique ways.

I read and comment on every single story and will be featuring a handful here on the blog every week.

@Jillfoodie’s 2-sentence story showed incredible confidence. She set up the story, then let the reader fill in the blanks for him or herself.

@Sookjinong put a spin on a classic fairy tale, revealing a different sort of magic. I loved how the bean became the touchstone — a seed, a stew ingredient, a way to connect…

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Tomorrow morning I’ll be flying to LaLa Land 🌴, so I’m posting my #FoodFictionFriday tonight. Here’s my piece for assignment #1: Start a recipe while also conveying another world beyond the food at hand. ✏️ Chocolate sprinkles Chocolate-covered pretzels Oreos (not generic brand!) Peanut butter cups (mini if possible) Wafer cones Chocolate chips (semi-sweet) Chocolate syrup Elmer’s glue Instant mashed potatoes - 5 boxes CONFIDENTIAL. FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. ✏️ At the risk of killing the art, I’ll unpack it -- just because this is our first one and I know it can be a little funky to transition from food non-fiction to fiction. My goal was to portray a fastidious recipe writer and take the reader on a little roller coaster. When we start, we think this person is making a delicious sundae. But then we get to Elmer’s glue? Instant mashed potatoes?? Perhaps this person is a food stylist. And then the last line drops. Why so paranoid? Maybe the author has some not-so-sweet intentions… ✏️ If you’re writing an autobiographical piece, I encourage you to play with voice, structure, and subtext (rather than the typical linear, confessional approach). I‘m so excited to read your pieces and see how you’ve interpreted this prompt. Remember, post your story tomorrow with #FoodFictionFriday and @jessica_tom. Check out other people’s stories and show them some love. Hit me up if you have any homework questions or need any guidance!👇Remember the most important thing is to HAVE FUN and PLAY. It’s just a game of make-believe. 😊

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And here’s my story!

On Monday, I’ll be posting the next assignment. Stay tuned and thanks for playing! :)