Nearly two decades ago, my friend, Abby Mandel, realized her dream of bringing a farmers market to Chicago. She worked tirelessly to secure the right location and non-profit status to make sure this would be a lasting institution for the city so more people could have access to locally- and sustainably-grown food. Thanks to the help of 10-year lease granted by Mayor Richard M. Daley, the Green City Market grew from just a few farmers setting up their stands in an alley next to the Chicago Theatre to a regular bi-weekly market in the center of Lincoln Park with more than 50 vendors and a title as the only truly “green” farmers market supporting sustainable practices.
“The Green City Market Cookbook,” released last year takes Mandel’s vision one-step further by helping even more people experience the deliciousness of the farmers market at home. Starting in the spring of 2013, I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to join a small team of volunteers put together by Sarah Stegner, chef/owner of Prairie Grass Café in Northbrook, founding member and co-chair of the Green City Market board, to produce the book. I enjoyed helping choose the recipes submitted by customers, volunteers, chefs and farmers, formatting the recipes in the approved style, shopping for groceries at the market each week and then testing most of the recipes with help from other volunteers as needed.
Swap the steak for meaty mushrooms in this vegetarian-friendly recipe below from “The Green City Market Cookbook: Great Recipes from Chicago’s Award-Winning Farmers Market” (Agate, 2014), with notes from Jacqueline Fisch, who submitted the tasty dish. I personally love the portabellas from River Valley Ranch in Burlington, Wisc., which has a stand at the market on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Portobello Steak and Potato Salad
I once overheard someone say, “Nobody makes friends over salad.” This recipe is my response to this statement. Not only will you make friends, you will also make friends for life, maybe even lovers! This is the mother of all salads – a steakhouse version with plenty of delicious summertime vegetables, but without the meat.
-Jacqueline Fisch, customer
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Makes 4 servings
- 2 large or 3 medium portobello mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed
- 2 tablespoons red or white wine
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 cups cubed scrubbed potatoes (about 3/4-inch chunks)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 small yellow or white onion, sliced
- 1 medium yellow squash or zucchini, diagonally cut into 1/4 –inch slices
- 1/2 cup grilled corn kernels (cut from 1 cob of grilled corn), (optional)
- 1 large roasted red bell pepper (bottled is okay)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
- 4 cups packed mixed baby or torn salad greens
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 400o
2. If desired, scrape out the dark gills from undersides of the mushrooms with a spoon.
3. Place the mushrooms on a shallow plate and drizzle the wine and vinegar over them. Turn over the mushrooms and season them with the salt and black pepper. (They will absorb most of the marinade). Set aside and let stand at room temperature while preparing potatoes.
4. In a large bowl, toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the oil.
5. Transfer the potatoes to a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan and arrange them in a single layer. Season with the salt and black pepper and roast in the oven 10 minutes. Toss well and continue to roast 10 to 12 minutes or until browned and tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.
6. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the onion and zucchini and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat and stir in corn (if desired). Transfer the mixture to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
7. Add the mushrooms to the same skillet and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until lightly browned and tender. Remove from the heat and set aside.
8. Place the roasted pepper, lemon juice, horseradish and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a blender or the bowl of a mini food processor. Process until pureed. Season with salt and black pepper and set aside.
9. Arrange the greens on 4 serving plates. Slice mushrooms thickly and arrange them over the greens. Arrange potatoes and onion-zucchini mixture over mushrooms. Drizzle the dressing over the salads, garnish with the parsley, and serve.
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