Market Fresh for Spring

by Chef Golda Ewalt

Seasonal produce, live music, local art and much more at the Peoria Riverfront Market...

Changes are happening on the Peoria riverfront. The RiverFront Village platform has come down, and Sharon Gramm, Peoria RiverFront Market manager, reports that the market is prepared to work around any construction happening this summer. She anticipates more vendors will be located along the river behind the former River Station.

The market kicks off the season on May 19th and runs through September 29th, with an average of 4,500 people visiting every Saturday morning. Besides an incredible selection of the freshest produce in central Illinois, the market features live music, made-to-order omelets, and recipe samples featuring seasonal produce from the market.

Another attraction is the Heart of Illinois Professional Chef Association’s annual Farmer’s Market Chopped Competition, held on the first and third Saturdays of the month during market season. Watch local chefs go head to head creating culinary dishes using ingredients from the market (and one mystery ingredient). They start shopping at 9:40am and cooking begins at 10:00am—with just 35 minutes to craft a dish reflecting the flavors of the seasonal produce. Samples of the chefs’ creations are provided to the audience on a first-come first-serve basis. The Chopped finale takes place on September 15th—one talented chef will become the 2018 Chopped Champion!

The two recipes featured here include produce you can find at the market early in the season: asparagus, strawberries and rhubarb. So come out to the market, meet local farmers and artists, listen to some music, try some incredible fruits and vegetables, and enjoy the riverfront!

Asparagus Caprese Salad
2 cups cooked asparagus, cut into 1½” pieces
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1¼ cups fresh mozzarella, cubed
½ cup onion, diced
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt

1. In a large bowl, combine the cooked asparagus, tomatoes, mozzarella, onion and basil.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper and salt.
3. Drizzle the dressing over the salad; gently toss to coat.

Makes 6 servings. Recipe provided by Ashley Simper

The Strawberry Rhubarb Fizz
2 Tablespoons strawberry jam
4 fresh strawberries
2-inch piece fresh rhubarb from a large stalk, thinly sliced, plus 2 spears for garnish
1½ ounces fresh lemon juice
3 shots vodka, 1½ ounce each
Club soda

1. Add the strawberry jam, strawberries, sliced rhubarb and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker.
2. Muddle the ingredients in the bottom of the shaker until thoroughly crushed.
3. Add the vodka and ice to above the level of the liquids and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
4. Strain mixture into two Collins glasses containing ice cubes, top with club soda and garnish with spears of rhubarb.

Makes 2 drinks. Recipe adapted from Shake by Eric Prum and Josh Williams. a&s