In 1978, this retail exchange for farmers and consumers became one of the first of five California farmers markets after then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Direct Marketing Act, establishing California Certified Farmers Markets. 35 years later this Saturday morning tradition is still going strong, continuing to offer seasonal, nutritious, locally grown produce.
Vendors also bring regional specialties such as lavender and olive oil, and shoppers are tempted with locally made food like cheese and baked goods. Even the SLO Wine Country Association participates, offering bottle sales of some of their members' wine.
I've been frequenting this particular market for a few years now, and over time I've come to know certain farmers and closely follow their seasonal bounty. I know that during this time of year, just as summer starts to slip away, the vibrant basil varieties that provide fragrance to my dishes, and the summer dahlia flowers that brighten my home, will soon disappear. But with San Luis Obispo County's year-round growing season, new crops will take their stead; like crunchy apples and fall squash.
Here is a healthy recipe that incorporates rich, creamy avocado with the soon-to-be-gone basil, blended with an early crop of pesticide-free apples from SLO Creek Farms. You just can't beat the vibrant, seasonal food that comes directly from the soil of this county, providing inspiration for the kitchen.
SLO Savory Avocado-Apple Mousse
with Bell Pepper-Ginger Relish
Serves 2 - 4
Ingredients & Directions for Mousse:
Flesh of 1 large ripe avocado (yields to pressure when you poke it, but not too soft and mushy)
2 small apples, cut in quarters (or 1 large)
2 - 3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 - 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 - 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup water
Salt & pepper to taste
You can blend all ingredients in a regular blender, but for best results to achieve a creamy consistency, I'd recommend a high-speed blender (Vitamix or Nutribullet). Taste and adjust for seasonings and re-blend if necessary. If the consistency turns out too thin, blend in a bit more avocado so that it thickens. When the taste and consistency are pleasing to your palate, transfer to a glass dish, cover with plastic wrap and chill in fridge for 1 - 3 hours.
Ingredients & Directions for Relish:
1 cup chopped sweet peppers (red and yellow bell peppers work well)
1 - 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
After chopping and grating, combine all ingredients for the relish and stir to meld flavors. Transfer to a glass dish, cover with plastic wrap and chill in fridge for 1 - 3 hours.
When you're ready to serve your mousse—which by the way, is refreshing, energizing, and works great as an appetizer or substitutes well for a soup or salad course—remove from the fridge along with the relish. Spoon the relish over the mousse and garnish with mint or basil if desired.
Dig in and enjoy the creamy texture of the avocado, amicably flavored by the apples and spices, complemented by the zingy crunch from the relish. Add a glass of SLO County chardonnay or sauvignon blanc to round out the dish.
|There you go! A healthy, unique dish that is best served the same day that you make it.|
|Here are a few beauties from today's farmers market. Beautiful striped eggplant.|
|This is the last week for these colorful, animated dahlias.|
|Good advice from SLO Creek Farms.|
|Let's not forget the local wines!|