Cooking with the bounty of Montreal’s Jean-Talon Market

One of our most cherished destinations in the last three months has been Jean-Talon Market, where we’ve delighted in purchasing fresh vegetables and berries to grace our dinner table.

There’s always something new at the market. In July it was corn that prevailed — buckets of sweet corn on the cob. Then the cukes started to appear along with huge zucchinis each for $1. Now the tomatoes and peppers have taken over along with the berries and broccoli.

One veggie vendor offers different sizes of containers and lets you fill them with a variety of sizes and colours of eggplant or sweet peppers.

Of course, it’s cheaper to buy in bulk but there are only two of us. I bought a small bucket of tomatoes for $5 and counted more than 60 tomatoes. Almost all were in perfect condition. The week before I bought even more tomatoes and a huge bunch of fresh basil and whipped up tomato/basil soup and tomato/basil sauce. The difference? It’s in the thickness. That’s about it.

We visited one Sunday and although everyone was wearing masks we found it was a bit too crowded. The best idea is to park the car in the lot adjacent to the market and bring your produce to the car.
The first 30 minutes was free. Our parking bill for 1 ½ hours came to $2.50. We also take a shopping bag on wheels and this time, Rufus made himself comfortable sitting atop the MacIntosh apples, about 50 of them at last count.

The fresh herbs are a treat and we brought home rosemary, basil, oregano, and thyme. Oh yes and mint for the mojitos.

The vegetables, both raw and cooked, taste so much better than what you get at the supermarket. There’s no comparison in the prices and the quality.

Here is my shopping list for Jean-Talon Market:

  • Tomatoes of all colours and cherry tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Coloured broccoli
  • Leek (which I add to all my dishes except the desserts)
  • Sweet multi-coloured peppers. (My favorites are the long, red peppers. They seem to be the sweetest)
  • Garlic
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Green beans
  • Carrots

That should keep you for at least a week…. or two.

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Here are a few of my favourite recipes made with market produce

Feta Stuffed Peppers

Cut 2-inch “boats” of red peppers (choose other colours if you like). Drizzle with salad dressing (see recipe below)
Stuff with pieces of crumbled feta. Soft feta works better. Add tiny pieces of leek, garlic, and green onion to each one. Drizzle more dressing and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. This dish can be a main course with salad or a side dish or even an appetizer. It can be served warm or room temperature and warmed up the second day.

Salad Dressing

½ cup olive oil
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard of your choice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Minced garlic to taste
½ lemon or lime

This dressing can be drizzled over salmon as a marinade.

Tomato/Basil Soup/Sauce

Cut up 50 or so tomatoes (make sure they’re juicy and red.) Add 1 cup of fresh basil leaves, one sliced whole leek, two or three onions, 3 cloves of garlic, a sprig or two of fresh thyme or oregano or both. A ½ cup of red wine does the trick. If you like your soup or sauce spicier, add up to a spoonful of hot peppers. For the soup add water to cover the tomatoes and other ingredients. For the sauce add less water, maybe 1 cup only so use two pots. Serve with or without fresh parmesan. Freeze in containers for a winter day.

Creamy Cauliflower Curry

Chop up a small head of cauliflower and fry in onion and garlic. Add leeks, chopped onion, chopped sweet pepper, and green onions (scallions) and at least two large cloves of garlic. Add 1 tablespoon curry powder (some chili powder and added turmeric works as well).

Add 1 cup sour cream and gently stir in and heat. Place in baking dish and heat up for 20 minutes before serving.

Baked Brussel Sprouts

Cut off the ends of the sprouts and place them in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle with the same dressing you used for the stuffed peppers. Sprinkle with garlic and chopped onion.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees till the ends are crispy and serve.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Finely chop 1 ½ cups different colours of broccoli. Finely chop 1/3 cup of leek, 1/4 cup onion and 2 cloves garlic. Add 1/3 cup chopped sweet red pepper. Add spices of your choice. I prefer rosemary and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. After you’ve sauté all the above in olive oil for 5 minutes, add 1 cup water and cook until soft.

Add 1/2 cup 10% or 15% cream. Add cheeses of your choice, cut in one-inch squares for easy melting. I prefer cheese curds, old cheddar, and mozzarella. Continue stirring till cheeses are melted.

I know what you’re going to ask me. How much cheese? Let’s just say you keep adding and melting it until it tastes cheesy enough!

This recipe serves four and it’s so rich, you’ll want to have it as your main course.

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