Garden Vegetables for a Garden Salad – Baby Zucchini Summer Salad

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Looking at these photos makes me feel all sorts of warm and fuzzy.  Going to a different farmers’ market every week has been so rewarding and it has truly given me a more genuine understanding of and appreciation for the concept of “farm-to-table”.  I see things differently now and I am so much more aware of my consumption patterns and how I eat and cook at home.  Over the years, our freezer has become more and more empty as we make more visits to the market and rely less and less on premade, prepackaged food.  We make a lot more of our food from scratch and our fruit and vegetable baskets and bins are happily overflowing with a bounty of freshness.  Just the other day, we finally got ourselves a little food processor and I am wiggling with happiness at the endless possibilities of food we can make.     

The markets have inspired me and they’ve also inspired the creative juices.  My mum and I have gotten into the habit of brainstorming ideas on how to incorporate whatever I bring home from the market into a meal for the family and it’s been a lot of fun.  I always go into every farmers’ market visit with an open mind.  No matter how big or small the market is, I make it a point to bring home something awesome, something we can use to make a great meal.  The baby eggplants I bought at the East York market were turned into roasted eggplant parmesan melts, the baby potatoes I bought at the Queens Quay market were used into a giant Canada Day picnic salad, and the baby zucchinis I bought last week were used to make this colurful summer salad!  We used romaine, arugula, radicchio, red leaf lettuce, and baby spinach along with grape tomatoes, and our zucchinis.  I loved the cute yellow ones so much and it was so satisfying making this salad because it got my brother to eat his vegetables – willingly 😀  As a boy who isn’t very fond of veggies, he did a complete 180 on us while he was eating this.  He was scarfing plates and plates of this and it made me feel so good when he said to me, between mouthfuls, “I like zucchini, this is good!”.  Score one for Deb 😉

Baby Zucchini, Apple Dumplings & Potato Cheese Perogies – The Farmers’ Market at Mel Lastman Square, Part II


Last night I professed my love for the North York farmers’ market at Mel Lastman Square in my teaser post and I truly meant what I said about it being my favourite market to date.  I went bright and early Thursday morning to start my day and got off the subway at North York Centre.  At first, I got confused and thought the market was inside the civic centre so I asked the nice security guard inside where the market was and him and another nice lady pointed me in the direction of the reflection pond and told me it was held outside on the grounds of Mel Lastman Square.  I stepped outside and breathed an excited, “wow”. 

This was not my first time around the area.  I’ve gotten off the subway at North York Centre plenty of times and I have passed by Mel Lastman Square and walked up and down Yonge St. between Finch and Sheppard more times than I can remember.  But this time was different.  I came out of the civic centre facing east and the view of the pond and the grounds was just…lovely.  I don’t know if it was because it was early in the morning, or because the sun was bright out, but everything looked and felt so peaceful, so serene.  My mind snapped to attention and I immediately started thinking of all the nice photos I could take, all the pretty picnics I could have here…this is such a beautiful area and I could kick myself for not spending more time here.  I know better now though.

It was such a glorious feeling skipping by the reflection pond with the sun out and soft breeze.  It’s the kind of feeling you get when you know it’s just the beginning of many more fun things to come for the rest of the day.  Music was filtering through the grounds, I sang along to Sade’s Smooth Operator (I often think I was born in the wrong era because I like 70s and 80s music more than I like the stuff that’s out right now!), and I could see the white farmers’ market tents up ahead and was so excited to see what this one had to offer.  I love the fact that there are fountains, nice grass, plenty of benches, and plenty of space around the market at Mel Lastman Square.  You can stay here and munch on your food, listen to some music, and enjoy a really nice morning and afternoon here. 

This market is so wonderful not just because of how big it is (it’s fairly large; not quite as big at the one in East York but comparable), but because of the variety of market goodness!  Tables of danishes, pastries, struedel cakes, bread, cured meats and sausages, herb plants, baskets of cherries, bell peppers, baby potatoes and cucumbers, strawberries, wild blueberries, apricots, and so much more.  What I picked up for the day: baby zucchini!  I kept my goal of getting something different every week, and I was so thrilled as there were yellow ones in the mix.  The zucchinis were beautiful and it took a lot of willpower not to walk away with so much more.

There was so much to see and aside from getting my zucchini, my absolute favourite part of the market was the Taste of Russia booth!  The food here is SO FREAKIN’ DELICIOUS.  I love the amazing fruits and vegetables and everything, but holy mother of pearl THIS is what makes me to want to come back every week forever.  They had lots of ready-to-eat food including apple dumpling pastries, spinach and feta phyllo triangles, and my favourite (and my boyfriend’s), potato and cheese perogies with sour cream and tzatziki-like sauce.  OH.MY.GOD.  You have not had scrumptious perogies till you have tried these.  I bought an apple dumpling, 2 spinach feta triangles for my mum and brother and 5 perogies as they were 5 for $2.50.  I had one and saved the other 4 for my mum and brother (my dad doesn’t care for stuff like this) but I gotta tell you, I wanted to scarf down the other 4 so many times throughout the day and convinced myself that it was not nice to do that because I wanted my mum and brother to try some.  Next time, I am buying 15.  Pft, maybe 20.  And bringing a giant tupperware container with me.


The North York farmers’ market by the North York Civic Centre at Mel Lastman Square is located at 5100 Yonge St. just across the street from the North York Centre subway station off Hillcrest Ave.  The farmers’ market is located on the west side of Yonge St. and runs every Thursday from 8am-2:30pm from June 2nd to October 27th.