Market Musings Blog

Springtime Barley Pilaf Recipe

By Mississippi Market Chef Partner Kristin Hamaker of Goosefoot Kitchen

Let’s think about barley beyond soup and give it another stage. This mild, toothsome grain is a perfect vehicle for the clean flavors of spring. This can be served as a main course, along with a green side salad and crusty bread, or can also be featured as a side dish to chicken or fish. Source your barley where I do, from my co-op’s bulk department; this way you’ll only need to buy the amount you need for now.

Chef’s Note: You can always use hulled barley versus pearled barley, the difference being that hulled barley is a whole grain where pearled barley has been stripped of some of its properties. Hulled is nutritionally superior and will take twice as long to cook as pearled. Soak hulled barley overnight if you choose to use it, which should reduce the cooking time a bit.

Springtime Barley Pilaf with Chickpeas

Market List

Serves 3-4

  • 4 cups vegetable stock (preferably homemade, or best quality)
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 1 small yellow onion or 1 bunch green onions, diced
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 small bunch asparagus, chopped
  • ¾ cup spring peas, fresh or frozen
  • 1-2 cups chickpeas, cooked
  • Fresh herbs, chopped (your choice of thyme, parsley, oregano, sage, rosemary, and mint)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper, freshly ground


1. Bring 3 cups of vegetable stock (or in combination with water) to a boil in a medium saucepan. Rinse 1 cup pearled barley under cool water, drain, and stir it into the stock. Turn down the heat, partially cover the pan, and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, or until the grain has just cooked through (but still has a slight bite).

2. In the meantime, combine in a small bowl: diced yellow or green onions, minced garlic cloves, diced carrot, diced celery, and a few tablespoons of fresh chopped herbs. Put a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter or extra virgin olive oil. Stir in vegetables and toss in a good pinch of kosher or sea salt; slightly cover. Allow your vegetables to soften and lightly brown, roughly 5 minutes.

3. Snap woody ends off the bottom of asparagus, about an inch or so, and discard the ends. Cut your asparagus stalks into 1-inch pieces and set aside. Once your vegetables have browned, bring heat back to medium and add in chopped asparagus, ¾ cup of spring peas, and remaining cup of vegetable stock. Toss and cook until the vegetables are just tender and some of the stock has evaporated or been absorbed; add a pinch of freshly ground black pepper.

4. Once the barley has finished cooking, fluff it with a fork and drain any leftover liquid if necessary. Add it to the skillet with your vegetables, along with 1-2 cups cooked chickpeas and a little butter (or extra virgin olive, hazelnut, or walnut oil), and toss gently. Serve warm.

Pack any leftovers for lunch or reheat for another supper with an egg on top.

Notes & Variations

  • Substitute the barley with other grains if you like. Consider bulgur wheat, quinoa, or farro.
  • Other spring vegetables to consider adding, beyond asparagus and peas, are wilted greens — kale, spinach, or Swiss chard — and mushrooms.
  • Add color to this dish if you feel so inclined like diced red bell pepper to enhance the rainbow of colors.
  • Add some lemon or orange juice (per your taste), and/or the zest of either. I like to add some fresh chopped herbs, or a little some creamy tofu and herb sauce to finish.
  • Another complimentary condiment for this pilaf is a quick and easy homemade aioli (garlic mayo) or lemon or herb mayo. Substitute yogurt in for mayonnaise if you prefer.
  • Toasted nuts, such as pine nuts, walnuts or almonds, would also go well mixed in. A little shredded Parmesan would also make a fine finishing touch.

Pantry Gold

By Mississippi Market Chef Partner Kristin Hamaker of Goosefoot Kitchen

Even I am often guilty of asking the question, “What to eat?”. Monday morning, in the whirlpool of breakfast and lunch-making, is when the wheels begin to turn on what I should make for the week. I head to the cupboard first: dried navy beans, quinoa, a can of tomatoes, two bags of polenta (how did those get there?). Now, the fridge: the end of some Parmesan cheese, two carrots, half a dozen eggs, elderly (but edible) herbs. So forth and so on.

All of a sudden, the puzzle pieces start coming together rather quickly since I try and keep a well-stocked pantry. I typically buy things on sale (beans, tomatoes, polenta) and resolve to use the ends of this and that. Having staples on hand — pasta, tomatoes, stock — offers you a foundation each week, or rather, stepping stones for planning the meals ahead. Already have an onion, a carrot, and a handful of rice? Maybe soup is on your horizon, with the addition of chicken, tofu, or seasonal vegetables. Perhaps the kindling of a stir fry is in your future, or maybe a pilaf that you can top with an egg.

Read more …

Instant Pot, Instant Oats, Instant Love

By Mississippi Market Chef Partner Kristin Hamaker of Goosefoot Kitchen

Instant Pot, instant love. Well, not exactly instant love. I stared at or walked past this contraption for a full week after untangling it from its box. That was a year ago. Now, there are days when I’ve used it three times to make steel-cut oats for breakfast (3 minutes – see recipe below), chickpeas for lunch (33 minutes), and overnight chicken stock (60 minutes, but it will hold for 10 hours without flinching).

For those unaware, the Instant Pot is a multi-cooker, pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, and more, all-in-one. This thing is quite a sore thumb in my kitchen since I use so few gadgets otherwise. I’m the sort to discourage anyone from buying unnecessary kitchen tools. “Use your hands”, I’m always uttering. But, I’ll confess – I couldn’t resist.

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Making the Most of Citrus Season

By Mississippi Market Chef Partner Kristin Hamaker of Goosefoot Kitchen

We’re still in the heart of citrus season, and there are many delicious options to choose from. Speak with your co-op’s produce staff to learn which citrus is best at the moment and don’t hesitate to ask for a sample! Make the most of citrus season with the two fruit salad variations below – the simple citrus salad is perfect any time of day, while the elevated salad serves well as an impressive side dish for supper.

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Jam Jar Salad Dressings

Presented by Mississippi Market Chef Partner Kristin Hamaker of Goosefoot Kitchen

Making your own salad dressings is simple and easy using staples you may already have on hand. Shake all ingredients well in a jam jar, taste for seasoning, and you’re ready to go!

Maple & Mustard Dressing

Makes 1 cup (lasts awhile in the fridge)

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup (or slightly less) Dijon or whole-grain mustard
  • ¼ cup red wine or apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup real maple syrup (preferably local)

Lemon & Honey Dressing

Makes about ¾ cup

  • Juice from 1 large lemon
  • Zest of ½ lemon (if you adore lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (preferably raw and local)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped herbs, such as mint or thyme
  • 1 good pinch of sea salt
  • Twist of freshly-ground black pepper

Buttermilk & Herb Dressing

Makes about ¾ cup

  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup mayo or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice, cider vinegar, or white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped herbs, such as mint, chive, or parsley
  • 1 good pinch of sea salt
  • Twist of freshly-ground black pepper

Hoppin’ John for Good Luck in the New Year

New Year’s Day is celebrated by many families with Hoppin’ John, a traditional southern stew made with black eyed peas. Some people add a penny or other small trinket to the beans when serving them. Whoever finds it is promised especially good luck in the New Year. Many recipes can be found for Hoppin’ John as there are many cooks who make it; use this one as a foundation for creating your own version.

Black eye peas in wooden spoon Read more …

A Family Recipe for the Holidays

Thanks to board member Hlee Vang for sharing her family’s traditional holiday recipe!

“I love the holidays and the ability to share good, healthy, delicious food with my family and friends. I would love to share a traditional family recipe with you. Bon appétit!” – Hlee Vang

Chicken Coconut Curry Soup with Vermicelli Rice Noodles

Serves 6-8

Read more …

Wild Rice – A Native Minnesotan Grain

Post presented by Kristin Hamaker of Goosefoot Kitchen, Mississippi Market’s exclusive chef partner.

True wild rice is a native Minnesotan food, and we should celebrate the fact. Earthy and comforting, wild rice is highly nutritious, packed with B vitamins, fiber, and protein. There are two types of wild rice, native (manoomin), which is lighter in color and flavor and quicker to cook, and cultivated, which is darker and richer. Yes, it is pricier than its white or brown cousins, but wild rice swells up to 4 times its size, making it a good value; 1 cup of dried rice=6 servings. You can freeze any leftovers, and please save the “broth” it’s cooked in, since it is so delicious and can be added to soup as a base.


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Seconds Count – Using Ugly Produce

Post presented by Kirstin Hamaker of Goosefoot Kitchen, Mississippi Market’s exclusive chef partner.

Scabbed, bruised, punctured, gnarled, undersized, crooked. Here’s to imperfections, and unrecognized beauty. Ask your farmer or produce manager for any “seconds”, the ugly and discounted produce that often gets thrown away.

Food waste statistics in our country (and around the world) are distressing. Food gets tossed for many reasons, and we each play a role, whether it’s scrapping leftovers forgotten in the fridge, or easily overlooking bruised or dented fruit. But really, there are simple acts we can do each day to combat this ill, such as using fresh eyes at the market and in our own kitchens, using and respecting what’s there already, however imperfect or seemingly unflattering.

Here’s a perfect, simple, seasonal recipe that captures this idea, and credits resourcefulness.


Serves 4-6

Get the kids involved in making this recipe; depending on their age, they can peel, chop, stir, or even simply choose which spice to add at the end.

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Introducing: Goosefoot Kitchen

We’re proud to introduce you to Goosefoot Kitchen, a weekly meal planning service run by local chef, cooking instructor, healthy food advocate, and gardener Kristin Hamaker. Goosefoot has recently begun serving as Mississippi Market’s exclusive chef partner. 

Trained in 2005 at Ballymaloe House, a unique culinary school in County Cork, Ireland, Kristin absorbed a truly comprehensive education. While studying there, she had the opportunity to learn French culinary techniques, vegetable and herb gardening, how to milk a cow, and fishing skills in the frigid Celtic Sea. Afterwards, she returned home to St. Paul and started a real foods personal chef service named Farm to Fork, which she cared for and grew over the course of 10 years, eventually selling it on good terms in 2015. Somewhere along the line she married her best friend, started a family, and has been exploring meaning as imperfectly and deliciously as the next person.

In the near future, Kristin will be featuring nutritious, home cooked meal ideas on our Market Musings blog and in our Market Medley member newsletter, as well as conducting in-store healthy eating demos and providing you with delicious recipes while you shop. Goosefoot recipes focus on simple ingredients and healthful food for you and your family.

Read more …