Avery and I have a new Friday afternoon tradition, almost too new to warrant that name. But for a few weeks now, after I’m done with work and Avery’s up from her afternoon nap, and before Kevin gets home from work, Avery and I head to a nearby neighborhood farmers’ market. From the street, you can see down to Green Lake in one direction and out to the mountains in the other, but the market is hidden away, tucked back from the street in an empty parking lot. It’s the perfect size—big enough to offer plenty of variety but small enough to feel intimate. And the late Friday afternoon time slot ensures that it’s got a good hum of activity, without becoming overwhelming like the crowded Sunday morning market can sometimes feel.
Best of all, Avery loves it. She’ll lean out of her stroller, craning her neck to peer at the musicians—last week a guitarist by the entrance, plucking out reggae tunes that felt perfect for a Friday afternoon, and a jazz trio at the other end. And I handed her bits of the heel of bread the baker offered us after we bought two bagels (destined for Saturday breakfast), and passed her raspberries from the half-flat I stowed beneath the stroller. In both cases, she quickly reached up her chubby little hand for another, and then another.
I also bought a beefsteak tomato from one stall and a cuke from another; slices of these two would top those bagels. As we strolled, I gave a friendly smile to a tired-looking couple carrying a tiny newborn. I can’t believe our days in their shoes were almost a year ago. How is that possible, I wondered? Then I wistfully spotted a mother and her preschooler daughter chatting and sharing an ice cream cone—I can’t wait to do those things with Avery. No, I thought, be present—enjoy these moments. So, instead, I bought a pint to share with Kevin, because, well, it was Friday. I rounded out my haul with a bundle of kale, ribbons of which went on the pizzas we grilled for dinner that night. Avery, meanwhile, hummed and blew raspberries in her stroller.
This Friday, we’ll return to our market, my girl and me, and I’m hoping that the ice cream gal will have more mocha almond, and that there will be some bluegrass to listen to, and that the cherries won’t be gone quite yet. And I’ll leave my mind open to the possibility of unexpected purchases, like the green beans in this post, which became a side dish to our grilled brick chicken last Sunday evening. I bought them at the last minute on my way out of the market on Friday, because they called to me.
I’m so grateful for these summer days and their simple meals and gorgeous produce, and for my late afternoons with Avery and the rituals that emerge from them.
Green Bean Salad with Pickled Shallots, Feta & Basil
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
pinch red pepper flakes
1 large shallot, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
cracked pepper, to taste
1 pound green beans, trimmed, cooked and at room temperature
1/4 cup crumbled feta
2 tablespoons minced basil
About an hour (and up to a day) before eating, in a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the vinegar, 2 tablespoons cold water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the sugar and the red pepper flakes, whisking until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add the sliced shallot; stir. Set aside (or store in the fridge, if making the day before), stirring occasionally.
To prepare the salad, remove the pickled shallots from the pickling liquid; set aside (and discard the pickling liquid or save for a future salad dressing—my favorite!). In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, the remaining 1 tablespoon of the vinegar, and the oil. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. Add the cooked beans to the bowl; toss to coat.
To serve, arrange the beans on a platter. Top the beans with the pickled shallots, feta and basil.