Why nothing compares to fresh produce from the farmers market

By Jean-Francois Plante, chef and author

I was overjoyed when I found out that the Chartwell team commissioned me to write about vegetables from the market. If you know me, you’ll know that I consider myself a BIG fan of seasonal produce.

For me, going to the market brings me pure joy. I love learning how farmers care for their seedlings and crops so that they can offer us the very best. It’s the perfect time to visit the market and take advantage of the multitude of colours, flavours and culinary pleasures.

As we all know, nothing compares to a homemade dish made with fresh, seasonal vegetables. They make our dish taste 100 times better! Whether we’re talking about Quebec asparagus, zucchini, or roasted sun-drenched tomatoes, the tastes and flavours that they provide are simply mouthwatering!

I’ve chosen two recipes that feature market vegetables, and I’ve incorporated garlic flower, which—in my opinion—too few people know about. If you want to learn more about garlic flower, watch the video* (available in French only) at the end of the article, where I cover everything from garlic flower to black garlic.

Vegetable and garlic flower pesto tian

Preparation time: 13 minutes • Marinade time: 30 minutes • Cooking time: 15 minutes • Serves 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium green zucchini, cut into 1 cm (1/2 inch) slices
  • 1 medium yellow zucchini, cut into 1 cm (1/2 inch) slices
  • 2 plum tomatoes, cut into 1 cm (1/2 inch) slices
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 log of goat cheese, cut into 8 slices
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp. ketchup

Salt-preserved herbs and pesto dressing

  • 4 tbsp. canola oil
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. salt-preserved herbs (herbes salées)
  • 1 tbsp. pesto
  • 2 tsp. garlic flower pesto
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the salt-preserved herbs and pesto dressing. Set aside.
  2. Place the zucchini and tomato slices in the bowl with the dressing. Season with pepper and toss gently to coat the vegetables. Let the vegetables marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  3. Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F).
  4. Transfer the zucchini and tomato slices to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spreading them out so they don’t overlap. Set aside the remaining dressing.
  5. Cook the vegetables in the oven for 8 minutes, turning them halfway through. Let them cool for 5 minutes after removing them from the oven.
  6. Prepare the tians by stacking one slice of green zucchini, yellow zucchini, tomato and goat cheese. Gently flatten with the palm of your hand. Put a sprig of thyme on the tians, place them on a baking sheet and cook them in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  7. While the tians are cooking, add ketchup to the bowl with the remaining dressing and whisk vigorously until you’ve created a nice emulsion. Garnish the bottom of the four serving plates with the emulsion. When they’ve finished cooking, take the tians out of the oven and serve 2 per plate. Season with pepper and serve immediately.

Roasted Quebec eggplant with garlic and bocconcini pearls

Preparation time: 20 minutes • Cooking time: 35 minutes • Serves 4 to 6 people

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium Quebec eggplants
  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled and cut into sticks

Salt-preserved herbs and lemon marinade

  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. salt-preserved herbs (herbes salées)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F).
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the salt-preserved herbs and lemon marinade. Set the bowl aside.
  3. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, flesh side up.
  4. Using a sharp knife, score the eggplant flesh without cutting into the skin.
  5. Poke the garlic sticks into the flesh here and there and brush generously with the marinade.
  6. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes.

Sauce Vierge with bocconcini pearls

  • 1 cup of bocconcini pearls
  • 2 Quebec tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of red onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. small capers
  • 2 tbsp. flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt-preserved herbs (herbes salées)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  1. Combine all the ingredients for the sauce. Drizzle the sauce Vierge with bocconcini pearls over the eggplants.

Bon appétit!