Inspiration: What’s in your shopping basket?

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I was unloading my shopping bags onto the counter and loved the pile with all the shades of greens, reds, and orange. I had just grabbed a lot of produce that looked good at Essex Street Market in the LES putting together a loose meal plan in my mind as I went along. I got okra, Persian cucumbers, poblanos, cilantro, radishes, limes, nopal cactus paddles, red chiles, and sour oranges. It looked like a summer still life, and it makes being (mostly) vegetarian exciting when one has beautiful fruits and vegetables to cook with.

So far, we’ve had cilantro, citrus, and chiles in ceviche, crisp radish and cucumber snacks, and I’m working on nopal and poblano tacos. I’ll probably roast the okra with chipotle and do some vegetable chiles rellenos.

It got my thinking: how do most people shop and where do you get your inspiration? Do you plan ahead and then shop or look for what’s good and plan your meals from there? Do you research before you buy a new strange vegetable or do you buy and then look for what to do with it?

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11 thoughts on “Inspiration: What’s in your shopping basket?

  1. I think: Now, what would taste good with this beer?

    No, I don’t, really. Actually it’s usually more about what my friends who are farmers have picked, and trying to figure out meals around that. Soon it will be Battle Eggplant every third day for half the summer.

    • I think I was more focused on the farmers market when I lived in CA, but I still go with what looks good and plan from there. I can’t wait for Battle Eggplant- one of my favorite vegetables!

  2. Unfortunately, I don’t plan very well and end up shopping on Monday night after work. This leaves me rushed and limited to shopping at the local Kroger… I know you just cringed at that one 🙂 I usually have one or two ideas for dinner then try to get more inspiration in the store. I was happy I read your blog tonight before I went, it inspired me to spend the majority of my time in the produce section. I loved the picture on this blog… so pretty!

  3. I usually wander around until inspiration strikes, although sometimes I have a plan. PS, “LES” reads as “lower esophageal sphincter” to me. Always amazing how different people see abbreviations. 🙂

  4. I think I start with a flavor… When I’m craving a certain taste, I’ll wander around the market or store, read labels and ask questions (often to a certain sister), and then leave with a basket of food and a clearer idea of a particular meal in mind.

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