Greek Style Lamb Burgers

Lamb Burger 1

It’s grilling time at Central Farm Markets! Everyone is getting their aprons on and their barbecue spatulas out. The market is filled with tons of great options for your barbecue: sausages from MeatCrafters, whole portobellos from The Mushroom Stand, and Veggie Patties in all different flavors from Sexy Vegie. At Bethesda Central, Painted Hand Farm has pre-made ”Euroburgers,” a combination of beef and lamb.* Liberty Delight Farms and Springfield Farm, located at all three markets,  have many great meat choices – pork chops, chicken thighs, steak and more. There is no limit to what one can find when roaming the market in search of grilling options.

*The Mushroom Stand, Sexy Vegie, and Painted Hand Farm are at Bethesda Central Farm Market.

A burger is a beautiful thing – it can take on so many different flavors and toppings. I decided to bring you a recipe featuring ground lamb from Liberty Delight Farms. There is a lot of debate about which red meat is better for you – lamb or beef.  I cannot settle this argument, but a balanced diet containing moderate portions of both is the way to go. So start thinking about changing the way you barbecue…add some lamb to that plate every once in a while!

Lamb Burger 2

This burger uses the fresh flavors of onion, parsley, and mint to enhance the grassy flavors already prominent in lamb meat. I used mint from Two Acre Farm, located at Pike and Bethesda Central Farm Markets. Nicole grows veggies and herbs in her backyard garden and transforms them into unique, mouthwatering dips, salsas, jams, and more. I like using the herbs that she sells at the market because I’ve seen the bounty of her garden and I love her practices. For more about Nicole at Two Acre Farm, read here.

Lamb Burger 3

There are two products from Blue Ridge Dairy Co. that I use in this recipe; Greek Yogurt and Feta Cheese. The Greek yogurt is used for tzatziki sauce, an essential addition to this dish. The fresh taste of the yogurt, cucumber, mint, and lemon in the tzatziki are typical pairings with traditional lamb dishes. The crumbled feta adds depth and creaminess to the burger and brings out the rich flavor of the lamb. All together with some red onion, tomato slices, and spinach, this burger will steal the show at your next barbecue.

Lamb Burger 5

Greek Style Lamb Burgers


  • 1 lb. Ground Lamb (Liberty Delight Farms)
  • 1 Small Red Onion, diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced (Two Acre Farm)
  • 3 Tbsp. Mint, finely chopped (Two Acre Farm)
  • 3 Tbsp. Parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Olive Oil, for brushing
  • 2 Medium Cucumbers (Twin Springs Fruit Farm)
  • 1 Container Greek Yogurt (Blue Ridge Dairy Co.)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • Juice and zest of one Lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil


  • Feta, crumbled (Blue Ridge Dairy Co.)
  • Red Onion Slices
  • Spinach (Spiral Path Farm)
  • Tomato Slices (Twin Springs Fruit Farm)


In a medium bowl, lightly knead the ground lamb with the onion, garlic, mint, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Shape the mixture into 4 patties, each about ½ inch thick. Lightly brush burgers with olive oil.

Light the grill, or a grill plate on the stove. When the grill is medium hot, brush it with olive oil. Grill the lamb burgers for about 12-14 minutes, turning once (for medium meat).

While the burgers cook, make the tzatziki.

Coarsely grate the cucumbers and use a paper towel to drain the excess. Combine the cucumber, yogurt, minced garlic, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl.

Remove the burgers from grill when they reach your desired doneness. Allow them to sit at least 5 minutes.

Toast the bun (if desired). Put your burger together using the crumbled feta, spinach, tomato, and onion slices. Top with tzatziki sauce. Enjoy!

Lamb Burger 6

I brought this burger over to my brother’s house on Memorial Day. I have two young nephews and a sister-in-law, none of whom like lamb. All but the youngest tasted these burgers, and enjoyed them despite their preconceived notions. Watching my nephew, Ben, devour his burger was one of the greatest compliments I could receive.


Heirloom Kitchen

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Christine Ilich lives in a beautiful cottage in Front Royal, VA. She graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City in 1995 and went on to work as a chef in several restaurants in Manhattan.  In 2001, she took a break from city life and moved to the countryside of Virginia, where local farms and orchards and her own garden inspired her to open Heirloom Kitchen in 2005. Since then she has brought her unique vegetarian soups and other seasonal offerings to local farmers markets – including both Bethesda and Mosaic Central Farm Markets!

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The majority of the ingredients that Christine uses in her soups come straight from her own garden (in the summer), and she picks up almost everything else at her visits to the market. Her garden was planted in 2003 and started with tomatoes, zucchinis, squash, herbs, peppers, and string beans. She has since expanded and now a variety of other seasonal produce is growing right outside her windows!

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All of the soups that Christine makes are vegan (with the exception of the summer beet borscht and the butternut squash soups). She isn’t vegan, or even vegetarian. In fact, Christine has a lot of secrets she uses to elevate her soups using meat, produce, and various other ingredients. This intrigued me so I decided to get creative with her and find some really fun ways to expand the flavors of some of her soups.

The great thing about getting creative with different ingredients is that by adding just a few things, you can make a soup into a complete meal. Some of Christine’s “veggie-ful” soups don’t have a protein source, while others like Spanish ChickpeaBermuda Red Bean, or Black Bean Chili do. Adding meat, egg, or other protein helps make these soups even more delicious!  Also, these additions are very easy to make ahead of time, which is great for people who take their lunch or dinner to work!

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The Chilled Beet Borscht is made with organic yogurt, garden fresh dill, and spring onions. Borscht is typically of Ukranian origin and is very popular in Eastern and Central European countries. Christine’s Borscht is pureed, which gives it a really rich texture that does very well on a hot day. I got some eggs from Liberty Delight Farms and hardboiled them and picked up some Half Sour Pickles from Number 1 Sons.* I diced up a hardboiled egg and very thinly sliced the pickles. Adding the egg to the Borscht created this amazingly creamy texture- with the sweetness of the soup and the tartness of the pickle, this meal creates a fabulous lunch for anyone.

[*Eggs from Liberty Delight Farms are available at all three Central Farm Markets. Number 1 Sons is at Mosaic and Bethesda Central Farm Markets and DC Dills is at Pike Central Farm Market.]

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Another seasonal treat from Heirloom Kitchen is the Sweet Pea soup. Made with lemon and fresh mint, this tasty spring delicacy always sells out quickly! To enhance the outstanding fresh flavor of the soup, I diced a cucumber from Twin Springs Fruit Farm, sliced some Sun Sugar Tomatoes from Mock’s Greenhouse (my favorite tomatoes!), and chopped up some Fresh Peppermint from Spiral Path Farm.* After combining these ingredients, I sprinkled the mixture over the chilled Sweet Pea soup. This added texture, depth, and a fresh flavor that popped so wonderfully with every spoonful!

[*Both Twin Springs Fruit Farm and Mock’s Greenhouse are at all three Central Farm Markets. Spiral Path Farm is at Bethesda Central, but fresh mint can be found at many produce stands throughout all three markets.]

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I wanted my final soup experiment to include meat. Christine told me that she loves adding sausage to her soups. My roommate is in love with dishes made with coconut, so we’ve had the Thai Vegetable Coconut Curry soup many times. After some thought, it only made sense to include MeatCrafters’ Thai Chicken Sausage to this soup.* I cooked the sausage in a pan, then sliced it up and put the pieces back on the hot pan to give them a tasty, crispy edge. Add that to the Thai Veggie soup, with its delicious mix of seasonal veggies, and you’ve got yourself another great meal!

[*MeatCrafters has stands at all three Central Farm Markets.]

Stop by Christine’s tents at Bethesda and Mosaic to check out what’s new. Each week she makes delicious seasonal soups that exemplify what it means to turn farm market produce into an amazing product. But come early, she often sells out!

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For another post I’ve done using Christine as an inspiration, check out my recipe for Lentil and Farm Market Veggie Pot Pie!

Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait

Parfait 1

‘Tis the season for rhubarb and strawberries! Since their peak seasons are in sync, they are often linked together in spring recipes. Also, they just complement one another so well. Rhubarb and strawberries both have sweet and tart tastes, depending on how you use them in recipes.

Parfait 2Rhubarb is a bit of a mystery for some people. This is most likely because rhubarb is generally considered a vegetable, though primarily used in desserts. In our area, rhubarb is at it’s peak around mid-to late May. Sometimes a late planting will result in a crop in early fall. The most common use of rhubarb is for pies and other desserts, but rhubarb is also great pickled, or in savory dishes. I even found a recipe for strawberry flavored dehydrated rhubarb stalks – yum! To make things even better, rhubarb is a great source of dietary fiber and Vitamins K and C. Just a few healthy reasons to grab some of the beautiful, red stalks the next time you see them at the market! (They are available at Twin Springs Fruit Farm, located at all three Central Farm Markets).

Parfait 3

And now a little bit about one of those market items that everyone goes crazy for: strawberries! This past weekend, Westmoreland Berry Farm brought their first batch of bright, juicy strawberries to the markets, which sold out extremely fast.

Parfait 4

For this week’s recipe, I wanted to do something different for the crumble. I could have used oats, butter and sugar, or even chopped nuts…but I thought it would be creative to use as many market ingredients as possible. While walking by the Simply Delicious Desserts tent, I noticed their wonderful array of flavorful scones. Then it hit me – I’ll crumble and toast the scone crumbs for the parfait! I decided on a wonderful Crystal Ginger Scone because I’m a huge fan of ginger in fruity desserts. Simply Delicious always has a great selection of scones as well as pies, cakes, breads and other dessert items to choose from! (Simply Delicious Desserts is located at Pike and Bethesda Central Markets. If you shop at Mosaic check out Giradot’s Crumbs Bakery for delicious scones as well.)

I included basil in this recipe because I love the flavor when mixed with strawberries. Adding fresh basil to the scone crumbles gives this dish a delicious, crisp spring feeling that is beyond compare.

Parfait 5

Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait

  • 1 bunch Rhubarb, 1 inch diced (Twin Springs Fruit Farm)
  • 2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and halved (Westmoreland Berry Farm)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • Zest and Juice of 1 Orange
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 bunch fresh basil (Twin Springs Fruit Farm)
  • 1 container Yogurt, your choice of flavor – I used plain (Blue Ridge Dairy Co.)
  • 4 Scones, your choice of flavor – I used Crystal Ginger (Simply Delicious Bakery)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Crumble scones onto a baking sheet, spreading out as much as possible.
  3. Bake crumbs for 20-23 minutes, depending on your desired amount of doneness. Make sure to stir the crumbs every few minutes. Set aside to cool.
  4. Combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, and orange zest in a bowl. Mix corn starch and orange juice, making sure there are no lumps. Add to rhubarb. Toss to combine all ingredients.
  5. Place mixture in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Place in oven and bake until fruit is bubbling and the liquid starts to reduce, 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature (or put refrigerator).
  6. Chop up 4 leaves of basil and toss it with the scone crumbles.
  7. Using whatever serving method you’d like (I just used a drinking glass!), layer the yogurt, rhubarb/strawberry compote, and scone crumbles.
  8. Serve as soon as possible. Enjoy!

Parfait 6

Kid’s Club

Kid's Club 1 Last week, Central Farm Markets re-started the Kid’s Club program that has become a great success at all of our markets. The Kid’s Club will rotate at all three markets, featuring fun craft activities related to holidays, food and more. Kid's Club 2 Last week,  the Kid’s Club kicked off at Pike Central on Saturday and Bethesda Central on Sunday. We decorated flower pots for Mother’s Day using glitter paint, stickers, markers, and ribbons. Kids got creative and made some fabulous gifts for their mothers! Then, the kids got to pick out an herb plant (the beautiful plants were provided by Westmoreland Produce) which the kids planted it in the pot! You should have seen the look on some of these kid’s faces when they held a personalized pot for Mom, complete with a real herb plant in their hands! Kid's Club 3 The Kid’s Club is made possible with the generous help of CFM’s business sponsors, who allow us to bring activities like Kid’s Club, CompostKIDS and our music program to our patrons free of charge. without charging. We encourage you to patronize them!

We do ask parents to consider donating to Manna Food Center when participating in the Kid’s Club – we have a container for donations available.Kid's Club 4 The Kid’s Club will circulate through the markets throughout the season, with different activities each month. Here is a list of future Kid’s Club activities, dates, and locations:

Saturday May 30 (Pike Central): Kids will be working with fruits and veggies as stamps to create fun art projects.

Saturday, June 20 (Pike Central) and Sunday, June 21 (Bethesda Central): Celebrate Father’s Day with Central Farm Markets and the Kid’s Club! Come decorate chef hats for kids to make to their dads!

Sunday, June 28 (Mosaic Central): Get ready for Independence Day! Make fireworks paintings with fun “paintbrushes” like dish brushes, forks, and straws!

Saturday, August 15 (Pike Central) Sunday, August 16 (Bethesda Central) and Sunday August 23 (Mosaic Central): Kids will use fresh, seasonal fruit from our vendors at the market to create a cake in a mason jar using flour, butter, and sugar. They will take their creation home and bake it for a delicious, easy treat!

Saturday, September 5 (Pike Central) Sunday, September 6 (Bethesda Central) and Sunday, September 13 (Mosaic Central): Help us create a banner for next season’s Kid’s Club tent! Using finger paints, kids will make a lasting impression on the banner, write their names, and be immortalized in the Central Farm Markets Kid’s Club family. Kid's Club 5 Put these dates on your calendar and come join the fun! If you have suggestions, questions, or comments, please feel free to email me at Kid's Club 6

Ramp Pesto Salmon & Salad

Ramp Pesto 1

Ramps, ramps, ramps! That’s all some people can talk about this time of year. They grow wildly and abundantly during the first weeks of spring, are considered a spring delicacy by some and even are cause for celebration for our local chefs. Since it happens to be ramp season, I wouldn’t be a legitimate farm market blogger if I didn’t create a recipe using these beautiful “wild leeks.”

Ramps are essentially a wild onion. The bulb of a ramp closely resembles a scallion, but the deep green leaves set it apart from other onion varieties. The smell and taste of a ramp is often compared to a combination of garlic and onion. Like other onions, such as leeks or scallions, every part of the ramp can be used except for the roots. The green leaves have a milder taste than the stem. Ramps have been known to be pickled, fried, sautéed, used in soups or quiches. There is no limit to the amount of creativity a ramp-lover can explore.

For this recipe, I wanted to use the ramps raw. I have read few recipes in which the ramp leaves are blanched (dropped briefly in boiling water) before being processed into a pesto. The theory behind this is that it makes the color more vibrant. However, I am a huge fan of using raw ingredients whenever possible, as this maintains more of the ingredient’s nutrients (ramps are very rich in Vitamins A and C).

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So the question was, what should I do with this ramp pesto? And then it hit me – slather some ramp pesto over fish and bake it that way. After speaking with Victor, the fish expert over at Lobster Maine-ia, I decided on fresh caught wild salmon. Here’s a little known fact for you: Lobster Maine-ia doesn’t just have lobster! They carry a wide variety of seafood and fresh fish from tuna and swordfish to mahi mahi and salmon. They are located at all three Central Farm Markets and will always give you great advice about what fish works perfectly with your dish…which is how I came to use salmon in this recipe.

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One more thing about the ingredients, before I can share the actual recipe; I chose the sweetest sun sugar tomatoes from Mock’s Greenhouse for the side salad. I highly recommend you do the same. Sun sugars are my absolute favorite tomato. They are the perfect balance of sweet and tart. They melt in your mouth and instantly make you want another. I cannot stress enough how delicious these tomatoes are and how much of an asset they are to this salad, or any salad in general. Mock’s Greenhouse carries a large variety of heirloom tomatoes and can also be found at all three Central Farm Markets.

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Ramp Pesto Salmon and Salad

Serves 4

  • 1 Bunch of Ramps (Young Harvests)
  • ½ cup Toasted Walnuts
  • ½ cup Olive Oil (All Things Olive)
  • 1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated (Stonyman Gourmet Farmer)
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 2 Large Salmon Fillets* (Lobster Maine-ia)
    *Weight will depend on how large you desire each serving
  • 1 pint Sun Sugar Tomatoes (Mock’s Greenhouse)
  • 1 container “Boccocino” Mozzarella Balls (Blue Ridge Dairy Co.)
  • 1 container Tasti-Crisp Lettuce (Spiral Path Farm)


  1. Wash and cut off the leaves of the ramps. Save stems for pickling or sautéing, if desired. Set aside 2 leaves for later.
  2. Chop the ramps and walnuts together. Place them in a food processor.
  3. Add most of the cheese (leave some for garnish), plus salt and pepper.
  4. Process contents, slowly adding the olive oil, until they are well combined.
  5. Taste to make sure seasoning is good, add the lemon to taste.
  6. Preheat your oven to 325.
  7. Place foil on a baking sheet. Dry salmon fillets with a paper towel and place them skin-side down on the baking sheet.
  8. Use about ¾ of the ramp pesto to cover the salmon fillets, making sure to cover all sides.
  9. Bake in oven for about 15 minutes, until the pesto starts to brown around the edges. Meanwhile, make the salad.
  10. Using the remaining pesto, add olive oil, a tablespoon at a time, until it thins out and becomes more of a dressing (I ended up using about 4-5 Tbsp).
  11. Slice sun sugar tomatoes in half.
  12. Slice mozzarella balls into circles.
  13. Take remaining ramp leaves and chiffonade them (lay them on top of one another and cut into long, thin strips).
  14. Toss tomatoes, mozzarella, and ramp together with the pesto dressing, making sure to coat all ingredients.
  15. Remove salmon from oven and let cool a bit before serving. Put a handful of salad mix on the side of the plate and top with tomato salad.

New Mosaic Central Vendors

mosaic opening

Last weekend we opened the newest addition to the Central Farm Market family – Mosaic Central Farm Market. Starting it’s second season, the market is located in the heart of Mosaic District in Fairfax, VA. This market is packed with some of Central Farm Markets’ regulars like Twin Springs Fruit Farm, Lobster Maine-ia, Liberty Delight Farms, MeatCrafters and more. We also have some great vendors that are only at Mosaic, and some new vendors who are joining us for the first time this season!

New Mosaic 1Senzu Juicery specializes in cold-pressed juices that also try to incorporate more Asian flavors, such as bok choy, napa cabbage, and Asian pears. They started their business in August of 2014 and are already working on opening up their first store front in Del Ray, VA. And they have joined the CFM family for the season! The juicer sources locally for as many ingredients as possible and their focus is making people aware of the nutritional value of juicing and eating as many fruits and veggies as possible. They’ve got two green varieties – Longevity and Vitality; two citrus flavors – Immunity and Relax; and a carrot-based juice called Energy. My personal favorite was Detox, a mixture of beet, carrot, apple, radish, cucumber, lemon and ginger. I loved this juice, and given that I am a self-proclaimed skeptic of beets, that’s saying a lot! Look out for their almond and cashew milks that they will be bringing to the market soon!

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Joining us from Culpepper, VA is The Farmstand, a family farm that specializes in alpaca wool and eggs. Eva Pullen has worked on this “diversified intensive rotational grazing farm” since 2011. The alpacas raised on the farm are hypo-allergenic and have a “no-itch factor.” They also raise chicken, duck and quail for meat and eggs, and geese for eggs. They are the only Non-GMO Project Verified producer of these products in the United States. The eggs look delicious and the products made from the Alpaca wool – carpets, felts, stuffed animals, and yarn – are gorgeous and so soft! Stop by to check out what The Farmstand has to offer.

New Mosaic 3Zayna’s Delight sells authentic Lebanese hummus, handmade by owner Abra Cosmo. The hummus, a recipe originally from Abra’s mother-in-law, contains no olive oil or other fillers. As many ingredients as possible are made in-house and the assortment of flavors includes some really different varieties. Available at the Zayna’s Delight table are traditional flavors such as Original, Roasted Red Pepper, and Chipotle as well as some specialty flavors like Greektown (with olives and feta), Chicago (with giardiniera, a relish of pickled vegetables), and Dynamite (mixed with Sriracha). I highly recommend stopping by the Zayna’s Delight table and trying some of the delicious hummus, baba ganouj, or garlic sauce that they have available.

New Mosaic 4Tammy Gallik started a family business making salad dressings. With seven children at home,  she’s made her own dressing for her family for years. One of her sons decided it was about time she bottled the dressing, and thanks to that initiative, Balsamo’s Family Kitchen has now come to Mosaic. They sell two varieties of the delicious dressing – one with canola oil and one with very high quality olive oil. Both are delicious, sweet and spicy, and would go great on any salad or as a veggie dip. Make sure you drop by the Balsamo’s Family Kitchen tent and taste this delicious, homemade product.

There are many other new vendors as well. We have delightful homemade popsicles from Whim Pop, featuring flavors such as Strawberry Basil, Apple Cinnamon, Mango & Chile, and more. Award winning Chef RJ Cooper from Gypsy Soul, a restaurant in the Mosaic District, will be serving up unique farm fresh delights at his tent, Gypsy Soul Farmstand. At Heirloom Kitchen, Christine has joined us to sell her delicious, homemade vegetarian and vegan soups that are already extremely popular at Bethesda Central. Also joining us from Bethesda are Mock’s Greenhouse, Lulu’s Ice Cream, and Affinity Woodworks.

This is a market you truly don’t want to miss. Stop by to see us every Sunday, from 9:30-2:30. We look forward to your visit!