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To the Market

I can pinpoint the exact date my mom stopped cooking. When I was 15, the Acme Market – located about four blocks from our house – sadly burned to the ground. The whole neighborhood watched, but I’m guessing only my brother and I realized the true signficance of this tragedy. The store, which served as the sole source of our non-perishable foods diet, was the only place our mother shopped for food. With the next market more than a mile away, my mom rarely if ever went food shopping again. And while I would like to believe my mom’s devotion to that Acme made her a pioneer in the local food movement, it would be another 20 years before my parents would venture to an actual farmers market to buy any local, organic food.

Today, my husband and I use multiple sources for our food supply from Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to the Fitler Square Farmers Market to Sue’s Produce on 18th Street – and sometimes the corner bodega in a pinch. But my favorite food destination is Reading Terminal.

If you’ve been there, you know it offers a diverse selection of fresh, local and ethnic foods. My favorite stop is the Little Thai Market where I always stop for lunch when I’m at the market. I love their salmon/broccoli over rice and the vegetable pad thai.  

We’ve renewed our commitment to buying local, organic food at the Fair Foods Farmstand at the terminal and our neighborhood farmers market each Saturday. As such, I planned three meals for the week with food from my recent trip to the marketplace– a white bean, escarole and tomato stew; bok choy with grilled tofu; and a seitan stew with a side of homemade cranberry sauce (something I’ve been craving since Thanksgiving).

This white bean stew hit the spot on a cold night. You could swap out the escarole for carrots and celery or another green if you prefer, but the escarole was a nice complement to the tomatoes and beans. This is best served with a loaf of crusty bread and a nice glass of wine.

Stewed White Beans with Rosemary and Tomatoes (Adapted from Martha Stewart)


Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 pound of white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 onion, 1 half finely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 bunch of escarole
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole plum tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper


Soak beans in water overnight. Drain, and transfer to a large pot. Cover beans with 4 inches water. Add the intact half of the onion, the escarole and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until beans are tender but not bursting, about 1 hour. Drain, and remove onion, carrot, celery, and bay leaf; discard. 

Pulse tomatoes, with juice, in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Heat oil in a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion, the garlic, and red-pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion and garlic are tender but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and rosemary. Bring to a boil. 

Add beans, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomato sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Beans can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.) Serve warm, and drizzle with oil just before serving.

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