I haven’t visited the Minneapolis Farmers Market for years.

The reason why I didn’t visit often is because of the produce resellers (I just want to know I’m buying from local farmers), the flea market feel, and lack of hot food vendors.

Now it’s one of my favorite markets to shop – I’ve visited two weekends in a row.

There’s plenty of parking beneath the overpass on Lyndale. I arrive before 8:30 a.m. to avoid crowds.  

You’ll still find some vendors that sell grocery store produce (just look for the tropical fruits!)  but it’s pretty clear which vendors are local farmers. Compared to the smaller neighborhood farmers markets I usually shop at, the variety of produce and herbs is stunning. The prices are also incredibly affordable. Take advantage of buying a bag of bell peppers for about $6 at the farmers markets instead of paying $7 for a pepper at Whole Foods or a co-op.

Wandering around the stalls curiously gazing at all of the vegetables with an iced coffee in hand makes me feel closest to heaven.

A key part of the farmers market experience for me is also finding breakfast.

Last month I wrote about two of my favorite farmers market breakfasts ever – Melon bubble tea + something from Reverie Mobile Kitchen (an all vegan food truck) at the Northeast MPLS market and Indian food from Akshay Paatram at the Midtown Farmers Market in MPLS. 

I noticed so many more prepared food vendors than I remember in the past. There are eggrolls, bubble tea, crepes, really good looking gyros, tamales, roasted corn, Quince who sells breakfast burritos and baked goods – the smell of the hashbrowns cooking on the flat top will pull you in. Tollefson Family Pork has been grilling brats and sausages here for years.

Here are two vendors that caught my eye:

Miss Papaya

I was drawn to the menu advertising curry in the morning. It’s evident that Miss Papaya is beloved – the stand was busy and the customers seemed to be regulars.

Yes, at 8 am you can order from a variety of freshly-made papaya salads. Some have different meats and seafoods – there’s a regular one and even a vegan variety. The other menu offers a soup, red chicken curry with quail eggs, and mango or papaya with sticky rice.

I dug into a spicy bowl of red curry rich with coconut milk. It was laced with shredded chicken. Shredded cabbage and bean sprouts added some crunch and rice noodles added body. At least five quail eggs bobbed around. I’ve never tried quail eggs before and thought they tasted different than hard-boiled chicken eggs. Not my favorite flavor, but I appreciate how many they added to the soup.

Worth a visit!

Vang Express

The family who runs this stand sells seasoning mixes which I would like to try + prepared foods like spring rolls and eggrolls. Each eggroll costs $2. These are shaped like long cigars. I bought some as they were just placing them into the hot case.  A crunchy savory treat that makes the perfect breakfast along with a cup of iced coffee. I love the eggrolls made with the little glass noodles inside the best. Only pork were ready at this moment, but there might be vegetarian ones, too.

I’ve been cooking lots of beets and beet greens and turnips and turnip greens. These greens are more tender and flavorful than kale.

For lunch this week, I tried to recreate one of my favorite pasta salads Farfalle Con Pesto from Broder’s Cucina. I tossed the pasta with the pesto from the deli section at Trader Joe’s, blanched green beans from the market, toasted pine nuts (keep a bag from TJ’s in your freezer), olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Of course Broder’s makes theirs with grana padano and homemade pesto so extra special there.