Walking through the myriad vendors, smelling the fresh peaches and seeing the colorful flowers reminded me just how much I love the Historic Downtown City Market. Bustling with people picking up fresh vegetables for dinner, trying on jewelry and admiring the numerous arts and crafts, the market was the perfect location for Leslie Thomas, a student at the Culinary Institute at Virginia Western Community College, to show off some delicious summer recipes.
Thomas’ menu featured a refreshing summer salad with melons and a honey-ginger vinaigrette, raspberry cilantro salsa and homemade pita chips, and stuffed Mexi burgers and fries. Before each demonstration, Thomas and her cooking crew served samples to the passers-by. The pita chips and salsa were especially popular.
“I don’t like tomatoes,” Thomas said, so she created a salsa using something she does like: raspberries. Combined with cilantro leaves, sweet onion, garlic, sugar and a few other ingredients, the salsa was the perfect blend of sweet and savory. The scent of the stuffed Mexi burgers on the grill attracted many City Market shoppers over to the demonstration to sample the tomato and melon salad — made by combining all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mixing it by hand. All of the ingredients that Thomas used in her demonstration were donated by vendors from the City Market, including Sumdat, Gary Crowder and Martins Farm.
The cooking demonstration was part of City Market Saturdays, sponsored by Haley Toyota, which features free activities every Saturday on the Market from May through September. Other events this month include the Father’s Day Event where families can color a mug and hear live music by the Poison Bottom Boys, as well as performances by Joel Venditti and Health Day on the Market — hosted by Carilion — on June 26.
Raspberry Cilantro Salsa
2 and 1/2 cups of fresh, ripe raspberries
1/2 cup of sweet onion, finely diced (about 1/4 of an onion)
1/4 cup of cilantro (just leaves, not stems)
2 tablespoons jalapeno peppers, chopped (remove seeds and veins if you don’t want it too spicy)
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoons ground cumin
1 to 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Wash raspberries and place in a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients. Place lid on food processor and mix well. After processing, place in a bowl and chill in a refrigerator for two hours or overnight for flavors to blend.
Stuffed Mexi Burgers with Tex-Mex Sauce
For the burgers:
1 and 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 small can of chopped olive, drained
2 tablespoons Heinz ketchup
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 hearty slices of pepper jack cheese
6 onion burger rolls
6 tablespoons softened butter
For the sauce:
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup Heinz ketchup
1 can chopped olives
1 tablespoon fresh minced cilantro
Combine first seven ingredients. Shape burgers into 12 four-inch patties. Fold cheese into quarters and place cheese on each of the six patties, and then place the other burger patty on top of cheese and seal to mold together and seal the edges.
Grill burgers on medium-high heat four to five minutes on each side until desired doneness. Butter the rolls and place them on the grill on top shelf to toast.
The sauce can be made early and refrigerated or during cooking of the burgers. Add all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
To serve burgers, place burgers on the bun, then sauce on top of the burger. Add avocado slices, lettuce and fresh tomatoes, then top with bun.