“Playing With Your Food” is a weekly post highlighting a few of the many great uses for the wide range of produce and artisan food at the Salem Farmers’ Market. While we can never predict exactly what our farms will be able to bring each week, we do our best to reflect some of the fun items we’ve found recently and what’s likely to be available for the upcoming week. Hopefully this will give you a few new ideas to play with, and inspire you to try some new things at the market.
Some weeks, I have specific recommendations for you based on well-tested plans and recipes that I’ve made with my farmers’ market produce. This was not one of those weeks. Instead, I basically decided to thrown anything and everything I had into a pan and hoped for the best (“Market Surprise”!). But honestly, that’s part of the fun of the farmers’ market, and part of the purpose of this blog series – sometimes you just have to play with the ingredients and see what you like. So let’s see what we played with this week:
“Market Surprise” Pasta – Version 1
– Dried Shiitake Mushrooms from Salem Spice – you can either reconstitute dried mushrooms in liquid or crumble them up into sauce. I had never tried this before, but I took Salem Spice owner Dave Bowie’s advice and let mine soak in a little warm white wine for at least 15 minutes (I bet Mill River Winery’s “Plum Island White” would be perfect for this). When I was ready to start cooking, I threw the mushrooms and the wine they’d been soaking in into a saute pan together.
– Broccoli Rabe from Heaven’s Harvest Farm – I’d never actually cooked broccoli rabe before. When I got home from the market and did my research, it was not encouraging – there were endless warnings online about how to get the bitterness out, apparently those lovely little yellow flowers I’d been drawn to indicate a plant that’s past its prime, on and on. Don’t overthink it; it will be fine. I just removed the thicker, woody stalks, chopped everything into large bites, boiled it for about 5 minutes, blanched it with cold water, then sautéed it with the mushrooms for about 5 minutes.
– Wild Garlic Scape Pasta from Valicenti Organico – we discussed scapes last week. When I saw this new seasonal pasta variety at Valicenti’s stand last week, I realized that garlic scapes have officially taken over the market (not a bad thing) and I absolutely had to try it. Not only is it delicious, but the tangy, garlicky flavor of the pasta also saves you the trouble of having to slice up any other aromatics. Their fresh pasta usually only takes a minute or two to cook in boiling water, so don’t overdo it!
*Fresh pasta tip: after you drain your pasta, add it to the saute pan with your sauce and cook for half a minute more to let the flavors combine.
– Primo Sale from Wolf Meadow Farm – Luca from Wolf Meadow introduced me to Primo Sale cheese (literally “first salt”), and I am now a convert. I grated some over the top of my pasta to add a little extra salt and flavor to the dish.
The only non-market items I used were the wine and a squeeze of lemon at the very end. Just these four fresh market ingredients made for an incredibly complex and hearty meal! What’s your favorite haphazard market dish?