Sunday, June 28, 2009

What's fresh in the farmers market

This weekend I found pea spouts, cherry tomato, arugula (or rocket) and strawberries ripe and ready to eat. I also found Jason Franey of Canlis in the Ask the Chef booth at the U-District Farmers Market dishing out free recipe tips. I asked him about what to eat with the rocket and took his advice to pair it with the strawberries in a salad.

Primi - Rocket, strawberry and walnut salad

In this simple salad, the peppery bite of the rocket complements the bursting sweetness of the strawberries. Combine equal amounts of arugula and strawberries. When you toss both into a large mixing bowl you'll see how you want to make. To make approximately three or four small servings use about a cup or more of each. Next, toss in a handful or more of toasted nuts. I used walnuts.

For the dressing, I whipped up a sherry vinaigrette using instructions from Mark Bitman's How to Cook Everything. To make enough for approximately three or four small servings: Combine 2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar (I used Jerez sherry vinegar), one-quarter teaspoon coarse sea salt, 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and one-half teaspoon minced shallots. Whisk together all ingredients. Taste and adjust to your preference.

Combine the arugula, strawberries and nuts with the dressing and toss until coated. Add more salt and fresh-cracked pepper if needed. Finish with fresh-grated parmagiano regiano or crumbled bleu or goat cheese.

Secondi - Penne with cherry tomato, prosciutto and pea sprouts

Tomatoes in the farmers market are the real start of summer for me. The bright yellow and red cherry tomatoes for sale now are the color of summer; the sweet, tangy juices are the taste of summer. Here's a simple way to enjoy summer.

Prepare four servings of penne pasta according to directions. Adding a generous pinch of salt to the boiling water really does wonders. Reserve about a quarter-cup of the cooked pasta water before draining the pasta.

Take a pint of cherry tomatoes and cut each tomato in half. Take a few garlic cloves, let's say three to six cloves, crush them and remove the skins. Heat a saute pan and add approximately 2 Tablespoons or so of extra virgin oil. Add the crushed cloves to the hot oil and saute them until they begin to blond and then remove them. Add the cherry tomatoes and saute them. When they start to soften and release their juice, add about six ounces of diced prosciutto. Simmer until the liquid starts to thicken, then add the pasta water and continue to simmer until the liquid reduces until thickened. Turn off the heat and add the pasta. Toss gently until the pasta is thoroughly coated. Season with salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.

To finish, add a generous handful of fresh pea sprouts on top of each serving and fresh-grated parmagiano regiano.

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