This is what happens when I go to the farmer’s market. My eyes get wide, my senses go into overdrive, and I can’t focus. For some reason, I always find myself there when I have no idea what I’m going to cook. I always figure, and I am sure I am not alone, that inspiration will find me. And she does, eventually.
But what happens first, is that I’m in a booth such as Groundwork’s (quickly becoming my favorite thanks to Chefs Paul and Jobie of DOC), and I stare. I stand in awe of all of the gorgeous organic produce totally overwhelmed and very likely salivating. Exactly like a kid in a candy store. Then, I leave the farmer’s market as quickly as I got there with a bounty of veggies in my basket and about a dollar left in my wallet. They should issue blinders.
As much as I have complained about the cost of produce (I admit am prone to the occasional rant) at the farmer’s market, there are so many reasons to go. The produce is unlike anything you find in a grocery store. Knowing that that crate of artichokes was picked, thrown in the back of a truck, and then displayed for sale for you in a matter of hours, and taste like it, is worth the extra fifty cents. Where else can you shake hands with the farmer who still has dirt under his fingernails. And, well, it’s an experience like none other.
Thanks to the Market to Menu feature where I make pictures of chefs gathering produce for their kitchens for Eater PDX, I’m beginning to become more intimate with the market and the farmers who sell their wares there. Yes, it can get pricey and you can easily go broke (and yes, I still have a problem with that), but, and this is the hope, that those of us who can support the farmers market, do, and that will drive down the prices making it more affordable and accessible for those who can’t shop there.
I can dream, can’t I?
Shaved Summer Squash with Dill
When I gathered these ingredients I had no clue what was going to come of them. I flipped through Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day and came across her Shaved Fennel Salad and thought “perfect!” My version has a bit more going on, but turned out delicious and bright, nonetheless.
Inspired by Super Natural Every Day
2-3 small or one large summer squash or zucchini, thinly sliced
1 carrot shaved
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and shaved
Juice from one lemon
A heaping handful of fresh dill, finely chopped
A couple of handfuls fresh arugula
1/4 pound cappellini pasta, cooked and cooled to room temperature
A handful tiny purple potatoes, cooked and cooled to room temperature
1 shallot, thinly sliced and lightly caramelized
Pepper to taste
Pecorino Romano, shaved
Fennel Pollen, optional
This is an optional first step:
Place arugula in a bowl of ice water and put in the fridge for about an hour to cut the down on the bitterness. It also makes for a clean, crisp leaf.
Toss squash, carrot and fennel in a bowl with lemon, olive oil, dill and salt. Let sit and marinate for about 20 minutes.
Toss the arugula and pasta in a large bowl.
Serve topped with potatoes, shallots, shaved pecorino, a turn or two of freshly cracked black pepper and a gently dusting of fennel pollen.