Friday, May 28, 2010
When you hear the words "it's the most wonderful time of the year" you may think of the winter holiday season. Snow falling, holiday cheer abounding, hot steaming mugs of mulled cider, crackling fireplaces...it is a wonderful time of the year. But I might argue that it is well rivaled by the current time of the season-the time of year when Farmer's Markets open and the city of Boston becomes a virtual farm land with wonderful fresh produce abounding. All throughout the city and surrounding areas Markets pop up almost like a mirage in the dessert, and the weary office dwellers are able to head to these spots during their lunch breaks or after their day is complete and scoop up glorious fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers, and other various, locally made, food products such as cheese, fresh meats, honey, breads, and pasta's. I love winter and everything goes with it, but these fantastic Farmer's Markets are giving it a run for its money.
The 2010 season began just last week, and while the produce offerings are very much reflecting spring in New England (ie limited selections), what is offered is like a breath of fresh air. Glorious bunches of fresh spinach, beautiful local radishes, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, herbs a plenty...they sit perched in boxes and bins a top the cold concrete like a breath of fresh air. I have been celebrating the start of the season since last week and have picked up a variety of goods. Yesterday I selected beautiful fresh Spinach and cucumbers, last week I picked up Honey Lemon Fromage Blanc from Foxboro Cheese and Lemon Verbena Honey from the Herb Lyceum Kitchen by way of fresh selections. I also scored a container of Pesto Pasta with Roasted Red Peppers and Shaved Parmesan from the lovely ladies at Nella Pasta. More on Nella Pasta in a future post, but I will say this much about them- GO TO THEIR STAND at the next Farmers Market- they are in Hingham on Saturdays and The Pru on Thursdays. GO-do not miss them- I haven't yet made anything with their fresh pastas, but their prepared dishes are incredible. Get it? Go. Ok.
The most wonderful thing about these markets though is that they just inspire creativity! Like the first shoots poking through the dirt's surface, I feel my brain starting to work on overtime imagining all sorts of new recipes and possible creations incorporating all of these lovely ingredients.
Last night I went simple with a fresh salad of spinach, cucumbers, red and yellow peppers and red onion topped with sliced steak and a little Parmesan cheese with a simple lemon vinaigrette dressing.
Monday evening I was a bit more creative and made a cheesy pasta dish by poaching chicken in a mixture of sauteed onion, celery, salt, pepper, oregano and thyme with two cans of chicken stock, and 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups dry white wine. When the chicken was done I pulled the breasts into shreds. In another pot I boiled whole wheat pasta, then drained the excess liquid and added about a half a cup of the Honey Lemon Fromage Blanc, a little salt, pepper, fresh parsley, lemon zest, finely sliced red onion, halved cherry tomatoes, fresh Arugula and then finally the chicken. It wound up with flavors reminiscent of Mac and Cheese, but cleaner, fresher taste to it. Served cold, or even just room temperature this dish had the flavors of springtime, with the comforts of pasta and cheese. Mac and Cheese loving John rated this one high as a good springtime alternative.
No matter where your creativity takes you, or what you envision, the best thing about the Farmer's Markets is that you know that everything you purchase is as fresh as possible, and you are directly supporting the local farms in the area- good for you-good for them. I see no bad side here.
Now -I'm going to go see if I can write new lyrics...
Posted by Boston Food Diary