July 14, 2009
Beyond the Farmers Market
Slow Food, locavore...we have all heard the terms that refer to eating local, sustainable foods that have not been processed, frozen, shipped and stored for a week before they hit our tables. It is a lovely thought and one that I embrace as much as I possibly can, but there are items that I am either not willing to give up or am just too damn lazy to make from scratch that are just easier to pick them up at the local TJ's or Vons. I love buying from the strawberry farm next to my neighborhood when she is open, clamming on the Rincon when the season is right and visiting the Farmers Market in Ventura or Ojai when the timing is right. Making my own pasta on a regular basis? Nah...been there and done that and it was a righteous pain in my arse.
I am lucky enough to have my parents ranch, which is the next best thing to the farmers market, fish shop & local butcher shop depending on the time of year. "Shopping" at the ranch can consist of the following and many more based upon what he decided to plant, raise or hunt this year: harvesting the late ripening tomatoes from the bottom of his vines to make marinara sauce (accented with herbs from mama's garden), random vines with squash, cucumbers & watermelon that come up intentionally or unintentionally based upon where he dumped the seeds at last year, picking several varieties of oranges, Meyer lemons and Mexican limes (the BEST limes ever!), filching ripe avocados from the counter, raiding the fridge for those gorgeous brown and tan eggs from the 9 laying hens on the hill or digging through the freezer for elk, venison or fish brought back from one of Dads hunting or fishing trips.
Yesterday afternoon, my buddy Tiffany took me to her garden where we harvested zucchini and the most beautiful heads of lettuce...which I traded her for a watermelon from my Dad's garden! Gotta love the trading system, it is almost like being without grocery stores again for a minute....but I digress, back to my original train of thought :)....
I headed home to make what I though would be a fantastic dinner with elk steaks seasoned with rosemary & oregano and served with sauteed mushrooms paired with this out of this world pasta dish my mom created from two different recipes. I could easily go face down in this dish alone and plan on enjoying the leftovers for several days if I can. The Elk steaks turned out to be a dissapointment as they were dry even though still very pink inside, but the pasta was as good as I remember it! Best of all I was able to use Tiff's zucchini & blossoms, moms herbs and an egg from the chickens, so I got to be a partial locavore which is better than not at all!
Cappellini with Zucchini & Zucchini Blossoms
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 large stalk of celery, chopped fine
3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
2 T olive oil
2 medium zucchini, halved and sliced thin
Zucchini Blossoms, chiffonade
1/2 cup lovage, sliced
2 cups chicken stock or broth (reserve1/8 cup in a ramekin)
pinch of saffon
1 egg yolk
grated parmesan cheese
cappellini pasta, cooked al dente
Sweat the onion, celery & garlic in the olive oil until soft & a bit translucent. Add in the zucchini and mix well. Add in stock/broth about 1/4 cup at a time and let it reduce-the zucchini should be very tender at the end of this process. When there is about a quarter cup of liquid left, add the saffron, the zucchini blossoms & the lovage. Blend the egg yolk with the reserved stock and then stir in to the sauce and cook until slightly thickened. Season to taste with S&P (if you use boullion or broth, you may not need any salt). Stir in the cappellini gently. Garnish with basil & parmesan.