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Posts Tagged ‘Copley Square Farmer’s Market’

What a great food year it’s been! I’ve discovered that I do in fact like fennel and chowder (and fennel chowder), learned better ways to chop peppers and onions, explored the wonders of the fava bean, eaten my first zeppoli, developed an unhealthy obsession with Iggy’s Francese bread, and forever banned Vlasic pickles in favor of Claussens. As an aside — seriously? I have been MISSING OUT for years! I had no idea the difference between the shelf-stable, ho-hum excuses for pickles you find in the middle aisles of the grocery store compared to the crunchy, tasty, lip-smacking goodness of a pickle from the refrigerated deli section! If you haven’t made this discovery yet, RUN, do not walk, to your nearest grocery store and do a taste test. May I never eat those things I used to call “pickles” ever again. Pickle rant aside…What’s the point of all this, you may wonder? On to my latest revelation: I like pesto! When it’s done right, that is.

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It all started with the basil, of course. After sampling several vendors, I can safely say that the Siena Farms stand is THE place to get your basil if you frequent the Copley Square Farmers Market.  For one, their bunches are big, full, and include more stems in each bunch than most other stands. More importantly, they’re the only stand I’ve found that give you the entire stem — including the root! What this means is that your basil — kept in a cup of water on your kitchen counter — lasts twice as long as a bunch without the roots.

Inspired by the abundance of basil (and emboldened by my many new taste acquisitions of the year), I decided that I needed to give pesto another shot. I do love basil, after all; it was the pine nuts that made me squeamish before. For this adventure, I knew I didn’t want to mess around. I wanted to go to a proper authority for the recipe to get the best pesto possible. In my mind, this means one thing only: the good folks over at Cook’s Illustrated. If you’re not familiar with them, they approach recipe writing like scientists, doing lab test after lab test until the final recipe is perfected. They did not let me down.

Classic Pesto

Abridged from Cook’s Illustrated, The Best Italian Classics

  • 1/4 c. pine nuts
  • 3 med cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 c. packed fresh basil leaves
  • 7 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 c. finely grated Parmesan cheese

Toast nuts in a small, heavy skillet over med heat, stirring frequently, until just golden & fragrant, 4-5 minutes. Set aside.

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In same pan, toast the garlic cloves, shaking pan occasionally, about 7 minutes. Cool, peel, and chop.

Place basil in a large ziploc freezer bag, and use meat pounder or rolling pin to bruise all leaves.

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Combine nuts, garlic, basil, olive oil & salt in a food processor; process until smooth.

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Transfer mixture to a small bowl and mix in the Parmesan; add salt as needed to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and use within 3 days.

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It was so very, very good. As in, it’s all I can do to keep myself from running back out to the market and buying out their entire inventory of basil so I can make this by the bucketful. I was talking pesto with my mom prior to trying out the recipe, bemoaning how most jarred pestos tend to be overly oily at best, cloying in taste at worst. Not this pesto! Even the resident picky eater of the house liked it, and we happily slathered it on bread (Iggy’s Francese, of course) as snacks in between using it for meals. Next blog post: what we DID with the pesto! Get your food processors out and make some up so you can join in the fun!

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I’ve set a fun challenge for myself: for the entire run of the 2010 Copley Square Farmer’s Market, I’m going to eat lunch exclusively from the market (twice a week on market days). I should probably not refer to this as a “challenge,” as it’s actually the highlight of my week, but this way I can get a sense of accomplishment along with the enjoyment.

It’s not entirely a hedonistic experiment, though:  I do believe in the whole “eat your view” and “vote with your dollar” mentality. So in support of my local farmers and in encouragement for them to keep up the good work, look what I got to eat for lunch today!

It’s one of those meals that’s almost too perfectly simple, just the way I like it. The sandwich, from the Iggy’s stand:  Fresh bread, slabs of Niman Ranch ham, thick slices of cheddar, and butter. Mmmm. I think this may become a once a week tradition.

The other treat you’re looking at (which, much to my chagrin, will NOT be a weekly tradition…) is a slice of wild berries & cream tart from the Danish Pastry House stand. One of these days perhaps I’ll grow that proverbial hollow leg. Until then, this will be a “sometimes” food as they like to say. Today was as good a “sometimes” as any, I believe.

To round out my urban farm experience, all I need to do is direct my browser to www.hencam.com, and kick up my feet while I eat. Seriously, please click on the link — it’s awesome. I’ll wait. Be sure to check out the Goat Cam too.

Don’t you love it? Getting back to the market, though: I picked up a couple things for the house while I was at it, meaning dinner was just as good as lunch!  Check it out:

Ciabbata Bread from Iggy's

Beautiful Lupine from Stillman's

Bread, Shiitakes, Mediterranean Marinated Goat Cheese, and Spring Mix

Saute the shiitakes with butter, thyme, salt and pepper...

...pop open the goat cheese, slather on the ciabatta...

...and assemble sandwich.

Enjoy!

Very, very good. The goat cheese is the “Mediterranean Marinade” from Crystal Brook Farms. A fantastic cheese, but I think next time I’ll go for something more along the lines of a sharp cheddar or a parmesan for this particular sandwich. The goat cheese doesn’t need anything more than a cracker to be properly enjoyed.

Come back tomorrow for leftovers!

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Oh, happy days:  the Copley Sq. Farmer’s Market is open once again! I love the farmer’s market. Being early in the season, the produce is still somewhat light, BUT…guess what I found over at the Siena Farms stand?  No, not fava beans…but fava bean greens.

Needless to say, being a somewhat new convert to the fava bean, greens were a new concept to me.  They were piled up in a basket with a little sign that instructed you to try wilting them in olive oil and serving with lemon juice and sea salt.

Did I try it?  Well, of course…  How could I not?

And how did it go?  Let’s take a peek:

Ta dah!  Success.  And how did it taste?  Well, yummy, yes, but I don’t suppose that tells you much.  Supposedly they were to taste like fava beans themselves, but really, well, they tasted like fava bean greens.  Not like spinach, as I might have suspected, but closer to perhaps fiddleheads or maybe dandelion greens, with a subtle nutty/buttery infusion of fava. I would make them again.

Back at the farmer’s market, I made my way over to the Fiore di Nonno stand.  I actually discovered their handmade mozzarella cheese over a year ago.  Based in Somerville, MA, it’s about as fresh a cheese as you can find in these parts.  Today, however, it was time for something special:  their fig burrata!  Burrata, if you are unfamiliar with it, is basically a mozzarella cheese ball with a soft, creamy filled center.  This particular one was filled with mascarpone and fig jam, making a very sweet burrata.

And of course, you have to see the inside!

The mozzarella was wonderful, as you would expect: fresh, creamy, nicely textured. The burrata overall was a bit too sweet for my liking, however.  It actually reminded me quite a bit of the inside of a good cannoli. I should mention that, while truthfully I’m a good old-fashioned American mutt when it comes to ethnicity, there are Italians on both sides of my family. Add a childhood filled with homemade pasta, tomato sauce, sausages and pizzelles, and I generally consider myself Italian, particularly when I’m speaking about food (which I often do, clearly). That being said, I have a confession to make, which I will say very quietly: I don’t like cannolis. Now, I’m not saying I won’t eat them — there’s a big difference between not liking something and not eating something.  Unless you are my boyfriend.  But I digress. Bottom line, if you’re not crazy about the filling of cannolis, pass on the fig burrata and save it for someone who will appreciate it. They’re rare enough that they deserve to be savored appropriately. Should I happen upon the Fiore di Nonna stand again when they’ve got their roasted garlic and onion burrata, though, all bets are off.

It’s going to be a good summer. Have I mentioned I love the farmer’s market?

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