Sunday, July 25, 2010

Market Day: July 21
Highlights of this week’s market: cucumbers, eggplants, squash of all kinds, peaches, plums, berries (raspberries, cherries, blackberries, blueberries), corn, eggplants, hot and sweet peppers, tomatoes, kale, chard, salad greens

This Week’s News
This week I lingered over Flats Mentor Farm’s stand. All sorts of greens and herbs were piled high there, from parsley and mint to the less-commonly-found amaranth, pea tendrils, and purslane. I was most curious about the pile of orange flowers labeled “pumpkin blossoms.” Surely, I thought, a mistake had been made: these had to be zucchini blossoms, not pumpkin blossoms. Zucchini blossoms—like these, cantaloupe colored, co
vered with a faint down, and ridged—are one of my favorite summer delicacies, stuffed with feta or ricotta and fried. I’d never seen pumpkin blossoms before. A few questions later though, I learned that I’d been wrong—these were pumpkin blossoms, and they are just as good to eat as zucchini blossoms; the farmers suggested coating them with tempura batter and frying them.

Clearly “coat in batter and fry” is a theme as far as flower-eating goes, so if you do decide to buy a few pumpkin blossoms and try your hand, you could also avail yourself of some of Flats Mentor Farm’s luscious-looking greens and make yourself a slightly more heart-healthy salad to complement your flower fry-up. Pea tendrils, which you don’t always see this late in the year, are a lovely addition to any salad; they add the delicate flavor of fresh peas with the texture of a salad green. Flats Mentor Farm also had purslane, another good addition to any salad. I heard the farmers selling it to a curious customer as a “edible wildflower” which I thought was a rather creative way of saying “an edible weed.” Purslane is a weed, but no less edible for that: crunchy and a little bit sour, it is good in both salads and stir-fries.

While I was distracted by the exotic greens at Flats Mentor Farm (and I haven’t even mentioned the amaranth!), our chefs are paying a little more attention to the wide array of vegetables at their—and your—disposal this time of year. Below, a recipe from Chef Paul for quick-pickled vegetables to enjoy with sandwiches or just on their own.

Paul’s Quick Pickled Cucumbers, Red Onions, Squash Blossoms and Peppers
We are always working on ways to extend the life of the amazing produce that we find at the market. Paul Trombly, our day sous chef has a great solution that’s simple, classic, and preserves vegetables for up to three weeks: the quick pickle. We love serving pickled farm fresh vegetables on sandwiches, in a salad or as a first course wake up call to your taste buds.

2 qts sliced pickling cucumbers
1 qt Sliced Red Onions
1 qt Medium Diced Red and Green Peppers
2 cups Squash Blossoms
1 cup of Salt

For the Pickle Brine:
3 cups organic white sugar
3 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
1 tbls whole cloves
2 tbls whole coriander
1 tbl spoon mustard seed

Toss the vegetables with the salt in a large bowl, then let sit in a large colander for 90 minutes. Rinse and drain vegetables.

Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the brine in a large nonreactive saucepan and bring to a simmer. Place the rinsed vegetables in 2 gallon bucket (or pack in bell jars for a slightly prettier presentation) and pour the hot brine over the vegetables.

Place in the fridge and allow to cool overnight. Pickles must be kept refrigerated and will keep for up to three weeks.

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