Meatless Monday: Farmers Market Bounty

This weekend was the first weekend that there was a full bounty of vegetables at our local Farmers Market, the Cary Downtown Farmers Market. So I really wanted to make something to showcase all the lovely produce available right now. I don’t like to do pasta two weeks in a row, but it seemed like Pasta Primavera was a perfect dish for right now. It’s supposed to be for spring vegetables, but we didn’t have such a wide variety of vegetables in April and May. I guess technically it’s spring until the Summer Solstice on June 21, so I figured I should go ahead and do it before then.

I had planned to use this recipe from a cooking website I love, Serious Eats, from a writer that I particularly love, J. Kenji López-Alt. Except because I wanted to showcase the foods CDFM had, I basically changed almost all the ingredients, so I don’t know that it is Kenji’s recipe anymore.

But I did follow his process. What he does is to blanch each vegetable separately to keep them cooked but crisp and to maximize the color. I’ve never done that when making Pasta Primavera before, but Kenji is right–it keeps the green vegetables really green and prevents them from getting overcooked, which not only delivers a better texture but more nutritional value.

The vegetables I used were mostly from Parker Farm. I blanched:

  • Snow peas (cut into 1-2 inch pieces)
  • Sugar snap peas (likewise)
  • Green beans (likewise)
  • Broccoli (cut into florets)

I also had some English peas from LB’s Farm, so I shelled them and blanched them as well.

I recycled the blanching water into the pasta pot, and cooked the pasta. I used cavatappi, which is my new favorite dried pasta, although I don’t know that I’ve ever had it before this year. Serious Eats did a thing this spring called “Starch Madness,” which was a replacement for the cancelled college basketball tournament that usually happens that time of the year. However, their bracket was based on dried pasta varieties instead of Scollege teams. In a stunning upset, cavatappi WON the championship, besting more familiar pasta types like spaghetti, penne, and rigatoni.

I didn’t participate in the contest because it took place on a social media platform that I don’t do (which is most of them), but I was intrigued. So when I went to the store to get ingredients for a new recipe I was trying for a kind of Mexican version of mac and cheese, I decided to try cavatappi instead. The recipe wasn’t that great, but the cavatappi was WONDERFUL! It is a ridged, swirly, fairly thick short pasta. It holds sauce well, it has enough substance for a good bite, and I like the swirls. So now it’s my new go-to pasta!

Anyway, while the pasta was cooking, I made a garlic and onion (from Parker Farm) butter and cream (from Mapleview Dairy, thanks to CDFM vendor Queen B Farms) sauce. Once you make the sauce, you add the vegetables to warm them up again, and eventually add the cooked pasta, along with a little of the starchy cooking water to help the sauce cling to the pasta.

I added another touch–fresh cherry tomatoes (also from Parker Farm), partially they were selling them and I like them, partially for some contrast in color, and partially to try out a new technique for cutting cherry tomatoes that I learned from the America’s Home Kitchen Boot Camp class on Knife Skills that I posted about earlier (you can access the video here). The woman promised it was a game changer, and it is! Although, to be honest, it took me a couple of batches before I really got the technique down properly. But now it is going to save me so much time!

Finally, I added parmesan cheese (unfortunately, NOT from the Farmers Market), chopped basil and parsley (those were from Parker Farm), and pepper (and salt, if you are so inclined. We tend toward minimal salt). Mix those in, and serve with a final garnish of cheese and basil.

It was SO good! There is nothing like a dish that brings out the best of fresh local natural produce.

Plus, I augmented the meal with a Blueberry Sangria from a recipe by the CDFM’s Chef Mitch that was based primarily on CDFM vendors Altar Cross Farms for the fresh local organic blueberries and Chatham Hill Winery for the wine. It was different, refreshing, and delicious.

So bring your mask and your shopping bags and check out your local Farmers Market. There’s a world of healthy, local, environmentally-friendly food available there to check out (using socially distancing procedures, of course) now that we are hitting prime growing season.


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