Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fresh food from farmers market goodies - recipes!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being the Guest Chef at the Maryville Farmers Market.  


My challenge was to create on-site samples of foods that can bought that day at the market.  I had my pick of amazingly fresh and local, chemical-free produce, plus locally raised meats and pastured eggs...  Dreamy!  And great fun… and I felt so lucky to have such a huge variety of good foods with which to cook.

I created two samples: 
- Quinoa with Fresh Tomatoes, Sweet Green Onions and Purple Baby Carrots with a splash of Lemon Vinaigrette (vegan and gluten-free) and... 

- Spicy Pork Sausage Bites with Toasted Walnut Spinach Pesto

The recipes are listed below…  Enjoy! 

One the best parts of my "job" -- I love it when the kids visit!

Quinoa with Fresh Tomatoes, Sweet Green Onions and Purple Baby Carrots with a splash of Lemony Vinaigrette

I wrote about quinoa a few years ago when it first became a staple of my family’s diet.  This Super Food is so incredibly easy to cook (and versatile) that we have Quinoa Night in our quarterly meal plan.  The following recipe couldn't be simpler.  Use seasonal veggies to create your own quinoa summer salad...  

As fresh as it gets...  

Quinoa for everyone!

3 cups cooked Quinoa (substitute water for veggie broth for an even tastier dish
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 sweet green onions, chopped
1 small bunch of baby carrots (about 6-8), peeled and grated

Toss all ingredients together. Serve on a leaf of crispy butter lettuce and add a splash of lemon vinaigrette.  (Forgo a fork and use the lettuce as a wrap!)

Lemony Viniagrette (inspired by Mark Bittman)
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. warm water
1 small Vidalia onion, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Mix lemon juice and olive oil in blender and slowly add warm water.  (This will help the dressing emulsify.)
Toss in chopped onion and mix until desired consistency.
Best when served immediately but you can also chill overnight.  Bring to room temp before serving.

Spicy Pork Sausage Bites with Toasted Walnut & Spinach Pesto
I used Wildwood Farms spicy sausage for this dish, but if their sausage is unavailable in your area you can add ½ t. of chili flakes to a lb. of regular sausage for a similar taste. Use pesto for dipping sauce for your sausage bites.

Plating yummy Spicy Sausage Bites with Toasted Walnut & Spinach Pesto

1.5 lbs. Wildwood Farms spicy pork sausage
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 t. salt (I prefer Kosher)
½ t. celery salt
2 t. ground mustard
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 medium onions, minced
2 cups of bread crumbs (you can make your own with about 3-4 slices of bread of your choice, toasted well and crumbed with Cuisinart)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Sautee onions and garlic until tender.  
Set aside to cool. 
Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix with hands until incorporated.  (Do not over mix!)
Set aside, covered and refriderated, for about 15 minutes to allow mix to set and firm up.
Measure two teaspoons of pork mixture and roll into small balls.  
Sautee in olive oil until browned well, about 5 minutes.  (Make sure that oil is smokin’ hot before you start!)  
Remove browned bites and drain on paper towel.
Yields about 40 bites

Toasted Walnut and Spinach Pesto
Toasting walnuts is easy and quick and adds a lovely flavor to the pesto.  You can use raw walnuts for this dish but I highly recommend you take the extra step and toast 'em…   Add nuts to very hot pan (cast iron is best, no oil!) and stir until browned and toasted – about 5 minutes.

1 cup walnuts, shelled, chopped and toasted
1 cup of hard Italian cheese (such as parmesan or pecorino romano), finely grated
2 cups of spinach, washed and dried
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste

Layer walnuts, spinach and garlic in Cuisinart or blender and mix until smooth.  
While blending, drizzle in olive oil until incorporated. (You may need to stop and scrape down sides with rubber spatula.) 
Add cheese and blend until desired consistency. 
Add salt and pepper to taste.