Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I love Farmers' Market

I love farmers' markets.  I also love growing my own vegetables.  But sometimes I need to fill a gap.  (Like today as I was looking for some fresh peaches.)  As I explore each vendors produce and wares, I always learn something new.  And more often than not, I will come home with a new-to-me vegetable, spicy pepper, or recipe to try. Today was no exception. It went something like this:

I walked up to the table overflowing with a white, scalloped edge squash.  I had seen it before, but never really gave it any attention.  It reminded me of flowers or lace sitting in the midst of the more traditional long and slender, bold green and yellow zucchini and summer squash. This one chose to stand out from the crowd with its unique shape and quiet white color.


I inquired of man behind the table, "What do you do with this?"

His response:  "I don't know; I just pick it."

This made me smile as he turned to his elderly mother who sat down at the end of the table, trying to keep cool in the blistering beaming sunshine.  It looked as if he was about to ask her how to prepare it when a fellow marketing man spoke up.  "Oh! Those? My wife knows what to do with them!"  He calls to her and she looks over her shoulder at me and my foreign-object squash.

"Oh yeah, those are really good sliced thin and put in, you know, one of those glass baking dishes and drizzled with butter and layered with basil. What are those? Yeah, patty-pan. That's a patty-pan squash. They're a real mild squash. (She must have noticed that I had my intrigued, learning face on at this point.) So you just slice them, drizzle with melted butter, put the basil leaves over that, and do another layer. Kind of like...". She paused looking for a descriptive word.

"Lasagne?," I asked.

"Yeah, kinda," she said.  "Just bake it at 350 [degrees] for, well, until it is soft and tender.  They are really good that way."

I smiled and thanked her, and turned back to the man at the table, who was also smiling because thanks to this kind marketing couple, he had just made a sale.

Did I mention that I love farmer's markets?  Good old-fashioned real food and real people.  I can't decide which I like better!  Farmer's markets seem to slow the pace of life for a few hours of the day  to stop and realize where our food comes from, consider the work that it takes to get it there, and be reminded that good food (and nutrients) can't be replaced by modern technological ways.  And of course, I love going there to learn about flower shaped squashes.

When I got home, I made the squash as she instructed, but used olive oil to drizzle over each layer, instead of butter.  It took my dish about 45 minutes to bake.  I also cooked some bacon and onion in a skillet and served that over the top of each serving.  I concluded that next time I should just add the sauteed onion and fried bacon pieces to each layer before I baked it.  Rather simple.  Quite good. 

Farmers' Market wins again.

Patty-Pan Squash ready to be baked

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