What I cooked with my farmer's market spoils

I typically plan my week's menu ahead of time. When I am eating alone, I can usually cook one or two dishes and bring them as leftovers for lunch at work all week. For dinner I have a simple cheese plate with crackers and fruit (and a dab of fig jam). Breakfast is either a fried egg with toast, a homemade fruit and yogurt smoothie, or cereal if I am running quite late.

I must confess an addiction to Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds - an industrial-food vice I haven't been able to give up (along with an occasional indulgence in Flamin' Hot Cheetos with Lime). However, my boyfriend made granola from this recipe last week, and it seemed like a promising tool to wean me of my daily HBoOwA habit!

I bought a jar of raw honey from Bill's Bees at the South Pasadena farmer's market last week to use in yogurt, and in the homemade granola recipe. Bill gives customers samples of the various types of honey he offers - I tasted orange-blossom, sage, and almond tree honey. Orange-blossom is a bit floral (think jasmine), whereas almond is complex and almost alcoholic (Bill commented that some people think it's "bitter," but that he doesn't see how honey can be bitter). Sage seemed just right to me, so I bought a 16 oz. glass jar for $6.

I also tried J & J's range-fed beef for the first time last week, and it was so good that this week I decided to get another pound to keep in the freezer. My diet is generally ovo-lacto-vegetarian, so I need a break from meat this week (since it takes me a week of eating some every day in order to polish off a pound!).

Last week after I let the beef thaw in the fridge for a day, I made about 1/4 pound into a burger patty, which I seasoned with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. I grilled it lightly on both sides in my small cast iron pan, and sandwiched it with crumbled blue cheese, sliced tomato, red onion, and toasted Trader Joe's whole wheat bread (the kind that's $1.99 per loaf). I didn't want to use too many condiments or dressings, since I wanted to be able to really taste the beef. WOW. It was delicious. The difference in cost between J & J's and grocery store beef is worth it to me not just for ethical and environmental reasons, but also for the taste.

The next day, I cooked the remaining 3/4 pound of beef into a pasta sauce. I sauteed the meat with chopped red onions, and seasoned it with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, dried thyme, and dried oregano. After draining the fat, I added some red wine, let it evaporate a bit, then added a jar of store-bought marinara sauce (I haven't yet worked up the courage to make my own sauce from scratch yet) and some chopped tomatoes I had sauteed on the side.

I served the meat sauce with Trader Joe's whole wheat rotelli (cooked for 4-5 minutes after adding to boiling water - NOT the 9-11 minutes specified on the package!) and topped it with some chopped fresh basil and freshly grated parmesan. The pasta dish was delicious, and provided me with lunch for the rest of the week.

The prior week, I used the heirloom tomatoes in another pasta dish. The original recipe calls for pancetta, but I adapted it with turkey bacon (I hope this isn't sacrilege for Italian food purists!). The turkey was chopped and fried, then a bit of crushed fresh fresh garlic was added to the pan. Next, the chopped tomatoes are added and sauteed for a few minutes with the meat. I then tossed the tomatoes and turkey with cooked pasta and added arugula, and freshly grated parmesan cheese. I bought a 1/4 lb. bag of baby arugula from the South Pas farmer's market, which was absolutely delectable, warmed and very slighted wilted in the pasta.

You can also substitute spinach or baby spinach for the arugula. Spinach tends to wilt a bit more, making for a different textured dish. I actually have never been fond of arugula in general, finding it a bit strong and bitter - but the baby arugula from the farmer's market was a big winner!


Kerry said...

We have a honey guy here who has different types of honey. I've always wanted to compare some of the side by side! What a great idea!

This post would be great for the Farmer's Market Report. I hope you'll consider submitting it! http://toeverymeal.blogspot.com/2009/04/farmers-market-report-april-27th.html

JMC said...

Thanks for stopping by, Kerry - I'm planning on visiting two of my local farmer's markets this week, and would love to submit my report to your blog!

The honey tasting was fun - the vendor gave me a tiny plastic spoon into which he squeezed the honey, so it reminded me of sampling different flavors at an ice cream shop :)