Farmers’ Market Saturday – 8/20/11
August 20, 2011
It was a beautiful day for the Boulder Farmers’ Market – so much cooler than the previous…eight weeks? My husband and my parents joined me, so in addition to great company, I had plenty of extra hands to carry my bags! And it was fun to show off the market, since my parents hadn’t been to the one in Boulder before.
This week I got a muskmelon, sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, purple new potatoes, red and white onions, an Armenian cucumber, carrots, leeks, arugula, curly kale, lion’s mane mushrooms, bell peppers, baby artichokes, Olomomo cinnamon cayenne almonds, and mini-cupcakes from Street Fare.
I love artichokes, but find them kind of a low pay-off vegetable to make at home. It takes a bit of preparation, can be kind of tricky (at least it has been for me), and then you have to work pretty hard to get a fairly small amount of edible matter. But when I saw the baby ones at the Cure Organic Farm stand, I asked about them, and was told that you could eat most of these whole, so of course I had to give them a try.
Last week I felt lucky to be at the market early enough to get cinnamon cap mushrooms from Hazel Dell, and they had them again today, but this week I decided to get a bag of lion’s mane mushrooms. (They’re the washed out looking white stuff in the picture above). I love how they look – they’re so freakish! Here’s a close up of five of the choicest ones:
Unfortunately, my experimental dinner using baby artichokes and lion’s mane mushrooms was…less than stellar. Less than good. I might even say unsatisfactory. I looked up how to cook both things, and neither one seemed particularly tricky. For the baby artichokes, the site I found said to remove the outer leaves, cut the stems and the tips off, steam them, and they would be done when a toothpick when into the stem easily. I removed the outer leaves, but kind of missed the part that said to go all the way down to the yellow-green leaves. Well, the toothpick went in easily after 10 minutes, but they didn’t seem done. I steamed them for another 2 minutes, then pulled a bunch more of the outer leaves off, but still didn’t remove enough. So the conclusion: stringy, chewy artichokes are not the ultimate addition to a pasta dish (just in case you were wondering about that).
Some lion’s mane mushrooms were included in the grab bag I got from Hazel Dell earlier in the summer, and we were happy with the omelet that my husband made with the mix. But when it’s all lion’s mane mushrooms? Yeah, my palate is not so much into that. This is one of those cases where I really want to like something, and wish I did. But, kind of like the purslane I tried last week, it just doesn’t work for me. The taste of lion’s mane mushrooms is often described as reminiscent of shrimp or lobster, but as someone who loves both shrimp and lobster, I’m going to have to beg to differ here. It’s entirely possible, and perhaps even probable that I just didn’t cook them the right way, but I think I’ll be going back to portabello, shiitake, oyster, and cinnamon cap mushrooms for the near future.
So here’s the saffron pasta with baby artichokes and lion’s mane mushrooms that I won’t be telling anyone how to replicate:
Fortunately the salad I made tonight was quite successful. I wanted to do a non-greens salad for dinner, so I decided to use the cherry tomatoes I got from Red Wagon Organic Farm. Since I had an Armenian cucumber, and a small bit of Feta left, I thought I’d do a sort of Greekish tomato cucumber salad. I made it and let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour or so, which let the flavors blend a bit. I didn’t have any parsley to put in it, or I would have added some of that.
Greek Tomato-Cucumber Salad
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cucumber, chopped
1 Tbsp onion, minced
3 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp feta cheese, minced (well, it worked, so why not?)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ground sumac
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Put the tomatoes in a colander, and using your hands, agitate them a bit to get the seeds to fall out. (You don’t have to get all of them out, just try for most). Set them on a towel or paper towel to dry.
Put the feta, garlic, sumac, vinegar, and lemon juice in a small mug, mix well, and then add the olive oil in a thin stream, whisking the entire time with a fork. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, add salt and pepper to taste, and then refrigerate for an hour or two.