This Week’s Farmers Market Finds

One of the great things about summer and Farmers Markets is finding new things each week.  Whether it is the first fresh, locally grown, corn of the season, eggplant the size of my head, or more garlic scapes, each week brings something to look forward to.

This week, despite the excitement of high force winds ripping down vendor tents at the market and sending everyone scurrying for cover (Chicago is the Windy City for more reasons than the amount of political hot air), there were some great finds.  Garlic scapes were still available (and the pesto recipe below should freeze well), but there were a variety of squash available.

Let’s start with the garlic scapes:

Beautiful and aromatic, these are a delicious seasonal find. If you see them, snap them up since they are only around for a short time.

Scapes are the flower stalks of hardneck garlic plants, but they don’t produce flowers.  While the delicately snaking tendrils (hence the  other name of serpent garlic) look pretty, they are more peppery and less pungent than a garlic bulb….so don’t expect them to ward off vampires!  But, do expect them to taste great as pesto (put on pasta, top pizza and garlic bread or do as I did and use as part of the filling for stuffed shells), in risotto with other veggies or chopped and mixed in to pasta sauce and marinades.  This is a fantastic garlic scape pesto recipe from AllRecipes.com:

Garlic Scape Pesto

Ingredients

  • 6      garlic scapes, chopped
  • 1/2      cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2      cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
  • 1      tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4      cup pine nuts
  • 3/4      cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt      and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place the garlic scapes, Parmesan cheese, Asiago cheese, lemon juice, and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor. Drizzle the olive oil over the mixture. Blend until the pesto is a brilliant green color and smooth in texture. Season with salt and pepper.

Easy Squeezy Lemon Peasy – and so versatile.

Now for the squash.  There are so many types I am going to try to avoid talking about the usual zucchini and yellow squash.  These are delicious and while I encourage using them creatively (how about slicing them in thim ribbons and using them as “pasta” with some light, oil-based sauce and chicken?  Maybe in the middle of winter when other options are limited, I will play with that and we can explore this further.  For now, the idea is the be creative and try new things while they are available.

OMG lookit!  I found adorable little pattypan squashes.

The pattypans are the small, cute as button, liittle squashes.

Pattypans (also called sunburst squash, scallop squash, granny squash, or custard squash: the French call them patisson, after a Provencal word for cake made in a scalloped mold), are best eaten when immature and about 2-3 inches in diameter.  Available in green, yellow and white, these little buggers are good sources of magnesium, niacin and Vitamins A and C.  One cup has only 20-30 calories and virtually NO fat!  But I’ll fix that.  I’ll add bacon. (And note, in the above photo, the small ones are the pattypans – hopefully we’ll get back to the other varieties pictured)

They are great stuffed, sliced and fried or pickled.

Below is a recipe for Stuffed Pattypans.  The next blog will be my review of trying the recipe – what worked and what didn’t, and how it tasted.

Stuffed PattyPan Squash

From: All Recipes.com

Ingredients

  • 6      pattypan squash, stem and blossom removed
  • 6      slices bacon
  • 1/2      cup diced onion
  • 1      1/2 cups soft bread crumbs
  • 1/4      cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Bring one inch of water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add squash, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, or until a fork can pierce the stem with little resistance. Drain, and slice off the top stem of the squash. Use a melon baller to carefully scoop out the centers of the squash. Reserve all of the bits of squash.
  3. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Remove bacon to paper towels, and set aside. Saute onion in bacon drippings. Chop the reserved squash pieces, and saute them with the onion for one minute.
  4. Remove the skillet from heat, and stir in the breadcrumbs. Crumble the bacon, and stir into the stuffing along with the Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stuff each squash to overflowing with the mixture, and place them in a baking dish. Cover the dish loosely with aluminum foil.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until squash are heated through.

So I am off to make my grocery list.  I already have the squash, onions and awesome bacon (FYI – I buy from Jake’s Country Meats in Cassopolis, MI – it is the best bacon I have ever had.  They have products in a number of specialty food stores in Illinois and Michigan and I am pretty sure they deliver – if not, tell them they should!  As a bacon connoisseur, I would highly recommend their Raspberry Chipotle Bacon!)

Feel free to make your version of this recipe and give me your thoughts!

Until next time – keep fueling that inner Tiger!

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Hello world!

Hello!  Welcome to the CookingTiger blogspot!  I am debating changing the name to CookingTiger Hidden Vegan but we’ll see.   I am an avid hockey player, runner and enjoy other sports.  I am always looking for delicious new recipes to give me the fuel to succeed.  With the local farmers markets now in full gear, I am fully enjoying the benefits of having new and wonderful produce to work with through the summer months.

Garlic scapes I found a couple of weeks ago were turned in to garlic scape pesto.  I used some of the pesto as part of the filling for stuffed shells topped with a low-fat, low-sodium marinara sauce.  Some of it used to top toasted french bread, sprinkled with cheese, of course.

It was fabulous! Cheese could have been bubblier but I was hungry….

This past week it was squash blossoms.  I stuffed them with a cheese mixture, dredged them in egg white with a little lemon juice, and panko bread crumbs,  then flash fried them to crisp them up and finished them off in the oven.  I actually found a recipe that called for dredging them in chocolate!  But I decided to stick with the panko for now.  If I find more squash blossoms this week, I’ll try the chocolate.

OK,not completely meatless, but yummy!

I will see what I can find at the Logan Square Farmers Market (Chicago) this week and write more about that and include recipes.  The whole idea is to be creative and come up with new things to do or new twists on existing recipes.   I would love to have people tell me their ideas for what will end up being the “Item of the Week”.   Sometimes it may be more common items such as rainbow chard (growing on my balcony) or it may be unique and seasonal items like the garlic scapes.

I am trying very hard to make one meal a week (minimum) a meatless meal, but the carnivorous side of me (I am a Tiger after all) needs the burgers and steaks!  My women’s hockey team, the Evanston (IL) Tigers will be playing in Nationals this coming year so I want to be ready.   I am also doing the Chicago Marathon in October as part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training.  The goal is to find balance and enjoy the steak and onion rings, but equally enjoy the eggplant manicotti.  And of course, to end up in better shape.

League and State Champs! I need to fuel my inner Tiger for the upcoming season!

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