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Friday, July 1, 2011

Inspired By The Farmers Market

Our local Farmers Market has returned for the summer.  For the past three Wednesdays (and for every Wednesday until October), the inspiration for what to prepare for dinner comes directly from my purchases at the market.

Last week was tough, because of the rain.  I was looking forward to making ravioli primavera, but the pasta vendor wasn't there.  I was so discombobulated by the forced change of plans that I found myself wandering around, wondering "What will I make for dinner? What will I make for dinner?"

And then I ran into Libby and her son, and she asked, "What's for dinner?"  And the only response I could give her was "I don't know!!!"

It turned out okay, I bought some wonderful bread and made the chicken sandwiches with satay sauce that I blogged about last week.

This week, I made up for last week's indecisiveness.

Two types of ravioli, fresh mozzarella (so happy to see the pasta vendor return!), tomatoes, sugar snap peas, spinach, strawberries, zucchini, onions, broccoli and basil from the farmers market all managed to make their way onto the dinner menu this Wednesday in the form of Ravioli Primavera, Caprese Salad and Strawberry-Spinach Salad.

Here's the Cooking Playlist:
  • "I've Got the World On a String".......Michael Buble
  • "Everybody Loves Somebody".........Dean Martin
  • "Darktown Strutters Ball (Italian Style)".......Lou Monte
  • "All of Me"........Michael Buble
  • "Stand By Me"........Otis Redding
  • "Pistol Packin' Mama".....Lou Monte
  • "Roman Guitar (Chitarra Romana)........Lou Monte
  • "L-O-V-E"........Nat King Cole
  • "Ha! Ha! Ha! (Che La! La!)"...........Lou Monte
  • "Mack the Knife"........Kevin Spacey

Ravioli Primavera
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups sugar snap peas
  • 1 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half moons
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 red pepper, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 1/2 lbs ravioli
  • freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Lazy Caprese Salad
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup shredded basil
  • your favorite Italian Dressing or Balsamic Vinaigrette
Prepare these two recipes simultaneously!  Begin by preheating your oven to 450 degrees.

Gather the oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, rosemary and thyme.

Have I mentioned how happy I am that I can use herbs from my garden, now that summer is here?  Yes, I think I did, when I was gushing about the chives in yesterday's post.

I was feeling so herb-happy today I had a lapse and stopped taking pictures for you. 

Strip the leaves off the herb stems by holding them at the top with one hand and running your fingers down from top to bottom to strip the leaves.  Finely chop the herbs.

Combine the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and herbs in a small bowl.

Put a six to eight quart pot of salted water on the stove to boil for the ravioli.

Prepare your veggies.

Look at this red onion!  I love the farmers market.

I only used half of the onion.  Slice the onion in half from root to stem, then put the onion flat-side down and thinly slice into half-moons.  Separate the slices into half-rings.

Slice your pepper and zucchini.  Chop your broccoli into florets.  Snap the stem end of the sugar snap peas off and pull it along the top seam so the tough, stringy part comes off.

Place your veggies into a roasting dish.

Add the oil/vinegar/salt/pepper/herb mixture and stir well.

Place into your preheated oven, set the timer for six minutes.

Time to prepare your Caprese Salad. 

Gather your tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and salad dressing.  I used Good Season's Italian dressing.

The reason I call it "Lazy" Caprese Salad is because I'm using pre-made dressing.  You can use any type of oil/vinegar dressing you like, or you can make your own.  I suppose if you make your own, you are no longer lazy.  Gold star for you.

Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella into thick-ish (1/4-inch) slices.

Stack your basil leaves, roll them cigar-like and slice through the roll to shred the basil.

I had to buy yet another basil plant, my herb garden is flourishing except for the basil because something keeps eating it.  I think it's the nocturnal bunny who likes to torment my dog.

Layer the tomatoes and mozzarella, drizzle with the dressing, and sprinkle with the basil.
The six-minute timer that you set for the veggies has probably alarmed, time to take your veggies out and stir them.  Put them back into the oven for another 6 minutes.

These are the ravioli that I bought at the farmers market yesterday.  Grilled asparagus & artichoke and basil & mozzarella ravioli.  Simply divine.  You can use any type of ravioli that you like.

By now your pot of water has probably come to a rolling boil.  Put the ravioli into the pot.

When the timer for your veggies alarms, remove the veggies from the oven.  They should be nicely roasted, starting to brown, not mushy.

You will know that the ravioli is cooked when they start to float in the water.  Before you drain them, save about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid to add to the veggies.

Quickly drain the ravioli and add them to the veggies.

Remember the cooking liquid that you saved?  Add an ounce or two to the roasting pan and stir.  This will help to reconstitute the roasting juices which have caramelized on the sides of the roasting pan.  If all of the liquid gets absorbed, add a bit more.  Don't over do it--you just want to moisten the veggies/ravioli, you don't want them to be watery!

Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and serve.


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