Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Farmer's Market finds

You know you're a foodie when... So many things could finish this sentence but when summer kicks in, I know I'm a foodie when I get more than a little excited to see what's at the local Farmer's Market in Scotch Plains each Saturday morning. As the season progresses, the choices change offering new surprises each week. Last Saturday, one of the farms was offering gorgeous striped beets and fresh-picked zucchini blossoms. I had to have them!

I bought one bunch of beets - 4 medium-sized beets with white and pink concentric circles inside. And I grabbed a bunch of zucchini blossoms. I decided I'd use both to make a salad of goat cheese stuffed zucchini blossoms with marinated beets and caramelized walnuts.

Sweet tender, roasted beets combine beautifully with the tang of the goat cheese. The blossoms add a bright punch of color and the walnuts add some crunch. For a little extra flare I added a little basil chiffonade and a sprinkling of chopped chives.

And note well, I served this with country-style lamb chops and homemade pappardelle with wild mushroom ragu and my husband's response was that the salad was the best part! He never says the salad is the best part!!

Roasted beet and Goat Cheese-Stuffed Zucchini Blossom Salad

Serves 4

  • 2 large or 4 medium beets (red or striped)
  • 1 4-oz package goat cheese, at room-temperature
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 12 zucchini blossoms
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Walnut Oil (optional)
  • Sherry vinegar (optional)
  • Caramelized walnuts (see recipe at bottom)
  • 4-6 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade just before serving
  • a few chives, chopped for sprinkling
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Sea salt

Preheat oven to 400F. Scrub the beets then rub each with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. Wrap each in a piece of foil then roast for 1 hour or until easily pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

In a shallow dish, combine the red wine vinegar, parsley, and garlic with about 7 Tbsp. of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Peel the cooled beets, then slice each into 1/4 inch thick slices and set in the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, scallion and just enough egg to moisten the mixture (probably about half of the egg). Set aside. Gently open each blossom and remove the stamen and any bugs. Fill each with about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp. of the cheese mixture. Twist the top to close.

When ready to serve, place three slices of beet on each plate, leaving the dressing behind. Heat 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sautee the blossoms until golden, about 2 minutes on each side. You may have to do this in batches.

Lay three zucchini blossoms on each plate. Drizzle a little walnut oil and sherry vinegar, if using, over the beets (or use some of the marinade if you prefer). Then pile the basil chiffonade on the beets and sprinkle with the chives. Finally, sprinkle with some caramelized walnuts and serve.

Caramelized walnuts
1 cup walnut halves
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Spray a small baking sheet with sides. Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Allow the mixture to boil until it caramelizes. When it gets the color you like, turn off the heat and stir in the walnuts. Pour the mixture onto the sheet and allow to harden. Break it into large pieces and put it in a zipper sandwich bag. Smash the caramelized nuts into small pieces with a rolling pin. Sprinkle on salads, munch on them, serve with ice cream...


s. stockwell said...

Oh my, this is so artful and a foodie symphony! thanks, s

Bonnie M. said...

Ooh! That's one way to take care of my overzealous zucchini plant! I'm scared just looking at it. I remember last year and the two foot zucchini that would appear overnight... (shudder) Why, oh why, did I plant it again this year?

Seriously, though, that looks both beautiful and yummy. :)

ladyberd said...

Definitely give it a try - you can use any cheese for the filling - ricotta works well too and that's certainly a good way to stop those overeager plants!!! The rabbits thwart my efforts...

Big Jane aka FatDuck123 said...

wow ive never had these before but i definatly will try them out.
sadly i dont have a locak farmers market where else would i be able to get them?

ladyberd said...

hmmm, you might find them at a whole foods or similar market this time of year. or if you know anyone who gardens, they might spare a few. Another option is to check with a local restaurant that serves them to find out who their supplier is.

Bonnie M. said...

I tried it tonight with ricotta as you suggested, and chives from my garden instead of scallions. It was really tasty! Even my husband, who had his doubts about eating flowers, had to admit they were good. :)

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