The Farmer’s Table – Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad

Last Saturday’s trip to the Farmer’s market was a hasty one. I had a busy morning so when I looked up at the clock, I realized that I only had about 20 minutes left before the stalls were to be be packed up for the day. Cloth bag in one hand, my son’s hand in the other, we bolted out the door and headed for the market. When we arrived, some farmer’s had already started to pack their vegetables and fruits into cardboard boxes. Vans with their backs open were strategically parked for easy loading. I decided to head to my favorite stall first. The farmer with the brimmed hat was talking to a customer. As usual, he had a big smile on his face and was in no hurry to leave. Asparagus and bright yellow and green zucchini  were neatly piled on a table as were the last of the June strawberries.New potatoes still smudged with the dark, field soil were spilling out of green cardboard quarts. I decided to buy some thin asparagus spears, zucchini, potatoes and 2 quarts of strawberries. I chatted briefly with the farmer who informed me that the summer sweet corn would make it’s appearance in 2 weeks. I thanked him and quickly moved onto another stall selling peas, mini peppers, plump, purple eggplant and ripe grape tomatoes. Stuffing it all into the bag,I was already thinking of how to use the vegetables and berries. The last stop we made was the “mushroom lady”. I was drawn to the earthy aroma of portobello, button and oyster mushrooms. I  decided to try a pale pink variety of oyster mushroom. The delicate frills of this particular fungi, with its striped gills reminded me of the sea. I figured the simplest way to capture all its flavor was to saute it in butter and grape-seed oil, then finish with a splash of white balsamic vinegar and parsley. This would be delicious on a bed of greens.
When I got home, I sliced some of the vegetables and marinated them in olive oil, salt and pepper. These were to be grilled later. The berries topped up a simple almond sponge cake, served warm with real whipped cream and the mushroom sat on the counter waiting for prep. That evening, we were heading to a friend’s house for dinner so I quickly assembled a grilled vegetable pasta salad to share with everyone.
© 2011 Ann Ivy Male

The Farmer’s Table
Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad

Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad

400 grams cooked spiral pasta
Grilled Vegetables : eggplant,asparagus, red and yellow zucchini, sweet mini yellow and red peppers
Fresh peas
Ripe grape tomatoes
(Optional  : Goat’s Cheese can be added to this salad)

Vinaigrette – Extra Virgin Olive oil, white balsamic vinegar,  Dijon mustard, olive tepenade, chives, fresh basil, salt and cracked black pepper.

Assemble pasta and vegetables in a bowl, toss in vinaigrette and sprinkle with chives and basil.
Serve warm or at room temperature

The Farmer’s Table – Strawberry/ Rhubarb Compote

Sweet “in season” Strawberries

Our little Farmer’s Market opened on June 4th…..if I recall, the day was cold,rainy and windy with lightening clouds darkening the sky. In spite of this inclement weather, it was encouraging to find a half dozen stalls with their proud owners huddled under tents waiting to sell their home grown produce. My favorite farmer is a tall gentleman who always wears a leather, brimmed farmer’s hat and jeans. He’s usually there with one of his teen-age kids and he always has a warm smile on his face.
On this particular week-end his tables were loaded with fresh young asparagus, red rhubarb,golden honey and tiny baskets of plump, sweet strawberries….my nose was immediately drawn to his stall because of the  strong,fragrant “in season” strawberries.
I bought a bunch of rhubarb and 2 pints strawberries to take home and stew into a warm delicious compote. I couldn’t think of anything better to savour on a damp, miserable, rainy day.
Our local farmers work so diligently to bring us quality food, the least we can do is support them and in return I guarantee, you will think twice about buying strawberries in a plastic carton in the dead of winter.
Strawberry/Rhubarb Compote
5 fresh rhubarb stalks cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
2 pints farm fresh strawberries sliced in half.
about 1/4 cup raw sugar or honey ( more or less depending on taste)
pinch of salt and a dash of vanilla extract
Simmer all the ingredients in a saucepan, add a touch of water or juice  to the mix until the fruit is soft and well blended. Serve plain or over french vanilla ice cream.
Keep checking back as I write about what else I stumble upon this summer at the Farmer’s Table.

© 2011Ann Ivy Male