I had forgotten how quaint the Sunday King Farmers Market can be. Early morning light rain, then shoppers dappled in, as did the sunshine. There was a relaxed, unharried feel. People stopped by to chat with the chef as I prepped and contemplated ingredients. Farmers seemed worn from the weekend’s work, but content with the fact that Sunday signaled the return to the farm for a few days. I especially enjoyed having the time to deliver samples to the farmers to let them taste how their wares were featured in recipes inspired by the ingredients. Here are two of those recipes:
I fetched pungent arugula and crisp French Breakfast radishes with their greens from Groundwork Organics Farm, and brought them back to the Springwater Farm booth where I had my kitchen set up. I love salads, particularly this time of year when the greens are so newly fresh and vibrant. The cool morning was the stimulus for the warm dressing, which wilted the greens just enough that the result teetered between a fresh, crisp salad and a warm vegetable.
- 1 small bunch radishes
- 1 small bunch arugula
- 2 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
- 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil plus 2 Tbsp.
- 6 medium to large shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar mixed with 1 tsp. water
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Taste the radish leaves. The ones I tried were actually more mild and tender than the arugula, so I decided to use them as a salad green. If they are very strong, rough textured, or bitter, as can happen as the weather warms, you may wish to use them in another preparation, such as in a stir fry or a soup. If they are mild enough, clean them along with the arugula for the salad. Slice as many of the radishes that you deem suitable for your salad (save any extra for later, or munch on them while you prep). Place the cleaned leaves in a salad bowl with the radish slices, all pushed to one side.
In a skillet large enough to later accomodate the shiitake mushrooms, warm the chopped garlic with the 3 Tbsp. olive oil. Heat over a medium-low flame just until the garlic begins to sizzle lightly. Remove the warm garlic scented oil to a small bowl, scraping all of the garlic bits from the pan.
Return the skillet to the flame and increase the heat to medium-high. Add the 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and when it is quite hot (oil shimmering but not smoking), add the sliced shiitake mushrooms, and sauté, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are cooked and nicely browned. Season with salt. Add the hot shiitakes to the salad bowl, opposite the greens.
Carefully add the vinegar and water mixture to the hot skillet in which the mushrooms were cooked. Scrape the bottom of the pan as the vinegar sizzles, loosening the stuck mushroom bits from the bottom of the pan. Add all of the vinegar and bits to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and whisk in the garlicky oil. Taste the dressing and adjust to your liking with more vinegar, oil, salt or pepper.
Dress the greens and mushrooms, tossing them together with the warm garlic vinaigrette. Serve without hesitation.
Spring Herb Risotto with Sautéed Asparagus & Morel Mushrooms
The same trip to Groundwork Organics for salad greens yielded fresh herbs – basil, mint, and green onions. Winters Farm had stacks and stacks of bundled asparagus – I just had to have some. Like tomatoes or corn, I gorge myself on fresh asparagus for its seasonally short appearance, then, with the exception of the pickled asparagus I put up, don’t see it until the following spring.
Roger offered some fresh morels to cook with (yeay!), and a peek in my pantry revealed I had just enough risotto. I scampered on over (yes, I did sort of scamper…) to the Twist Wine Company booth. “Chenin blanc?” Chenin asked as I approached. She knows what I like to cook with…and drink! (Incidentally, Twist’s “Shy Chenin” is the perfect wine to accompany this dish). At one point, as I was stirring the risotto, and I thought of the cheese I didn’t have to finish the rice. I ladled in some stock (a quick stock I made with some mushroom trimmings, a few peppercorns, a little of the green onion, a bay leaf, and some salt, since I didn’t have any broth with me for the risotto) and bounded over (faster than a scamper) to Ancient Heritage Dairy. A quick scan of the cheeses available – Scio feta – salty, creamy, mild, this cow and sheep’s milk cheese would pair nicely with the herbs, not overpower the other flavors. The only ingredients that didn’t come from the market were the rice and the peppercorns (even the salt and olive oil were from Farmers Markets – I used truffle salt from Springwater Farm, and olive oil that Jim Dixon of Real Good Food sells at the Portland Farmers Market).
serves 2-4 (entrée or appetizer)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil or butter, plus more for sautéing the asparagus and morels
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced, the white and green parts separated
- 2/3 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- salt (truffle salt optional)
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 3 cups broth (a very light vegetable or chicken broth)
- 4 asparagus, thinly sliced, tips left whole or halved if large
- as many morel mushrooms as you wish, either left whole (if small), halved, or sliced into thick rings
- 1 Tbsp. chopped mint
- 1 Tbsp. chopped basil
- 3 Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese
Bring the broth to barely a simmer. Add the olive oil or butter to a broad, heavy-bottomed pot and place over a medium flame. When the oil has warmed, add the sliced white part of the onions, and cook several minutes, until softened. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for several more minutes, until the grains are coated with oil and have toasted lightly (no color). Season the rice with salt.
Add the wine to the rice, and stir gently until the wine has absorbed into the rice. Add a ladle of broth, stir, and let cook, stirring often, until the liquid has cooked into the rice. Add another ladle of broth and continue cooking in this manner, adding broth as it cooks into the rice, and stirring often. The rice will take about 20 minutes to cook. Begin to taste the rice as it nears doneness. Add a little salt if the rice is very bland, but bear in mind that salty cheese will be added later.
While the rice is cooking, heat some oil in a skillet over a medium-high flame. When the oil is hot, add the morel mushrooms. Cook for several minutes, until nearly done, then add the sliced asparagus. Toss ingredients together and continue to cook until the asparagus is tender. Season with salt.
Make sure that the rice is done but not mushy, very creamy, and not dry, then turn off the heat and stir in the crumbled feta. Follow with the chopped herbs and sliced green onion tops. Adjust seasonings with salt to taste.
Serve the rice promptly, spooning the asparagus and morel sauté over the top.