Meatless Monday – Farmer’s Market Pasta & Balsamic Marinated Beets

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Do you know where your food has been?  Do you care?  I finally got around to checking out the Farmer’s Market at Marin Country Mart in Larkspur (California) and I can’t believe it took me so long.  I have really been missing out! This is an open air market where you can buy gorgeous fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, wild caught seafood, artisan cheeses, flowers and baked goods, all locally grown and crafted.

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While I perused the various stands, my husband stood in line at the Santa Rosa Seafood stand.

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It was a beautiful sunny day.   The only problem is that I had a terrible case of buyer indecision.  I wanted everything, even to grind my own flour!   Do I buy gluten free goodies from Flour Craft Bakery or Granola from Café Fanny?  Why didn’t I bring my knives which could really stand to be sharpened?  Why didn’t I learn to knit? (I almost bought the yarn anyway…)

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This market is also a great family destination with live music, kid crafts and several hot food stands, including one that specializes in grilled cheese. Yum!  It’s open Saturdays from 9am to 2pm. Click here for a listing of vendors and schedule of events. (http://marincountrymart.com/farmers-market)

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Why buy local?
Buying locally-produced food is good for your body, for the earth, and for our local economy.  Because your food doesn’t travel long distances to get to you, it is more nutritious.  Fewer fossil fuels are used in distribution and shipping when you buy local.  Supporting GROWN LOCAL helps keep farming families in business and our dollars in our own communities. (www.buylocalmarin.org )

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To find a farmer’s market in your area, check out the USDA National Farmers Market Directory, an interactive site with information on farmer’s markets all over the US.   (http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/)  Here is another great (and more complete) source for finding farmer’s markets, , family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area http://www.localharvest.org/.

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So what did we end up with?  My husband came home with two kinds of oysters (which I will get to on Wednesday so oyster lovers stay tuned).  After much agonizing, I bought a gorgeous bunch of multi-colored beets, purple asparagus (which I couldn’t resist because of the color) and a bag of mixed greens (chard, kale, mustard and a few I don’t recognize).  I also bought Devil’s Gulch cheese from Cowgirl Creamery and Fig and Black Sesame Jam from Blue Chair Farms which made an excellent and simple appetizer.  Just add crackers.

Farmers Market 25I didn’t have any particular dish in mind when I selected these vegetables.  I was buying purely with my senses and allowed myself to be seduced by their glorious colors.  Once home I decided to make a winter version of pasta primavera and serve roasted, marinated beets on the side.  The resulting dish was very colorful and delicious!  Plus I could feel good knowing I was supporting some local hardworking folks.

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Fusilli with Braised Greens and Asparagus

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Fusilli with Braised Greens and Asparagus

3/4 pound whole-wheat fusilli
4-6 cups mixed greens (chard, kale, etc), chopped and rinsed
1 bunch asparagus, sliced into 1 or 2 inch pieces
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons olive oil (or a combination of butter and olive oil)
4 sliced garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup vegetable broth
Freshly shredded parmesan cheese (optional)
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  • Cook pasta as package directs. Drain and set aside.
  • If your pine nuts are not toasted, heat them in a dry pan over medium heat for a few minutes.  Set aside.
  • Add oil to pan, add garlic and chile flakes.  Cook stirring until fragrant, about a minute.
  • Add asparagus and salt. Cook for a minute or two.
  • Add greens and broth.  Cover and cook until greens are tender, about 5 minutes, stirring several times.
  • Stir in pasta and pine nuts.
  • Top with parmesan cheese (optional)

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Balsamic Marinated Beets

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Balsamic Marinated Beets

small bunch of beets
1-2 Tbsn olive oil
1 orange (optional)
Marinade/Dressing(see directions below)
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  • Cut tops off of beets taking care not to cut into beet.  Leave skin and tails intact.  Wash, dry and place beets in a baking dish (or a large piece of aluminum foil).  Drizzle with olive oil.  Cover with foil and cook for about an hour at 425 degrees.  Larger beets might take longer.  They should be easy to slice with a knife. 
  • Remove from heat and let cool.  Skins will come off easily.  Use a papertowel to keep your hands from getting red.
  • Peel orange and slice crosswise into thick slices.  Section into triangles.
  • Slice beets.  You can marinate them for 30 minutes or overnight, or you can arrange them on a plate, top with orange sections and drizzle with balsamic dressing.

Marinade:  Combine 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 minced shallot, salt and pepper.

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