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Cream of the Crop

The best of Bloomington's Farmers' Market

POSTED AT 10:13 PM ON Apr. 3, 2013  (UPDATED AT 12:34 AM ON Apr. 4, 2013)

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SPRING GAZPACHO

Serves 4-6

5 very ripe large tomatoes
2 large English cucumbers
2 red bell peppers
2 jalapenos, seeded and stemmed
1 small red onion
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup ice plus 1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 avocado
olive oil
salt and pepper

Core tomatoes, peel cucumbers, stem and seed peppers. Combine all ingredients (except for avocado) in food processor until almost smooth.

Serve cold with sliced avocado. Serve in shallow bowls with mint garnish and drizzle a little olive oil over each bowl.

SIMPLE ASPARAGUS CARBONARA

1 pound asparagus, medium-thick
1 zucchini
3/4 cup peas
3 large garlic cloves, sliced
10 ounces angel hair pasta
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons watercress pesto
lemon juice
olive oil
salt and pepper

Snap off the ends of the asparagus. If the stalks are thick, peel the bottoms. Slant-cut the asparagus in 1-inch pieces. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and onions, cooking on medium-low until the garlic is fragrant. Add asparagus and stir-fry until al dente. Last, ribbon the zucchini using a vegetable peeler or mandoline into thin slices, just barely cooking until flaccid. Remove pan from heat.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add angel hair and cook until al dente. In a medium-size bowl, beat eggs enough to blend them. Gradually whisk 1/2 cup of the pasta water into the eggs. Drain pasta and add to the skillet. Add a little more oil and toss all ingredients together with peas. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

While the skillet is still hot, slowly stir about half the egg mixture into the pasta and asparagus, mixing everything constantly. Don’t worry if some of the egg scrambles a bit. Quickly stir the pesto into remaining eggs, and pour over the ingredients in the skillet and mix. Serve immediately with a squirt of lemon.

SPINACH WATERCRESS QUICHE

9 ounces puff pastry dough
all-purpose flour for dusting
4 eggs
7 ounces ricotta cheese
3 1/2 ounces feta cheese
i cup chopped spinach
1 cup watercress
1/3 cup Belgian endive
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/8 cup pine nuts (or preferred less-expensive nut)
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush an 8-inch tart pan with olive oil and dust with flour until completely coated. Roll out puff pastry on lightly floured surface and line the pan.

Beat the egg with ricotta and feta. Fold in spinach, watercress, endive and onion. Then pour into the pastry.

Sprinkle on the nuts and bake for 10 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until set.

Serve with a balanced breakfast.

VEGGIE FLATBREAD WITH WATERCRESS PESTO

For the pesto:

1 cup pecans (or walnuts)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 cups packed watercress
1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
3/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
3 garlic cloves
salt and ground black pepper

For flatbread:

1 whole wheat flatbread
6-8 morel mushrooms (or any mushrooms), sliced
1 Belgian endive, peeled
1/2 cup spinach
1/8 cup pine nuts (or preferred less-expensive nut)
1/2 cup red onion, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Blend all the pesto ingredients in a food processor.

Spread this mixture liberally onto flatbread (pre-placed on a baking sheet). Splay ingredients onto the flatbread in this order: Parmesan cheese, garlic, spinach and endive, mushrooms, onions and pine nuts. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, but this time will vary depending on your flatbread. Just make sure its evenly browned.

SPICY GROWN-UP MAC AND CHEESE

Yields 12

4 cups favorite pasta shape (I like cavatappi)
1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup roasted red pepper (jarred or home roasted), finely chopped
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely minced
6 roma tomatoes
5 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
8 ounces colby jack cheese, shredded
4 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 ounces baguette or crusty Italian bread, torn into large chunks
salt and pepper
olive oil

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to directions. In the meantime, melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the onion, red pepper and jalapeno to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until fragrant and tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat.
Once the butter is completely melted, whisk in the flour.

Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it turns a light golden brown color and begins to foam (be careful not to scald it).

Whisk in the milk until well blended. Cook the mixture, whisking or stirring frequently, until it begins to bubble and thicken. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Whisk in the spices.

Add the cheeses to the mixture and whisk until completely melted and well incorporated.

Remove the mixture from the heat.

Return the drained pasta to the large pot.  Add in the cooked vegetables and the cheese sauce, and mix until well blended. 

Transfer the mixture to a 2-quart casserole dish.

Use a food processor to pulse the bread into coarse crumbs.

Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and toss with the bread crumbs.

Sprinkle the crumb mixture in an even layer on top of the pasta.

Cut the roma tomatoes in halves and stick evenly across casserole dish, brush them with olive oil and season the macaroni lightly with salt and pepper.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the mixture is heated through and the topping is golden brown. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

AUMONIER (BEGGAR'S PURSE)

8 sheets phyllo dough
2-4 tablespoons melted butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 stalks asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into small dice
1 Vidalia onion, sliced
3 zucchini
1 cup fresh morel mushrooms (or any other kinds), diced
3 strips pancetta or bacon
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons chives (see tips)
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 cloves garlic, cut into quarters
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
4 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped (save the stems)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 (6-ounce) package goat cheese, sliced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Sautee onions, garlic and white wine until barely cooked, then add asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms and pancetta until browned — maybe get some grill marks. Take off of heat.

Stir together goat cheese, chives, thyme, pepper, salt, parsley and lemon juice in a small bowl to make a creamy, spreadable mixture.

Roll the phyllo dough onto a dry surface. Remove one sheet of phyllo dough and place it on a dry surface (I put a sheet of wax paper between the dough and counter top). Brush the entire top of the sheet with melted butter. Top with another sheet of phyllo and brush the top of it with melted butter. Repeat with one more sheet of phyllo. Cut the stack into four equal rectangles.

Spread goat cheese mixture out onto the squares of phyllo dough, then place a golf ball-sized portion of cooked vegetables onto the center of each piece of dough. Be sure to wait until they’re cool and strain them of excess liquid.

Gather the sides into a pouch and form a purse, pinching the gathered dough, then tie a parsley stem around the gathered dough.

Place the purse onto a lined baking sheet and lightly brush with melted butter. Bake for eight to 10 minutes until the phyllo purse tops are golden brown and crispy.
Remove from oven and let cool. Serve warm.

 

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