Monthly Archives: August 2010

Pot Luck to Go

This is my final blog for the Loving Local Blogathon. If you didn’t read any of my posts earlier this week, the Loving Local blogathon coincides with Massachusetts Farmers Market week, which ends tomorrow, Saturday August 28. The blogathon, spearheaded by In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens, is to promote awareness and enthusiasm for locally produced food and to raise money for Mass Farmers’ Markets.

The sun finally came out and I still have quite a bit of the vegetables from my trip to the Lexington Farmers’ Market on Tuesday. Tonight, I was going to a end-of-summer get-together with my colleagues from work. The hostess is a fabulous cook, usually making Indian dishes.

I didn’t want to arrive emptyhanded, so I decided to bring a dish. It had to be something I could prepare before I left for work, but also something that would taste fresh at the end of the day. After browsing lots of cookbooks, I put together pieces of a few different recipes to come up with a pasta salad with fresh summer vegetables with an lime-peanut dressing to give it an Asian-inspired flair. All the vegetables were either from Tuesday’s market or from a local farmstand. I also added a handful of basil from my own backyard garden.

I thought it worked out well. I tossed the cooked pasta with some oil so it wouldn’t clump together during the day. I cooked and chopped the vegetables and stored them in a separate container. I put the chopped peanuts in another container and the dressing in a jar. All of this fit into a large canvas bag that I could stash in the office refrigerator for the day, then carry to the party and toss together there.

I used the vegetables I had on hand: string beans, corn on the cob, peppers, scallions, and cucumbers. You should definitely take a cue from what is fresh right now.

Asian-Inspired Pasta Salad with Summer Vegetables
Serves 8-10 as a side dish (make half for less people)

1 lb rotini pasta
1 Tbsp oil
1 cucumber, seeded and diced (peeled or unpeeled as you prefer)
2 ears corn (cook, then remove the kernels)
1/4 lb string beans (green, purple, wax, or any combination), cut into 1-inch pieces, cooked
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 scallions, sliced thin
1/3 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped


  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1½ Tbsp peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1½ Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1½ Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1½ tsp brown sugar
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • Salt to taste

Combine all the dressing ingredients in the blender and process until smooth.

Boil a large pot of water, and cook the pasta until al dente (about 10 minutes). Drain and toss with 1 Tbsp oil.

Toss the pasta with the chopped vegetables. Pour the dressing over the pasta and toss well.

Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.


A Rainy Day at the Farmers Market

The weather today was frightful for an outdoor market. However, there is a bright side! Even though I left work “early”, I couldn’t get away until after 5. That means I didn’t reach the Lexington Farmers’ Market until there was less than an hour before closing. Usually that means I will score whatever is at its peak, but it will be hit-or-miss for anything special or not so plentiful.

The weather definitely worked in my favor today! I was suited up in waterproof sneakers, a jacket, and my Boston Red Sox baseball cap, so I was reasonably protected from the rain. It’s just water, after all, and my curly hair is always improved by a dose of rainwater.

First stop was Charlton Orchards where I picked up more plums. Last week, I bought a pint which Howard said wasn’t enough. Today, I bought a pound each of the sweet tiny purple plums and the larger, but also delicious, yellow plums. The farmer said this was his last crate of purple plums for the season.

Next stop was the SwissBakers tent. Our favorites here are the Choco Weggli and the pretzel rolls. By the time I usually get to the market, they are sold out of these. I knew the market had been slow when I was able to buy all the chocolate rolls I wanted. They didn’t have pretzel rolls, but had long pretzel sticks, which are almost as good. What a treat!

I visited our favorite farmer, Ellery, at Blue Heron Farm. She didn’t have a lot on offer, but I picked up a bunch of scallions, a bunch of fresh Italian parsley, and some Japanese turnips, all organic. I hadn’t see the turnips anywhere these summer. They are a real favorite. We eat them sliced raw. They have the earthy flavor of root vegetables, but are sweet and crunchy.

My purchases were rounded out at Stillman’s Farm. They had plenty of corn, and I selected a baker’s dozen. I also restocked the tomato supply and added some sweet red peppers, a few pounds of potatoes (both red and Yukon Gold), and three different colors of beans (wax/yellow, green, and purple).

My final stop was the Market Managers’ tent, where I entered the raffle I mentioned in yesterday’s post. With the lower-than-usual turnout at today’s market due to the weather, I thought my chances of winning were increased. (I almost never win raffles or contests.)

For dinner, we had what Howard calls a “grazing dinner”, which is a simple meal of fresh vegetables and assorted odds and ends we have in the refrigerator or pantry. Tonight, we dined on fresh ears of corn, steamed beans, and an impromptu bread salad.

For the bread salad, I tossed a few sliced Blue Heron Farm scallions, a diced Stillman’s Farm red pepper, a variety of tomatoes, some chopped olives, a spoonful of capers, and some chopped Blue Heron Farm parsley with croutons I had made the night before from a loaf of Iggy’s Francese. I added just enough of some leftover vinaigrette we had on hand to lightly moisten the croutons. Finally, I chopped a ball of burrata for some protein. It was delicious. You can try it yourself!

As I mentioned yesterday, I am participating in this week’s Living Local blogathon. Check out In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens, the sponsoring website, for links to other bloggers writing in celebration of Massachusetts Farmers Market Week. If you are a fellow Massachusetts reader, visit the Federation of Mass Farmers’ Markets website for more information about their support for state-wide markets, and consider making a donation to support their efforts.

I encourage you to make the most of the season, visit your local farmers’ market, and eat local whenever you can!