Confident home cooking
watercress salad
Main Dishes, Pasta, Salad, Vegetarian

A Farmer’s Market Dinner

by Nick

One of my favorite things to do on a lazy Sunday is take a stroll through a local farmer’s market, pick up some really fresh ingredients, plan a meal around them, and spend some quality time in the kitchen.

A few weeks ago I was poking around a market close to us (scenes from the market), and I picked up some really good stuff. When I got home I worked out a menu around it!

Here’s what I picked up from the market:

- 1/2 pound fresh watercress
– 1 small log of Allegheny chevre
– A variety pack of fantastic mushrooms from The Mushroom Guy
– Farm fresh eggs
Clear Spring Creamery Milk (Non-homogenized)

Here’s what I ended up doing for the menu!

Watercress Salad

This was a simple three ingredient salad, but it was very refreshing.

I added some strawberries that I had in the fridge. It’s not quite strawberry season I know, but they looked okay at the store. It’s the only major ingredient that I didn’t get at the farmer’s market.

Anyway, just add all your ingredients to a bowl! No need for a recipe, just use your eyes. The watercress has a nice peppery flavor that balances perfectly with the strawberries and creaminess of the cheese.

salad mixed

Easy and fresh!

Of course, you can’t just eat salad on a Sunday night, so I made some…

Wild Mushroom Pappardelle

I wanted to really showcase the mushrooms because, well, look at these guys!

mushrooms

Cool Shrooms!

Plus I had the milk from the creamery so I could make a cream sauce and the eggs, while they would’ve been probably best just lightly fried, they worked great for a pasta also!

I haven’t made homemade pasta in a while honestly (I think this was the last time). I’m so far from an expert at this it isn’t even funny. I don’t even have a pasta roller. I just use my muscles as I imagine an Italian grandmother might.

Does my pasta turn out perfect? Definitely not. Does it turn out delicious? Yes. Seriously, homemade pasta is not something that you should fear.

Whole Wheat Pasta Dough (From Bittman’s How To Cook Everything)

– 1 Cup whole wheat flour
– 1 Cup all-purpose flour
– 1 Teaspoon salt
– 2 whole eggs
– 3 egg yolks

Making a well

This is the classic way to make pasta dough and let me tell you I’m not great at it. Ideally, mix up all your dry ingredients so they are evenly incorporated, then add them to a clean counter top, make a well in the middle and add your eggs and yolks to the well.

Looks great right?!

flour well

This could get ugly.

Then, ideally, use a fork to very slowly mix the eggs. The flour should slowly incorporate with the eggs until you have a nice ball of dough.

I couldn’t even take a photo of what happened to mine (and what has happened to mine every single time I try to make pasta). I think I get too anxious and eventually start singing “When The Levy Breaks” and then I knock a huge hole in my flour wall, eggs spill all over the place, and I have a small disaster on my hands.

But even with the mess, I can eventually mix together all of my flour and eggs and get it to form a pretty nice looking ball of dough! (I tell you all of this by the way to let you know that it can go horribly wrong and still turn out reasonably right.)

dough ball

Success!

Knead this ball of dough for a few minutes. It’ll be very firm, but you should be able to work with it. After a few minutes of kneading, wrap it in plastic and let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, but an hour would work also. That’ll help the flour relax a bit.

Making the pasta

So this is the step that requires some work if you don’t have a pasta roller. Divide your dough ball in half and start rolling!

Don’t get in a hurry and use a good amount of flour to make sure your dough doesn’t stick. It’ll take a good amount of pressure and rolling and time to get your pasta the desired thickness. It should be pretty thin. If you hold it up to a light, you should be able to see through it.

My final rectangle was about 20 inches by 12 inches. And yes… you have to do this twice because this should only be half of your dough!

rolled pasta

Roll out!

Next, just make sure your pasta sheet is well-floured, roll it up tightly and chop it up into ribbons. I made my ribbons pretty wide because that’s the pappardelle way. In fact, I probably could’ve made them even wider.

pasta cut

I love this step.

So I’m exaggerating a bit on how hard this was. Yes you do have to do this whole process twice to get through all your pasta dough, but the whole thing took me maybe 15 minutes. It wasn’t so bad and look at these awesome noodles I ended up with!

pasta ready

Not bad!

The Sauce

My idea for the sauce was just to cook the mushrooms with a tiny bit of onion in some butter and then add some cream/milk to it and make a mushroom cream sauce.

At the farmer’s market I found this great non-homogenized milk which basically means they’ve kept the cream and milk together instead of separating it into two products. If you look closely, you can see the faint line near the top of the bottle where the cream and milk meet.

milk

See the cream separated at the top?

I had about 3 Cups of chopped mushrooms and I just cooked them down in maybe 3 Tablespoons of butter for a few minutes along with 1/4 of a chopped onion over medium heat. Then I added about 1 1/2 Cups of my cream/milk and turned the heat down to low. You can definitely just use cream from the store in which case just use 1 cup as it will reduce really fast.

I added a few pinches of fresh thyme to the mix also which is optional I guess.

cooking shrooms

Professional mushroom and cream here people.

Cooking the pasta

If you’ve never cooked fresh pasta, it cooks pretty fast. My pasta was pretty thick and it took about 4 minutes to cook all the way through (cook it in salted water as with any pasta). Then I added my pasta straight to my sauce with some tongs and tossed everything together!

The Meal

We started the meal with some of the salad. Honestly, I didn’t even feel the need to make a dressing for this salad. Just a spritz of lemon juice was enough.

strawberry salad

Just a lemon will work.

Followed by the mushroom pappardelle!

mushroom pasta

Better than it looks.

This was a great meal and honestly, the pasta reheated a lot better than I thought it would. Just add a bit more milk to it when you reheat it and it’s perfect on day two or three!

Fresh ingredients and a bit of elbow grease are pretty much always guaranteed to produce a pretty solid meal!

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12 comments on “A Farmer’s Market Dinner

  1. Mmmmm! That mushroom Pappardelle looks absolutely divine! I make something similar to it, but have never known what it was called. The salad looks pretty good too, but I don't recall ever seeing that particular kind of cheese.

    1. I'm not entirely sure that's the proper name for it either, but that's what I'm calling it!

      You could substitute any kind of soft cheese for that… maybe goat cheese.

  2. Ok Nick,

    I'm kind of obsessed with this dish. Like I need to get a life and move on to another blog, but I just keep scrolling up and down.

    I hope you don't mind but I'm going to share it with my friends at the Mushroom Channel on twitter.

    Fantastic mushroomery!

  3. Hint: make your well for the eggs larger. The space pictured is much too small to mix without the "dam breaking". The eggs should only fill 1/2 of the volume/space of the well to mix evenly without a terrible mess.

  4. Looks really great! I've tried making pasta with a pasta maker before and failed miserably. Maybe it would work better for me if I did it by hand? I think I might try and find out!

    Also, homogenization doesn't mean that they separate the cream and milk. Homogenized milk, as I understand it, has been blasted at a fine mesh screen so that the cream particles are suspended in the milk. "Skimmed" milk has the cream and milk separated (though I don't know what processes the skim milk one would buy at a grocery store goes through, whether it still needs to be homogenized or not).

  5. I don't know about back East, but out here in Cali strawberries are already really good, and quite cheap. I heard something on NPR about how Florida's strawberries came late this year, with the result that they are on the market at the same time as California's, which has depressed prices. Anyway, very good–they're about $2.50 per quart out here.

  6. What a great idea! I always go to my neighborhood farmers market on Saturdays, I wouldn't have even thought to do a homemade pasta dish with all farm fresh ingredients. I'll look with a more open mind the next time I go to the market!

  7. Man, this whole dinner looks totally spot-on. Perfect salad (I love a squirt of lemon instead of dressing — especially with the sweet-peppery combo of watercress or arugula and fruit), and those noodles look awesome. I’m super impressed by your homemade pasta!

  8. This looks absolutely amazing! I’m definitely going to have to try that mushroom pasta. Major props to you for getting your ingredients from the farmer’s market.

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