Thursday, July 17, 2014

Squash sage and radicchio

I've been working farmers' markets lately, trying to sell organic produce.  It's a tough job when you're up against conventional farms who grow lots and buy even more from other farmers located god only knows where.  My one little table looks so skimpy and is barely even noticeable compared to the other farmer vendors with 5, 6, 10 tables of produce.  They even have bananas and lemons.  They may be able to argue the tomatoes or peaches in late June, but there's no way those lemons are Jersey grown.  So, to answer the often asked question "Why is your table so small?"  It's because we grow it all ourselves!  We are organic!  We do not use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides!  Spring was late and cold this year!  It's humbling, it's frustrating, it's sad, when my table is overlooked because even at a farmers' market, the customers still want one stop shopping.  But then you get those few customers who get it.  They come to me because they asked the other farmer questions, only to have that farmer stumble over the answer, knowing that they weren't going to get that sale, because this is an educated consumer!  It may only be one customer who wanders over out of the 20 with their backs to me.  But that one customer makes my day!
On to my next big question that customers ask, "What do I do with this ___?"  I'm no cook.  I don't remember recipes, so I stumble and try to give a rough idea.  Maybe I steal an idea I overheard from someone walking by, or quickly grab my phone and search for recipe ideas.  Well, I got a creative hungry little bug tonight and created a recipe.  Since I work on this farm and struggle to sell some of the produce and I have my own garden at home, there's plenty of odd produce bits that need to be eaten NOW.  I sat there staring at the bolted lettuce and broccoli with one day left before it flowers, and thinking about those poor yellow beautiful squash and green radicchio that was wilting away sadly.  What the hell do I do with these ingredients?  Here we go...

We grilled up some chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper and parsley painted on it.  In the meantime I sauteed some zucchini (you could use yellow squash or any other summer squash, we just had a half a one left over), broccoli, and shallot in some olive oil with a little salt and pepper.  When that was all tender, I added some fresh sage.  I then took the veggies out and made a roux with butter and flour.  I was going to use some bacon fat, but to keep it healthy, I just stuck with butter.  (But some chopped up bacon could have been good. )  Then I added some chicken broth and made a gravy.  The gravy could be skipped for a lighter meal, but the man of the house LOVES gravy, so I made him happy.  So, now that's all cooked.  We took some green radicchio and put that on the plate as a nice little bed, placed the chicken on top, then the veggies, poured some gravy on it, and just to top it all off, sprinkled a little parmesan on top.  It was great!  One of my rare attempts at creating a recipe with the ingredients I have in my garden and fridge.  Quite a success.

I am not a cook.  I can follow a recipe and I can cook what I know.  Beyond that, I play around a little, but usually go with what I know.  So I apologize if this recipe seems wacky or confusing.    What I do have in common with cooks is that I don't measure.  Also not great for sharing recipes.  But this is pretty flexible.  You can skip the gravy.  You can skip the meat, or use pork.  You can grill everything.  The important part is the fresh ingredients you just bought at the market and have no idea what to do with.  Get creative!  Have fun!  That's what we did!

Here's our recipe:
2 chicken breasts, pounded
1/2 zucchini or any other summer squash
1-3 shallots
green radicchio
chicken or veggie broth
olive oil
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese

Grill chicken breasts and paint with olive oil, salt, pepper and parsley
Sautee squash, shallot and broccoli in olive oil.  Add salt, pepper and sage when veggies get as soft as you want.
Remove veggies and add 1T or so butter to pan.  Add some flour to make a roux.  Then add some broth, about a cup and sprinkle some thyme if desired. (the sage could also be added here)  Stir as it bubbles a bit and becomes gravy-like.
Create a bed of radicchio on each plate.
Place chicken on top.
Put veggies on top of that.
Pour gravy on top.
Sprinkle with parmesan.

Here's how it looked

We ate outside watching the fireflies.

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