I love going early in the morning to Union Square farmers market. It's fall and the market is a kaleidoscope of colors and aromas. Happiness bursts from each farmer's table. It gives me such a pleasure to buy my greens from the market; my eyes get full with colors: riped red and bright yellow heirloom tomatoes, fiery red chili peppers, delicate green -escarole, salads, and green peppers, medium green parsley, bell peppers, and celery, to dark greens like Tuscan kale and beet leaves, shiny purple eggplants, and delicious orange carrots.
As long the weather permits I prefer walk to the market. It's a pleasant stroll watching the city slowly waking up, with a charming Saturday laziness. The air is layered with coffee aroma and steamed milk coming from the coffee shops, the noise of setting up tables coming from restaurants getting ready soon to serve brunch, and mothers with strollers heading to the playgrounds with their babies.
Once I reach Union Square I feel like at home. I know when a reach what I'll get and it's always a pleasure to have a little chat with the farmers. They care about their products and they are always proud to talk about how they grow their vegetables.
The market is not only a beautiful place to be, but also everything from it tastes better. It's fresh and for the value it's cheaper compared to some grocery stores. No matter if I go there only for three things, I always get back home with at least five bags full of goodies. Can you resist passing by freshly picked blackberries? I can't.
This is my grocery list: tomatoes, cucumbers, celery stalks and bulb (I like to slice the bulb with a mandolin very thinly and have it as an afternoon snack, lightly seasoned with salt and Partanna extra virgin olive oil), parsley, dill, carrots, beets, escarole, kale, onions, eggplant, corn, berries, apples, and potatoes.
Cooking with fresh ingredients is essentials as having siesta on the weekend. Food always taste better after 2 hours afternoon nap and when the veggies are picked from the garden.
Enjoy my weekend recipes!
St. Tropez Summer Salad
The salad is so pleasant in look and taste that will please even the toughest guest. A single complex bite will bring the bohemian and sunny spirit to the table.
4 fresh heirloom tomatoes
¼ baby fennel bulb, cut to thin ribbons
¼ green pepper, cut to thin slices
¼ red onion, cut to thin slices
5 fingering potatoes
1 Kirby cucumber, peeled and cut to thin pieces, lengthwise
8 nicoise olives
1 egg, hard-boiled
4 fillets of anchovies, in pure olive oil
1 spring parsley for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
FOR THE HERB OLIVE OIL
1-cup Partanna extra virgin olive oil
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh basil
2 bay leaves
2 whole black pepper corn
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
To make the herb olive oil in a small glass jar, add one cup extra virgin olive oil and mix it with the fresh basil, rosemary, bay leaves, black pepper corn, and thinly sliced garlic clove. The herb olive oil can be prepared the night before.
Boiled the fingering potatoes and let them cool. Hard boil the egg, peel and cut it to 4 pieces.
Cut the top of the heirloom tomatoes and scoop out the inside. Stuff each tomato with slices of baby fennel, cucumbers, green peppers, red onions, small bite-sized pieces of fingering potatoes, and top it with a nicoise olive and rolled anchovies. Repeat the same with the rest of the tomatoes.
Serve it in the individual plate with a quarter piece of hard-boiled egg on the side. Drizzle it with the infused oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice and the St. Tropez dolls are ready to be served.
Endive Salad with Figs, Gorgonzola, and Toasted Almonds
A kaleidoscope for your senses
1 bulb Endive
½ bulb Radicchio
5 stalks fresh asparagus
4 fresh Figs
2 tablespoons Toasted Almonds
Cut the enduce and radicchio to ¼" thin pieces. Shave the asparagus thinly.
Place them in a salad bowl. Gently toss them with the honey-truffle vinaigrette.
Sprinkle on top the toasted almonds and the fresh figs, cut in quarters.
Grilled Eggplant Dip
Eggplant dip cooked to perfection. The result is innocent addiction that knows no boundaries.
Servings – 2 jars
1 medium size eggplant
1 plum tomato
2 garlic clove
1 tablespoon finely hopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400F.
Place the eggplant, tomato and the two garlic cloves to a baking pan and bake for 40 minutes until soft.
Once cooked, cut the eggplant lengthwise in half and scoop out the inside. Pull the skin off of the
tomatoes and the garlic cloves. Shred the tomato through a metal grater. In a mortar mix the garlic with salt and black pepper. Mix well until gets a pasty texture.
To make the eggplant dip place all the ingredients — eggplant, tomatoes and garlic paste — in a medium-sized bowl and start stirring until it gets a smooth and homogeneous texture, about 10 min.
Season with finely chopped parsley and served with toasted bread.
Tip: When you're buying an eggplant, try to choose based on the shiny color. Your eggplant should have no dark spots, and it should not be too firm in touch, or too soft. Touch the meat of the eggplant to determine whether it's ripe and ready to be cooked.
Pan-roasted carrots, coated with honey and lightly caramelized
1 lb different color baby carrots
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Partanna extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Clean and peel the carrots.
In a large sauté pan over medium heat sauté the carrots with 2 tablespoons olive oil until browns yell on all sides. Add ¼ cup water and let it simmer. Just before it evaporates add the honey and mix well. Make sure carrots are evenly coated. Cook them for another 2 minutes or until water is completely gone.
6 medium-sized red tomatoes
½ green pepper
½ cucumber, peeled
½ small onion
1 garlic clove
¼ cup Partanna extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons apple vinegar
Run the dull part of the knife over the whole tomato and pill the skin off. Peel the skin off of the carrot and the cucumber.
Blend all ingredients in a blender for 3 minutes and then add ¼ cup Partanna extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons apple vinegar, and pinch of salt. Fill it up with 1 ½ cup iced cold water and blend it for 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a container, seal it and leave it in a refrigerator to chill for 6 hours before serving.
Black Sea Bass Fillet over Mix Salad with Lemon Glaze
4 Black Sea bass fillets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Red oak leaves
Thinly cut fennel bulb
To make the lemon glaze, first squeeze the juice of two lemons. Cut the lemons to small chunks and place them in a sauté pan cover with water. When the water starts boiling lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Once the lemons are completely cooked and soft get all the juice from the lemons using potato ricer. Transfer the juice back to the sauté pan add the 1-1/2 sugar and simmer for one hour until the liquid gets syrupy in texture.
Pat-dry the black sea bass fillets and lightly season them with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a cast-iron pan over high heat. Once the pan is very hot, add two filets, skin down, and press down with a panini press, so the fish doesn't curl up. Cook for 2 minutes. Turn over and cook for another 2 minutes. Repeat the same to the rest of the filets.
Pour two tablespoons of the lemon glaze on flat serving plate. Tilt the plate to spread it evenly. Add one scoop of the mix salad and place the black sea bass fillet on top. Drizzle it with some extra virgin olive oil and lemon syrup.