Apologies for not posting Mom's birthday part 2. No photos were taken at the event. But here we are at part 3!
However, first things first, the farmer's market purchases from this past week.
Wednesday held two especially incredible purchases: the season's first strawberries AND the season's first asparagus!
Both came from a farm that I tend to avoid, and honestly, the only reason is because the head farmer is not very nice. Everyone else at the market is friendly and greets customers and chats, and this particular one just isn't a friendly or nice person. Given that there tends to be a lot of choice at the market, it's not hard to refrain from purchasing from a specific stand since items are usually available at about the same price from more than one farmer. However, I had to make an exception in this case for the asparagus and strawberries. No one else had them yet, and Karen and I were thrilled to finally see these items! Asparagus has a very short season, so expect to see much of it over the next few weeks. Add to the purchased items list a delicious and enormous $2 bag of salad greens.
This Saturday I acquired a nice bunch of spinach and another bag of lettuce, though I looked for the farmer I purchased the lettuce from last Wednesday and didn't see her on Saturday. Maybe she only comes on Wednesdays?
The strawberries were the primary inspiration for Mom's birthday dinner #3 this past week. I flipped through the index of various Moosewood cookbooks, looking for strawberry inspiration, and landed on this strawberry salad dressing from New Classics.
1 cup fresh strawberries, rinsed and stemmed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp white or regular balsamic or cider vinegar (we used balsamic; might try cider or white next time to lighten it a bit)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp water
pinch of ground black pepper
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Refrigerated in a sealed container, this dressing will keep for three days.
With all the basil from last week's farmer's market purchase, making pesto pasta was the obvious choice. My go-to pesto recipe:
Mollie Katzen's Pesto from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest:
3 packed cups fresh basil leaves (no stems)
3-4 healthy cloves of garlic
1/4-1/2 tsp of salt
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pulverized nuts (I use pine nuts or walnuts, or a mix or both)
1/2 cup olive oil
Optional: 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley (I use this occasionally, or add a sprinkle of parsley if I have a bit around); 1/4 cup melted butter (not necessary, say I); freshly ground black pepper (sure!)
Puree everything together in a blender or a food processor until it becomes a uniform paste.
We roasted some tomatoes for the pasta as well (keeping them on the side, of course, to accommodate my Dad's extreme tomato dislike). Roasting cherry tomatoes really brings out their flavor. I use a combo of about 2 olive oil:1 balsamic vinegar, plus a teaspoon or so of sugar, a teaspoon or so of salt, a pinch of pepper, and you can add a pinch of herbes de provence or anything dried and green you have around. Whisk it together, coat the tomatoes, roast them on a baking sheet at 400 or 425 for 20 minutes or so, and you've got some good eats.
We put mixed the pesto in with the pasta, threw in some olives, and put together a salad with some toasted almonds, raisins, and the strawberry dressing. Call it dinner.