Thursday, July 8, 2010

Market Finds: Zucchini Blossoms & Fresh Saffron Pappardelle

Zucchini Flowers & Saffron Pasta in Brown Butter

I love summertime for so many reason, but for a food enthusiast who eats in season, it is mostly because of the open-air farmers' markets with their endless offering of the freshest local fruits, vegetables, green leafy vegetables, fresh milk, fresh pastas, cheeses, grass-fed and locally raised beef, organic free-range chicken and eggs, pastured berkshire pork, mushrooms, fresh butter, herbs, fresh cut flowers and tons of other exquisite treats! On Friday nights, I get giddy and excited like a teenager on her first date just contemplating what I can find at the market come morning, ha-ha!

Farmers' market is something I never really appreciated until I moved to the United States. In Philippines where I grew up, we have farmers' market (7) days a week, rain or shine or typhoon. The availability of fresh meat, seafood, fruits and vegetables is part of everyday life.

Food that are fresh and in season taste how nature intended them to be-- a tomato should taste like a tomato, not a wet sponge. It can be prepared with utmost simplicity and come out tasting spectacular and bursting with flavor. No need for over-seasoning or ultra-dressing to make it palatable. The taste and essence of the food should be the only thing allowed to shine and seasonings should only help bring it out.

Bill and I were in Charleston for the 4th of July weekend and we were so lucky to stay in a condominium with a gourmet kitchen that allowed us to cook most of our meals. The Charleston Farmers' Market at the Marion Square is awesome! A couple of my market finds there are zucchini blossoms and fresh saffron pappardelle.

Zucchini Blossoms
Kennerty Farms, Charleston Farmers Market

These golden blossoms on the edge of the zucchinis are the female flower. The male flowers grow on the stem of the plant and are slightly smaller than the female. Can you see the hierarchy here? ha-ha-ha!! Both flowers are edible.

When buying, look for firm and fresh blossoms that are slightly open. Remove the pistil/stamen since they are slightly bitter.

They can be used as garnish, added in salads and soups, battered and fried, sauteed, in a frittata or stuffed with whatever takes your fancy. I however, simply sautéed them in brown butter and heaped them on top of the fresh saffron pasta that I drizzled with brown butter and seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground white pepper.

Fresh Saffron Pappardelle
Rio Bertolini's Pasta, Charleston Farmer's Market

The young vendors are very vibrant and fun, just like their products. Of all the good looking pasta they have, I chose the saffron pappardelle to go with the zucchini blossoms since I was really feeling yellow (which translate to happy!!).

It was a good choice-- the saffron pasta, with only a subtle yet distinct taste and aroma of saffron went very well with the sautéed zucchini blossoms. According to Bill, it was the best meal he had in Charleston.

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