Despite this crazy weather, I love this time of year. The spring/summer harvest of fruits and vegetables, local food from farmers markets, growing my own food, fresh salads and refreshing drinks…what's not to love? This season makes me want to eat healthier, cook more and eat outside. I'm in foodie heaven.
==B Farmers Market:==
I went to the San Ramon Farmers Market in its new Bishop Ranch location for the first time this past Saturday. There weren't as many vendors as at the old farm location but, moving quickly in the drizzly rain, I found some nice goodies: sweet strawberries, 2 types of kale, fresh peas, squash blossoms, and a huge bag of salad greens, complete with colorful nasturtiums. We found a vendor selling fresh fish and brought home a 2+ pound whole red snapper. I even got to taste fava leaves, which are all the rage right now.
I wanted to do something special with the fresh-shelled peas. A sale on wild sea scallops at Whole Foods helped me create this simple, quick and tasty recipe:
==B Sweet Peas & Sea Scallops (serves 4)==
1 Tbsp dried basil
2 cups shelled English peas (3 pounds unshelled) or frozen peas
1-½ pounds large dry sea scallops (about 12), tough muscle removed
½ tsp salt, divided
½ tsp freshly ground pepper, divided
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1. Working over a small bowl, rub basil between your palms until finely powdered. Place a large steamer basket in a Dutch oven; add water to just below the steamer bottom. Add peas to the steamer; top with scallops in a single layer, touching each other as little as possible. Sprinkle with the basil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
2. Cover the pot and place over high heat. When steam begins to escape, start timing. Steam for 3 min. Continue steaming until the scallops are just cooked through, 2-3 min. more. Remove from heat.
3. While the steaming continues, whisk oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and the remaining salt and pepper in a small bowl until combined. Spoon the scallops and peas onto a serving platter. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately.
I found 3 types of kale at the market. The bunches were so bright green, I could feel the healthiness oozing from them. Surprisingly, kale, collards and broccoli are members of the cabbage family, although their leaves do not form a head. Kale shows up in every article on power nutrition foods these days. Kale is rich in carotenoids, free radical-fighting antioxidants. Kale is rich in vitamins K & C, calcium, beta carotene and suphoraphane, which is believed to have anti-cancer properties; it is also anti-inflammatory. Such vegetables aid in fighting disease; they also support overall health and glowing skin. I grew up eating lots of collards, turnip and mustard greens but my mother did not cook kale often. (Maybe it doesn't grow well in hot climates like Miami.) One woman ate kale for 365 days and lived to blog about it. Check out her kale recipes on www.365daysofkale.com.
==B Eating More Fish:==
As I mentioned, I've been trying to eat more fish. Consequently, I've been trying some new recipes to broaden my cooking repertoire with different kinds of fish. Since I got that beautiful whole red snapper at the farmers market on Saturday, I found this recipe and made it. It was mildly delicious (not truly fiery) so, next time, I'd make it again with more jalapeno to make it really fiery.
==B Tanzania Fiery Whole Red Snapper (serves 4)==
2 pounds red snapper or halibut
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced in rings
1 large jalapeno chili, seeds and stems removed, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 cup water
Juice and peel of ½ lemon
½ Tbsp salt
½ Tbsp pepper
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup flour
2 cups cooked rice
1. Cook the tomatoes, bell pepper, jalapeno, onions, lemon juice, lemon peel, salt, pepper, water, oil and bay leaves in a large saucepan over moderate heat for 25 min.
2. Cut the snapper into 4 pieces and rub with salt and pepper. Dip in the flour to coat. Fry the snapper pieces in ½" hot oil until brown and tender.
3. To serve, place the cooked rice on a platter. Place the dried red snapper on top of the rice and pour the sauce over everything. Serve hot.
Now that it's only 3 months away, I'm getting really excited about my upcoming trip to Venice in September. I've been reading the book, "Italy Dish by Dish" to find out more about the local dishes among Venetians. I'll talk more about the trip and my Venice research next time. The good news: they eat a lot of fish!