Shopping the Farmers Market: Why Blog

After years of frequenting the farmers markets in NYC, but only buying a few supplemental ingredients here or there, I decided to be experimental and work dishes around what is in season or looks particularly mouthwatering at the market that day. Green seems to be the buzz word these days from NYC to the White House, and the eat local movement is in full swing. My attempt here is to buy as many ingredients as possible from a the farmers market, and then occasionally supplement with locally produced ingredients from chain markets around the city. Most of the recipes I post (except for the baking recipes) are either things I created myself, or variations on recipes I've found elsewhere. I hope that you take the recipes and shopping tips here and they inspire you to do your own local cooking.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mid Summer Pizza

I had to run an errand in Manhattan today, so I thought I'd hit one of the largest markets in the city...The Union Square Farmers Market. Despite the crushing heat, people were out in full force today. I spotted Food Network chef Alex Guarnaschelli shooting a segment for one of her shows while I purchased spring onions. I reached for the standard ones, but then saw some red spring onions sitting nearby that intrigued me. It's the bulb part of the plant that is red, or
rather a purplish maroon color. The tops can grow much larger then the normal "white" spring onion variety, and the taste is slightly sweeter. I bought some, but decided to save them for another dish.

Today's dish is pizza. I spotted a roasted vegetable frozen pizza while strolling the aisles at Trader Joe's the other day and decided that it would be better if I made it myself. So today's goal was to find bright and fresh ingredients that would look and taste good on top of a pizza. After browsing the whole market it became evident that it's really squash season. Each stand overflowed with zucchini, yellow squash, even an avocado squash which I had never heard of before, but after some research discovered that the roundish green vegetable has a slightly richer flavor than regular squash. I made a mental note to try that later and bought some zucchini and yellow squash instead. The color of the yellow squash was so vibrant, I knew it would stand out on top of the pizza.

After grabbing some early season Jersey tomatoes I headed to the south side of the square to Whole Foods to buy some supplemental ingredients. I unfortunately didn't have enough time today to make the dough for the pizza myself, but Whole Foods makes a great alternative. They make it fresh every day in a few different varieties. You can find it in the refrigerated section with the sandwiches. I also picked up some locally made mozzarella. I would have liked to have bought cheese at the farmers market, but I wasn't too impressed with the selection they had today. There were only a couple of cheese vendors, and nothing but goat cheese seemed appropriate for a pizza. I would have bought that, but the vegetables seemed so fresh that I didn't want to overpower their flavor with the pungency of the goat cheese.

So today I purchased:
Farmers Market
1 yellow squash
1 zucchini
2 Jersey tomatoes
1 bunch of thyme
1 shallot
1 yellow onion
Garlic bulb

Whole Foods
1 pre-made pizza dough
1 ball of mozzarella cheese

Ingredients I had at home
white wine
olive oil
salt and pepper

Recipe: Roasted Tomato and Squash Pizza
Slice the squash into rounds. Chop the tomatoes into quarter size pieces. Mince two cloves of garlic and the onion. In medium size skillet saute the onion and garlic on medium high heat for a minute. Add the tomatoes, squash and zucchini. Saute on medium high until the zucchini starts to slightly brown and get soft. Add salt and pepper to taste and a teaspoon of thyme. I had actually bought the thyme at the Grand Army Plaza farmers market earlier in the week and had left it out in a bowl. When I went to use it today it was already dried. This was fine. It just meant that I used a little less. As the tomatoes started to cook down I added a splash of white wine and a teaspoon of sugar. Once the tomatoes were losing their shape, but before the squash fell apart I turned off the heat. It should look like this.

While I was sauteing the vegetables I preheated the oven to 450 degrees. I would prefer to use a pizza stone, but if you don't have one, a sheet pan will do. Spray the pan with olive oil so it won't stick. Roll out the pizza dough to desired thickness. Prick the dough with a fork so it doesn't bubble up during baking. I brushed some olive oil over the dough before adding the toppings.

You can put either the cheese or the vegetables on first, but I put the cheese as the under-layer. I sliced the mozzarella to about 1/4 inch and laid it on the pizza. Then I scooped the vegetables on top of the cheese and finished with some Parmesan I had in the fridge. Bake for 10 minutes until the crust is crispy but not burnt. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

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