By Mary Peryea
I moved to Saratoga Springs last October from the small Adirondack town of Tupper Lake after retiring from my position as news editor at the local weekly newspaper. I had made many visits to the Spa City prior to my move, and on one of them I discovered what I consider to be one of the gems of Saratoga — the Saratoga Farmers’ Market in High Rock Park.
Tupper Lake has a small farmers’ market that runs from June through September, and there are many other regional farmers’ markets throughout the Adirondacks. The growing season up north is considerably shorter, however. That meant locally sourced produce was always somewhat limited, though we always had access to items like cheeses, meats, wines, eggs and other items that were not weather-dependent.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market, however, is a world beyond the markets further north. I spent many Saturday mornings wandering among the plethora of vendors and their offerings, marveling at the array of vegetables, wines, baked goods, plants, fruits, and honey. And let’s not forget the informational booths, the food vendors, and the entertainers. I was encouraged to register to vote, given information on the various candidates in this hotly contested presidential race, and learned about a variety of organizations operating in the city, all the while enjoying the talents of local musicians. It was at the winter market that I learned about the Friends of the Saratoga Farmer’s Market, a group I highly recommend to you.
One of my first purchases was local honey to help combat any allergies I might experience here. While studies into the efficacy of eating local honey to reduce seasonal allergy symptoms are inconclusive, I choose to believe it can’t hurt – and it sure does taste good on my yogurt in the morning.
The produce is the main reason I visit the market. Nothing can beat a salad made from fresh, locally grown greens and vegetables. Even my husband John, who is not a veggie lover, enjoys the dishes I make from my purchases at the farmers’ market. He enjoys those Saturday morning trips to the market almost as much as I do.
Now that it’s spring, I’m looking forward to finding some plants for my new flower beds. I’m hoping to be bee- and butterfly-friendly, so will be picking the growers’ brains for their thoughts on what will do best in my sandy soil. I’ll also be looking for spring produce – peas, rhubarb, asparagus, ramps, and such.
I just rediscovered my spiralizer among the boxies I’m still unpacking and am looking forward to giving it a spin (pun intended). You can spiralize all kinds of veggies: zucchini (known in the spiralizing world as “zoodles”), carrots, cucumbers, sweet potato, pumpkin, beets, radishes, turnips, even onions, cabbage and that broccoli stem you never know what to do with. You can also spiralize firmer fruits like apple and pear. I can hardly wait to whip up some zoodles.
• 1 bunch fresh basil
• 3 cups chicken broth, divided.
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1 pound fettuccine pasta, or better yet, use noodles made with the spiralizer.
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large leek, white and light green parts only, chopped
• 1 bunch green onions, chopped
• 2 pinches salt
• 2 zucchinis, diced
• 1 cup shelled English peas
• 1 bunch asparagus, stalks diced, tips left whole
• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or as needed
Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil. Hold basil bunch by the stems and dip basil leaves in boiling water until bright green, about 2 seconds. Immediately immerse basil in ice water for several minutes until cold to stop the cooking process. Once the basil is cold, drain well. Remove basil leaves from stems and discard stems.
Blend basil leaves, 1 cup chicken broth, 1/2 cup olive oil, and garlic together in a blender until smooth.
Stir noodles into the same pot of boiling water, bring back to a boil, and cook over medium heat until cooked through but still firm to the bite. Drain.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir leek and green onion in hot oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add salt.
Increase heat to medium-high. Stir 2 cups chicken broth and peas into leek and onion mixture; bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add asparagus and zucchini and continue cooking until vegetables are soft, about 3 minutes more.
Pour 1/4 cup basil-garlic mixture into zucchini mixture and cook and stir until heated through, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Place pasta in a large bowl; pour zucchini mixture over pasta and pour remaining basil-garlic mixture over the zucchini mixture. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top. Toss mixture briefly to combine and tightly wrap bowl with aluminum foil. Let stand until pasta and vegetables soak up most of the juices and oil, about 5 minutes. Toss again.