And. . . Week Four of One Local Summer!
I've always been a big fan of Washington DC's historic Eastern Market, especially considering that you can arrive with the intention of buying vegetables and leave with an artwork, a dress, and some funky jewelry. Yesterday was no exception: I did in fact bring home a fashionable market abundance including a hot pink dress, several pairs of earrings, a few pieces of squash, some tomatoes, and some nectarines. For once, my market bag was not too heavy (grocery money = clothing money). In reality, this was money well spent since I will be on vacation next week.
Though I have shopped at Eastern Market countless times, this was the first time I really opened my eyes to how "local" the vendors were. When I saw one vendor selling olive oil with a Virginia label, I had to laugh out loud. I looked at him and said in disbelief: "Olive oil?" Ah, an import from California with a Virginia label. Perfect.
Okay, so I'd have to ask a lot of questions while I walked around. Sure enough, there were wholesalers selling produce from California and South Carolina. But, there were also many vendors from southern Maryland and the Eastern panhandle area of West Virginia. I was very careful to buy only from these folks. Some of the highlights included:
Lettuce! Apparently lettuce is still available in some places. This vendor from southern Maryland had several interesting varieties including a beautiful gourmet mix with edible flowers. I also read in my Fresh Farms update that DuPont circle has greenhouse grown lettuce throughout the summer.
Squash was everywhere. These guys were all so cute that I couldn't resist a photo. Of course, by the end of the summer, I will probably not feel inspired to photograph (or eat) zucchini or squash.
One of the vendors made several varieties of homemade hommos, garden salsa, and black bean dip. The salsa was very good, and the garlic chive hommos was also very tasty. I look forward to returning and buying a few of their homemade goods.
The real excitement, however, was a vendor selling squash blossoms. I had heard about squash blossoms being used in Mediterranean cooking, but this was my first time actually seeing them sold at a market. I had to have them, and I was pretty sure I knew what to do with them.
Stuffed squash blossoms
- 6-8 large squash blossoms, rinsed and prepared*
- 1 TB olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
- 1/4 cup diced zucchini or squash
- 1/4 cup diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup feta cheese
- splash of white wine
- salt and pepper
* In order to make the stuffing process a little easier, I made a small slit down the squash blossom, and then twisted the ends of each blossom together once stuffed. I'm sure expert blossom chefs have a better technique, but this worked okay for me. . . they didn't really stay together very well, but their "bite size" was perfect, albeit a little messy.
Heat olive oil on medium heat. Saute onion, garlic, and zucchini until tender (about 5 minutes). Set aside and allow to cool off a little.
Add bread crumbs, tomato, white wine, feta, salt and pepper to the onion mixture. Scoop a spoonful of the stuffing into each blossom. Twist the ends of each blossom.
Return the blossoms to the saute pan and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Drizzle additional ollive oil if desired, and serve warm.
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So, what did I think? Besides feeling slightly strange eating something I hadn't really considered food, these were pretty good. The blossoms had a mild and sweet flavor.
Other recommended cooking methods for these included stuffing them with sausage or a variety of cheeses; battering and deep frying them; or sauteeing them in an omelet or frittata.