I love a farmer’s market. I get up early on a weekend morning, grab a coffee and go explore one of the many markets that I’m fortunate to have surrounding my home in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. On Saturdays I’ll usually head to the North Union Farmers Market at Shaker Square, grab a coffee at Dewey’s and grab a spot in line to snag some perfect peaches from Rittman Orchards. If I’m hungry, I’ll eat one of Big Mouth’s amazing vanilla bean donuts, then head over to Killbuck Valley Mushrooms to grab their beautiful little blue oyster mushrooms to cook during the week.
I always leave with a bag overflowing with colors – if there is flowering rabe I won’t be able to say no – plus those graffiti eggplants were particularly gorgeous today – and are those garlic scapes? You get the picture.
I’m leaving in a few weeks to study slow food in Italy, so my markets are about to look a lot different for a while. And while I’m quite excited to explore the market culture on that side of the world, I’m going to very much miss those here, so I’m trying to get as much time with them as I can.
Today’s recipe is the first entry in a new venture on Meet Me at the Long Table, called Market to Table, where we celebrate recipes prepared with local ingredients. I’ve been thinking about this recipe for awhile – its vibrant colors, its simple flavors and, most of all, its ability to bring together ingredients produced with care from farmers and producers in my area.
Beet Pasta with Chanterelles and Chèvre uses (almost) all local ingredients. It comes together quickly and is quite pretty to boot. Before we get to the recipe, I’ll briefly guide you through each of the lovely ingredients and the farmers and producers who grew and made them.
The vibrant magenta beet pasta is from the great Cleveland pastaficio Ohio City Pasta. Fresh pasta is always a treat, and Ohio City does an amazing job offering a variety of cut and stuffed pastas. I’m very particular to their ramen, as it is difficult to find fresh – you’ll almost always find it in my fridge as a quick dinner option. Their portioning is perfect as well – the cut pastas always come in 4 oz. bundles, so you can get a little or a lot, depending on how many you are feeding (or how hungry you are).
The alien-like bright orange chanterelles are from Killbuck Valley Mushrooms. This has always been one of my favorite stands at the market. Tom is infinitely knowledgeable and unfailingly friendly and his mushrooms are always the best quality. I’m disappointed on weeks when I don’t go, as commercially produced mushrooms always look so sad in comparison. Plus, his knowledge comes in handy – chanterelles are rarely cultivated and must usually be gathered from the wild. Most wild mushrooms, including chanterelles, have poisonous lookalikes, so it’s always best to buy them from very experienced gathers, as Killbuck most certainly is.
(N.B. I’ve taken a mushroom foraging class at Case Western Reserve University Farm, which I found thoroughly enjoyable and greatly increased my knowledge of local wild fungi. I highly recommend it if you have any interest in the subject at all. The farm also has a market every other Saturday during the summer, where they sell mushrooms foraged by its staff, including my class’s instructor Ryan Bennett, so its another great option for wild mushrooms).
The white wine that I use in the dish is the Stainless Steel Chardonel from Bent Ladder, a fantastic winery and cidery at Rittman Orchards in Doylestown, Ohio. Matt Vodraska is one of the hardest working people I know, but his labor pays off in truly fantastic Ohio wines and ciders for all of us to enjoy. The Chardonel is a particular favorite of mine (in fact, I finished off a bottle last night while recipe testing with a friend), but lately I’ve been a bit obsessed with a new cider they have called Barrel Blues, which is aged like whiskey and infused with blueberries and lavender. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever tasted and its best enjoyed on location at Bent Ladder on a Friday night with friends, watching the sunset over their lake.
The garlic is from Rittman Orchards, which is the stand at Shaker that you will never see without a long line – and with good reason – as everything that they produce tastes exactly like what you want it to taste like, but better. Ever been disappointed with a blueberry? That will never happen at Rittman. Their peach season creates lines that start well before the market opens and they typically sell out before the market even ends. The Vodraska family produces everything with care and it shows. Trust me, the line is well worth it.
I used to live down the road from Snake Hill Farm, who grew the shallots in this dish. I would walk around the corner a few times a week to wave to their dark brown cows, who would watch me with benign disinterest. Their produce is fantastic and everything is grown organically. I am always pleased at the heirloom varietals that I can find there – like rossa di milano and tropea onions or romano beans. They are always ready with recipes as well, and I’ve learned many ways to cook their beautiful green garlic scapes from them.
I like to stop by the Cleveland Botanical Garden Green Corps stand, where I purchased the chives in this dish (and also a pretty habanero that was not in it). The Green Corps is a agricultural work-study program for high school students and it’s always really wonderful to interact with the students and learn from what they know. Their enthusiasm is palpable, which is important as farming is an ageing career path in America and needs young hands to carry it forward.
Finally, the chèvre is from Lucky Penny Creamery, which produces a variety of cheese from their goats. It’s honestly a winderful chèvre – light in texture, which just enough of tang to be perfectly interesting, but not overpowering. If you’ve been afraid of goat cheese, please try theirs – you won’t be disappointed. Plus, they do goat yoga at their farm, which is always a plus in my book.
Now, that was A LOT of words, but I think that those that produce the food that we eat are too often relegated to the background. They should be celebrated for the hard work and careful attention that they put into the foods that nourish us. That perfect August peach wouldn’t be possible without a farmer and that fresh pasta that Italian grandmothers would spend all afternoon making can be yours in two minutes of cooking thanks to a local pasta maker.
So meet your local farmers and producers, support them by buying what they sell, follow them on social media (yes, most of them are on Instagram and I learn a lot from following them) and, most of all, enjoy what they bring to life. Appreciate where your food came from and the people behind the ingredients.
Beet Pasta with Chanterelles & Chèvre
- If you can’t find fresh beet pasta, you can use any pasta that you would like (fresh or dried). A long wide noodle, like fettuccine or pappardelle works best here. Adjust cooking time as necessary – you want the pasta to be done as soon as the wine is reduced.
- Please do not forage your own chanterelles unless you know what you are doing. They have poisonous lookalikes. Also, always cook all wild mushrooms thoroughly and never eat them raw.
- If you can’t find chanterelles, I would use oyster mushrooms in this dish, or quartered cremini mushrooms.
- If you don’t have Bent Ladder nearby, you can use any dry white wine (or even a dry rosé) in this dish.
12 oz. fresh beet fettuccine
3 T. unsalted butter
12 oz. chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned with a brush and halved if large
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/3 cup dry white wine
3-4 oz. fresh chèvre
2 T. chives, chopped
Salt & Pepper
- Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Once melted and hot, add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are tender and have reduced in size, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add garlic and shallot to mushrooms and cook 2-3 minutes, or until shallots are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add wine to the hot pan to deglaze it and scrape off any bits from the bottom of the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the wine is almost entirely reduced.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in well salted water. After the allotted time, add it to the pan with the mushrooms, allowing a bit of the pasta water to cling to the noodles.
- Turn the heat to low and add the chèvre to the pan in small spoonfuls. Toss the hot pasta and mushrooms with the cheese until the cheese completely coats the pasta. Season the pasta, if necessary.
- Dish the hot pasta into bowls and top with chives. Serve the rest of that bottle of wine on the side. Enjoy!