Day 140–Farmer Spotlight–Melina’s Pasta and Pasta With Roasted Vegetables

Melina delivers homemade, frozen pasta to our farmer’s market!

Ok, this post isn’t really a “farmer”, rather a wonderful, local pasta maker who sells her homemade pasta at some of our local farmer’s markets. Melina’s pasta has quickly become a staple in our house. Dried pasta has its place, but buying fresh pasta (we purchase it frozen) has given us the not-so-subtle reminder that when it comes to all foods, fresh is best. Ellie loves this pasta and remarked right away at how flavorful it is and what a great texture it has. So maybe she didn’t eat the roasted vegetables I served with the pasta, but at least she had spinach fettucine!

The spinach fettucine has by far been our favorite so far. We have tried it with roasted vegetables (see below) and with saut√©ed scallops and lemon (super yum!). I think next week we might try some ravioli. If you are in Raleigh, stop by the Melina’s booth and sample some wonderful recipes she puts together with ingredients from other vendors at the market! Great way to find out how to put your market treasures together for a meal.

Here is a revised version of an earlier recipe we posted using roasted veggies tossed with pasta. The result of this experiment was light, so flavorful and a great way to use vegetables from our Produce Box! This is what we made with our seasonal vegetables, but you could use any vegetables you have handy. Definitely, don’t leave out the onion!

Melina’s Spinach Fettucine with Roasted Vegetables

  • 8 oz. frozen Melina’s spinach fettucine (1/2 bag); dried pasta works, too!
  • 2 small yellow squash, chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 2 zucchini, chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 2 spring sweet onions (white parts only) diced
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 1″ pieces
  • Local asiago-type cheese, grated (about 2 c.)
  • Fresh basil and oregano from our garden, chopped (dried is ok, too!)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together all chopped vegetables + herbs. Drizzle with olive oil to lightly coat and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour vegetables onto rimmed baking sheet and distribute to make an even layer.
  4. Put sheet in pre-heated oven and roast vegetables for 30-50 minutes (this really depends on how roasted you like your vegetables–we roast ours from almost an hour).
  5. While vegetables roast, heat a stock pot with water for the pasta. Bring to a boil.
  6. When vegetables are about done, add salt and pasta to the boiling water and cook according to directions (fresh/frozen pasta will take only 4-5 minutes). Reserve 1 cup of pasta water for sauce.
  7. Remove vegetables from the oven and put in a large bowl. Drain pasta, reserving 1 c. of liquid and add pasta to the bowl.
  8. Add cheese and reserved pasta water to the bowl and mix well. The heat from the pasta and vegetables will melt the cheese and the pasta water will make a light sauce.
  9. Serve up to your hungry family with a hearty thanks to Melina!
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Day 118–This Week’s Produce Box

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This week, our veggie fairy named Terri delivered a beautiful box of vegetables plus organic strawberries PLUS cheese. Right to my doorstep. Yes she did. We are set to go with another week’s worth of fresh vegetables, including two kinds of lettuce, two pounds of carrots, beets, an herb bouquet, two quarts of strawberries and a local cheese that is similar to asiago. YUM!

So, what to do with two pounds of carrots? I’m thinking of…pickling! But of course! Pickled carrots sound yummy and will be a continuation of my learning all things pickle. These are supposed to be spicy pickles, which sound pretty good to me. I’m NOT posting this idea on Facebook ūüôā If that doesn’t work out for some reason, I’m thinking carrot soup.

What would YOU do with 2 pounds of carrots???

Day 31–Hillsborough Cheese Company

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Not sure which cheese you would love? You can try 'em before you buy 'em!

My child is in love. With a cheese.

Really, it could be worse, right? This sweet infatuation began at the Western Wake Farmer’s Market, where we visited the booth of artisanal cheese makers The Hillsborough Cheese Company (hillsboroughcheese.wordpress.com). We had been looking for a local cheese source, and were thrilled to find¬†the cheese¬†booth, complete with tasting opportunities. We sampled a few and ended up purchasing some Eno Sharp for grilled cheese and some fresh mozzarella for pizza.

Then, we tried the Bloomin’ Sweet Ash, an aged goat cheese that gets its ashy exterior from the application of a food grade vegetable ash. Really! They describe the cheese this way: ‘The result is a creamy, gooey layer surrounding a delicious, chevre-like spreadable center that alternates between notes of sweetness and bitterness.” My child believes this is the best cheese. Ever. I heard about the virtues and superior quality of this cheese all the way home. Apparently, I am going to be adding this to my list next week.

Hillsborough Cheese Company offers a nice range of cow and goat milk cheeses made with locally produced milk. Their cow milk comes from Maple View Farm in Orange County, which sets the standard in our area for high quality, no growth hormone milk from pasture raised cows. Their goat milk comes from similar high quality goat dairies in the area. Cheesemaker Cindy West focuses on crafting European style cheeses and it appears that they have some standard offerings as well as some seasonal varieties that take advantage of available local ingredients.

So how was the cheese? We tried the Eno Sharp in our grilled cheese last night and all of us agreed it was amazing. It had perfect melting qualities and a wonderful milky taste that was not overly sharp, but had enough flavor that we could really taste the cheese. Hard to describe (I’m not a cheese expert by any means). We would definitely do this again.

The mozzarella¬†is a fresh, hand stretched mozzarella¬†that we used on our homemade pizzas. It was so much more flavorful than store-bought pizza cheese that I don’t think we’ll ever go back to shredded cheese in a bag. A $4.00 round of cheese made enough grated cheese for two pizzas, so that’s $2.00 a pizza–definitely within our budget.

Hillsborough Cheese Company cheese is available at some farmer’s markets in the area–check their website for specific information. As for me, I’ll be heading out Saturday to purchase some Bloomin’ Sweet Ash for my bloomin’ sweetie.

Day 30–Western Wake Farmers Market

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Madison Whitley is the friendly of the Western Wake Farmer's Market

Any of us can get into a pattern of behavior, especially when it comes to shopping for groceries. So we are trying to extend our reach a bit and try other farmers markets and suppliers of local food. This week we had a great time at the Western Wake Farmer’s Market in Morrisville. A fun and totally friendly experience! Just a 15 minute drive from our house, the Western Wake Farmer’s Market has a terrific supply of locally produced cheeses, pasta, vegetables, seafood, and meat. Smaller than the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh, this market focuses on high quality, mostly organic produce and no growth hormone, antibiotic free meat. The winter hours are Saturdays 10-12 and the market is located in the Carpenter Village shopping center parking lot.

Family Friendly Mom Power

We were greeted enthusiastically by Market Manager Madison Whitley, who quickly gave us information about the market and answered my many questions about vendors and how the Market works. The Market was actually founded by a group of moms who wanted the western part of our county to have the same access to fresh produce that others have from the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh. Never underestimate the power of a group of moms! Everyone at the market was friendly, engaging and more than willing to answer my questions from The Sustainable Table question lists.

Improving Food Access

The WWFM, which was started by a group of dedicated moms, shares a concern that low income families in our county do not have adequate access to quality fresh produce (or in some cases, any fresh produce). The Market takes monetary donations, which it uses to purchase produce from the market vendors. Market vendors also make donations of produce themselves. The Market works with the Interfaith Food Shuttle, which picks up donations and distributes them to food pantries, soup kitchens, etc. This system allows them to contribute fresh produce without having to develop a new (and costly) distribution plan. In the last growing season, they donated more than 3,000 pounds of produce! LOVE this!

The Shopping

Ok, so this is a winter market, but the selection was still very good, with about 15 vendors. According to Madison, the summer market (starting in April) more than doubles the number of vendors. We purchased NC shrimp, locally roasted coffee, organic carrots and tatsoi, and two kinds of cheese (we’ll be back for more!).

So, if you’ve been wanting to try something new, seek out a new farmer’s market or co-op store that you haven’t visited before. You may be pleasantly surprised and, if you’re lucky like we were, you’ll have a new favorite as well!

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